Adoption vs. Birth

I went into adoption absolutely certain that I could and would love children born to another woman.

I was right.

I knew long before I met my girls that my love could run as deep, steady and strong for a child I chose through adoption as a child I gave birth to.

But there was also a lot I didn’t understand until I gave birth to my son.

Before we adopted I naively thought that love for my daughters would come instantly and feel deeply maternal.

I was wrong.

While I did fall instantly in love with my daughters, it was a very different kind of love than the love I felt when I gave birth to my son a  year and a half later.

It took day in, day out, month after month after long month of choosing to love my daughters before those feelings of natural, instinctive, maternal love came to me.

In theory I loved them fully and intimately, but realistically

we were strangers

and we needed to get to know each other.

I hadn’t spent nine months feeling the stirrings under my heart.  I hadn’t held them for those first breaths and watched each tiny movement.  I hadn’t witnessed the steady growth and development and learned what experiences formed in them their character and who they had become.

I have missed so much and I grieve that deeply.

When my son was born his innocence and purity took my breath away.  He was…and still is…so unscarred by this world.

My daughters never had that experience.  Even prenatally they struggled against circumstances beyond their control.

They fought for survival even before their first breaths.

I would give anything to give them the innocence my son got to experience, but I can’t and that is hard.

It is hard to look into my daughter’s eyes and see longing there as she says, “Mommy, I wish I grew in your tummy.”

Or to hold her shuddering little body as she cries tears of grief and loss for her birth mother…tears that she can’t even understand they are so complex and raw.

When my daughters came to me at 7 and 5 years old, they had personalities, character traits and a whole life that I knew very little about.

Sometimes that still gets in the way.

Sometimes I see fear, and I don’t know why it’s there.

Sometimes I see pain, and I don’t know what it’s about.

Sometimes there are vivid memories of people and places that I don’t know and I have no way of knowing if these memories are accurate and true or distorted by a child’s memory.

They’re looking to me for answers and I don’t know what to say.

Sometimes I see anger and resentment and I have no words to unravel the pain behind it all.

Sometimes I am the one battling the deep feelings of loss, of insecurity, of resentment and of exhaustion.

It is so tiring to constantly battle the layers upon layers of grief, fear, loss and trauma written on the hearts of children who have seen and heard and felt the unimaginable.

There is always always an unknown factor to consider.

Just because I chose this doesn’t mean it’s easy.

It’s not always fun.

Hurt makes people hurt.

Fear makes people push away.

Betrayal makes hearts break and the healing is slow and painful.

Sometimes I just want a normal family.

Yes, it’s true and I said that out loud.

Sometimes the guilt of that tears me apart.

But so many other times I see love, and I feel honoured to be their mother.

I see happiness and it overwhelms me with joy.

I see healing and it makes me fall to my knees in worship to the One who can bring redemption out of so much pain.

So many people see all the hurt and pain that often goes along with adoption and they decide they could never do it.

Too many risks.

And it’s true…after having experienced both adoption and natural birth, I will atest to the fact that giving birth is probably easier.

It’s the natural way to receive a child, the way our Creator first designed for families to be born.

It’s beautiful.

But what about when the original design falls apart?

What about when pain and destruction and sin enter in?

Ripping, tearing, breaking;

leaving wounds upon both the innocent and the guilty?

Then what?

Is there any hope of redemption?

Yes!

A thousand times yes!

I cannot begin to pour enough passion into these words.

To let you see,

to let you feel

the incredible grace

that our Father pours upon those who choose to engage the pain.

How he takes the ashes and creates beauty from them.

How he takes the broken and uses the scars to proclaim His glory.

How he bathes us in grace upon grace.

How he heals and transforms and gifts.

How we see the gospel through this thing we call adoption.

It is probably true that nothing quite prepares you to face the pain of this.

But it is absolutely true that nothing will prepare you for the rewards you will experience and the victories you will be a part of.

Nothing will prepare you for the small things that will bring you joy,

the grace you will receive

and maybe most of all the love that will grow strong in your heart for these children you’ve chosen as yours.

Yes, yours.

It will become their identity.

Your children.

It’s my favourite thing to say.

My daughters.

One of my favourite narratives in scripture is the account told in Hosea of God lavishly loving upon the people who had turned their backs on him.

Hosea 2:23 says,

“I will sow her for Myself in the land. I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, And I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they will say, ‘You are my God!'”

When I read these words, there is something that resounds within my heart.

I will say to those who were once not my own

“You are mine!”

I will choose, despite all odds, to

lavishly love

upon these people who were once strangers to me.

And in it all, the unthinkable will occur…

we will become one.

A family.

A home.

A testimony of grace and redemption.

So even though adoption can be hard and messy and complicated

it is so worth it and in it’s own way

it is so beautiful.

I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

AF

Karter Jax Freeman

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My sweet boy,

You have forever changed my world.

I had no idea I could experience such a huge array of emotions in such a short time.

Pain, anticipation, helplessness, elation, relief, awe, adoration and the deepest joy I have ever known.

Your birth was beautiful, terrifying and humbling.

On October 22, 2015 at 1:06 pm you entered the world and I immediately fell blissfully in love with you.  Holding you in my arms and seeing your bright eyes gazing up at me I felt as if my heart might tear at the seams.

You are almost 5 weeks old now, and still I have not lost that sense of wonder when I look at you.  It’s remarkable how just when I think my heart could not possibly hold more love, you smile and it fills my entire being with joy.

Adoption and foster care has made me a different Mommy to you, Karter.

A better Mommy. 

Every other baby I’ve cared for, loved and kissed goodnight has already been dealt some of life’s ugliest blows…even at only a few weeks old.  Their worlds quickly lost the innocence and purity yours still holds.  They knew pain, fear, rejection, abandonment and loneliness so incredibly early.  So when I look at you, sleeping peacefully with no fear, no pain, no awareness of anything but gentle love and the security that you will be nurtured with the deepest of adoration…it shapes in my heart a vow to be the very best I can be.

To you, I am everything. 

Your favourite place is in my arms, pressed closest to my heart.

You are so innocent and unblemished, and I would give anything to protect that pure beauty.

Anything.

I find myself wanting to shield you from all the harsh realities of this world we live in.

Your cry cuts straight to my soul, and I know this will never really go away.  In the blink of an eye you’ll be as big as your big sisters and still I will be trying to protect you and be your safe place.

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I know too soon I will no longer be your everything;

Your favourite place to be,

And the arms you never tire of being wrapped within.

So today I hold you. 

I hold you and hold you until my arms ache.

Even while the dishes and laundry pile up and the clock ticks the hours away, I hold you.  I breathe in your scent, kiss your soft crown and let you hear the beat of my heart right next to your own.

Eventually the world will come and force its way between us, and I will be proud as you spread your wings.

But for now, I will hold you close, and I will enjoy every second.

I love you, Karter Jax

Forever adoringly yours,

-Mommy

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Yes, it’s true…I’m pregnant! :)

First, there were 2.

Then, we became 4.

Now…we are anticipating number 5!

Yes, it is true!  I am pregnant! 🙂

My daughters, my husband and I are all over the moon with excitement about this next step of our lives.  It is still a little hard to believe in the midst of the craziness we live, but Little One is growing and I am becoming more and more aware of a new presence in my body every day!  My daughters regularly scrutinize me to see just exactly how fat I have become and my clothes are starting to make some real complaints at being stretched and pulled.

I smiled when I met a woman in the grocery store and she said,

“Oh, isn’t that something!  You know, it happens so many times!  After someone adopts they end up pregnant!”

I grinned at her surprised expression when I said,

“Well, this one was actually part of the plan.”

Yes, we may be crazy.

But we are all very happy and confident that this new little person is entering the drama at just the right time, all in the hands of our Creator.

I feel a little guilty some days.

I have two beautiful daughters, and now I am pregnant with a third child.  I know there are so many women who enter the world of foster care and adoption because they’ve been unable to bear children from their womb for one reason or another.  I know there are hundreds of women who long to be able to carry a child.

I don’t know what to say.

But I do know this.

This life inside of me is valuable and precious, and I will choose to celebrate it with as little guilt and as much confidence as possible.

I am so excited to meet this child, just as I was so excited to meet my daughters last Spring.  They can’t wait to be big sisters, and I am so thrilled they are here to enjoy this journey with us!  Just as I was in awe at the arrival of my two beautiful girls in our lives, I am in awe that once again…even after all the mistakes I’ve made…God has chosen to place a child in my care.

My favourite passage of scripture these days is found in Psalm 139.

I found this passage shortly before I realized I was pregnant, while putting together lifebooks for my daughters.  I wanted to start their stories with the message that even though I wasn’t a part of their beginning, God was.  He was always there, and their presence here with me is not a mistake.  When I found these words in Psalm 139 I was filled with both awe and incredible joy.  It felt like such a gift to be able to etch these words into the beginning of their stories when there is so much I cannot tell them with confidence.

We are blessed to have pictures of their birth parents…even a picture of their Mommy a few weeks before giving birth, her belly swollen and a smile on her face.

Beautiful.

Yet her presence in my daughters’ lives is mixed with so much uncertainty, pain and even anger at times.  I have longed to be able to tell them without a shadow of a doubt that their birth mother loved and cherished them from the beginning; that she made choices for them out of a deep love and selflessness inside of her; that she dreamed of a bright future for them.  It would make the story so much simpler to be able to tie it up in a neat bow of heroism and sacrifice all for the good of them.  But their stories are not quite that simple, and there are a lot of questions without easy answers.  They know much uncertainty and rejection for their young age, and all I can do is to give them honest, age appropriate answers to their many questions…and to say the words “I am so sorry.”  It is not my story to twist, paint in bright colours or finish with a flourish.

So imagine the gift of these words.

YOU MADE

ALL THE Delicate INNER PARTS OF MY

BODY & KNIT ME TOGETHER

IN MY MOTHER’S WOMB.

THANK YOU FOR MAKING ME

SO WONDERFULLY COMPLEX!

I PRAISE YOU, GOD!

YOUR WORKMANSHIP IS

MARVELOUS!

HOW WELL I KNOW IT.

YOU WATCHED ME AS

I WAS BEING FORMED IN UTTER SECLUSION;

As I was woven together in the dark of the womb.

YOU SAW ME BEFORE I WAS BORN.

ALL THE DAYS YOU HAD PLANNED FOR ME WERE

WRITTEN IN YOUR BOOK

before

EVEN ONE OF THEM CAME TO BE.

Psalm 139: 13-16

A few weeks later when I found out I was carrying one of these tiny miracles within my own womb, I went back and smiled as I read these verses again.  All my children’s names will be written in my Bible beside this verse.  No matter who their birth parents may be, what truths their stories may hold or what devastation life may bring…I know this to be life-giving, sustaining TRUTH.

He has seen us long before we were ever born.

We are HIS intricate creation.

Our existence is not a mistake, and before our first breath He could see each day of our lives stretched before Him like the seashore.

We are loved.

We are wanted.

We are in his capable hands.

And that is enough for this Mama to cling to.  If I accomplish nothing else I hope to give this knowledge as a gift, buried deep in the hearts of each of my children.

AF