Since we decided to adopt I’ve kept a mental list of questions our child might ask about adoption. Whenever our daughter, now seven, wants to talk about adoption, I do my best to stop whatever I’m doing and focus on her.
We can go months without a mention of adoption. And then there are times when questions come in rapid succession.
Last night, as she was snuggled on my lap before bedtime, she asked “Mom, did my birth mom love me?” There was a hint of sadness in her voice.
“Oh, YES!” I said before kissing her on the cheek and hugging her tight. “She loves you very much.”
We adopted our daughter through open adoption. We know why our daughter’s birthparents chose adoption. We met them before she was born and heard about how excited they were to meet her. We were at the hospital with them as they held her close and covered her with kisses. We saw firsthand their love for her.
I hope our daughter will come to know in her heart that her birthparents both loved her very much when they chose adoption. And their love, like ours, is everlasting.
Showing gratitude in an adoption can be tricky business. How do you say thank you to the people who created the baby that becomes your son or daughter?
The moment I laid eyes on our daughter I was in love. I was immensely grateful to the couple who were making it possible for me to be her mom. How could I possibly express my gratitude to her birth parents?
While we all marveled at the new baby I saw the pride and love they had for her. And I saw their pain too. I saw them struggling with the thought of not parenting the baby they had created. I saw them hurting in ways I could only begin to imagine.
Logically I knew I wasn’t responsible for their pain or their struggle. I wasn’t responsible to fix their hurt. But emotionally I wasn’t convinced.
My gratitude didn’t feel like enough. They were making a sacrifice I would never make. Their loss was my gain. Therefore, I decided their emotional needs were more important than mine.
I felt I needed to make sure I never forgot their sacrifice. I wanted to find a way to ensure they understood how grateful I was for the tremendous gift they gave our family. If I was successful maybe it would ease their pain, make the struggle a little easier and help them heal. Maybe I could stop feeling responsible for their hurt.
So, I figured I needed to find a way to acknowledge and respond to their hurt whenever they asked me to. When they called I needed to answer. When they asked for pictures I needed to ask how many. When they told me they wished they never chose me to raise their daughter, I needed to accept it and absorb the pain.
Thankfully seven years of hindsight has brought a deeper understanding of my experience. I did not cause our daughter’s birthmother’s pregnancy. I did not make her chose adoption. I am not responsible for her healing.
I have shown gratitude toward our daughter’s birth parents. I have said thank you many times and each time I did I meant it. And I show my gratitude, for both my children, every day by continuing to be the best parent I can be.