A Pledge to my Children’s Birthmothers
Whew, this is a big one. I’m already tearing up just from typing the title of this article. I feel overwhelmed by gratitude and weighed down by immense pressure all at the same time. Let me explain.
I can’t fully grasp the depths of adoption even after I’ve adopted twice (and on the journey to do it a third time). Because the emotions, the biology, the exchange of a child from one family to another is so incredibly complex and beautiful and heart-wrenching that it just can’t be put in to words that make sense to me. Sometimes I feel like I love my daughters more than I could have possibly loved a biological child. My love for them is so deep, so immense, and it’s baffling that a human has the capacity to feel so much. Sometimes I feel like I love them more because our journey to them was one that took all my fight, faith, and tears. We went through many, many dark days before finding them, our light. My daughters have brought me more love and joy than I’ve ever experienced. They are our triumph at the end of the tunnel. And it’s all because their birthmothers chose life and chose us. Their decision was so incredibly deliberate, so intentional, to place their child with ME. I walked my whole life moving me towards the day where my path would cross would our birthmothers and they would choose me. How can one possibly understand the magnitude of that?
After a tiring and hard journey to my children, I know feel so much peace, love, and pressure all at the same time. I love them because they are my heart and soul, as any mama feels about her kiddos. But, for me, their biological mothers give me so much more strength and desire to be the best mother I can be. Because I was chosen to be a mother to these very specific little souls, I feel immense pressure to get it right, raise them right, and love them well. Because their birthmothers trusted me to do just that. They are counting on me, one mere person, to determine the life of their child. They chose me for the best job in the entire world, one that comes with no user manual or instructions.
On days when we do something really fun as a family and have the Instagram-worthy pictures to prove it, I always feel giddy with excitement to text their birthmothers to show them the pictures that surely say “look! I’m a good mama! Look what we did! Look how happy our daughters are!” I don’t say those things, of course. But I feel the need to prove to them they made a righteous choice and that my husband and I are everything they imagined we were from the 12 pages of our perfectly-designed profile book. Then, of course, there are the hard days. These are the days when the motherhood title earns all its gruesome subtitles, memes, and t-shirts that remind us that being a mom is the hardest job in the whole world. It’s dirty, messy, there are tears, and barf, and the exhaustion is real. And on those days, in addition to the already existing pressure from today’s society, I feel like I let our birthmothers down. I feel shame when I’m reminded that they chose ME to raise their children better than they feel they could. I feel guilt that I yelled or cried or didn’t give them that extra popsicle or I couldn’t stop them from falling off the step. I fear that I’ll disappoint them or that they’ll regret placing their children with me. That is a heavy weight to bare. It’s important to note that this is very much self-inflicted pressure. Our daughter’s birthmothers are gracious and kind and have always encouraged me to be the best mother I can be. But for some reason, I feel that as an adoptive mama I have higher standards to uphold. I did mounds of paperwork and paid a LOT of money to earn this title so I better rock at it, right? Wrong. I know this is wrong. But it feels heavy some days.
In these feelings and moments, I sit with them. I gently remind myself that I didn’t make a promise to keep them from getting bumps and bruises, or to keep them clean, or dress them in matching clothes. I didn’t promise that our life together would be easy and happy every moment. I did make a pledge to their birthmothers that I would love their children with every cell of my body. I promised to love them and raise them as my own while always honoring their roots. I promised that under any circumstances, I would support them and be by their side for the rest of my life. I never promised to be a perfect mom. But I promised to love. And that’s the easiest promise I’ve ever made.