A few days ago we had a sweet visit at a park playground with birth mom. She is someone I hold dear and is a precious soul. I wish I could put the love, protective instincts, and respect for her that has grown in me over the last five years into you so that you could know this amazing feeling it is to love the woman who birthed your babies. Adoption has its messy parts and our relationship with her is most definitely that. But the beauty of our relationship and how God has grown something so special between us is a miracle and I wish everyone could experience it's beauty.
At the park Alisa met a friend (which frequently happens because Baby Girl never met a child she didn't want to befriend :) and then I saw her immediately get nervous. I asked her what was up and she explained she didn't know what to call me since she already called Birth Mom "Mom" in front of this new park friend. I felt her dilemma of not wanting to confuse her friend and feel too "different", but I also wanted to assure her that it was totally OK to call us both Mom. So I simply said, "You can call me Mom too if you want. You have two Moms that love you :)." Then my eight year old proceeds to explain she has a birth mom who "carried me in her tummy" and an adoptive mom who "takes care of me and I live with her now".
Play and swinging then proceeded as if nothing were amiss.
It was a wonderful, challenging, sad, happy day, and then we dropped her off. We exchanged several rounds of long hugs and as the kids were all telling her "goodbye" over and over she said this:
"I will see you later. I don't say goodbye."
Looking back I don't remember her ever saying, "Goodbye." I realized what an impact that word has on a woman who had already lost so much, long before she became a mother and then lost her children too.
Goodbye. There's really not much "good" about this type of "bye".
Instead she chose to see the hope in our next get together; "seeing us later" was something she wanted us to reassure her of in our last words. If she focused on all the loss and leaving I think it might crush her. It crushes me at times and its hard to breathe if I think about all the loss that has happened in their short lives, in her longer life. And I bring my own loss to the table that makes for even more loss and it just keeps adding up. If I focus on all the loss I cannot bear it.
Thankfully, I believe in Someone Who Can.
In the mean time, I hope to parent in a way that honors both the past AND the possibility of another future for them. A future where they can freely express themselves and are not ruled by their loss and fear. One of the most life-changing times in mine and David's life was our attending Empowered to Connect. If you are in the Atlanta area, we are hosting the live simulcast here in Marietta, GA. Details and Registration are here. Dr. Purvis and the Empowered to Connect team have tested and true practical ways and things to think about that can help us be the best parents for our children. This was The Thing that prompted us to open our doors to our non-profit a couple years ago and we so very much hope you can join us for this rare simulcast event.
If you aren't in Atlanta, please check out to see if one is near you here. The details vary by location. This conference is usually only offered a couple times at only three cities a year. Don't miss the simulcast if you are an adoptive or foster parent. And I would recommend any church worker, teacher, ministry leader, therapist, anyone who works with those from hard places attend!