In honor of National Adoption Month, I’ve asked a few adoptive parents to share a reflection, something they’d like their communities to see, to know, about their journey in caring for foster and adopted children. A note from the author of this post: “Adoption is complicated, full of both joy and grief, celebration and sadness. Each story is individual, uniquely its own, in the same way that we are each uniquely our own. As adoptive parents, we keep our children’s stories, protect what was entrusted to us. That can sometimes make it difficult to share the complexities of adoption with others in a way that honors the children we love. May this raise some of the awareness but also keep safe, a story that is both mine and not my own.”
She walked in, set them down, both secured in their carseats.
Little feet reaching out past fabric and plastic, stretching beyond, announcing growth and life.
Their wide eyes looked around the room, taking in the composition of furniture and artwork, skillfully nurtured and placed to create a home.
A home that was not theirs. A home unknown.
Their watchful eyes began searching for something familiar…but everything was new.
She took them out, little hands and feet, circumspectly moving about, lifting, pulling, rolling. She talked to me, I can’t remember what she said. Maybe something about hair or skin. Black. White.
She pulled her son close. His little body relaxing into hers, touching her face with his round, trusting fingers. The familiar smell of his mother’s breath, her skin, her touch.
She pressed her lips against his head and breathed him in, trying to hold this moment, his softness, his smell, so she would never forget it. Never forget them. She kissed him and drew a breath.
Tears stung my eyes. I looked away so she wouldn’t see. My body screamed but my mouth was silent. Grief gathered in my throat, choking out sound. My eyes betrayed me.
She reached for her daughter…but baby girl moved away, making it easier to say goodbye.
How does one watch a mother break, robbed of her children, her dreams? What can a stranger offer to comfort her children who know she is gone? These are not my babies. This is not right.
I have so much and what little you have, you lose? Injustice, embodied.
Rocking, singing, stroking. I gave them all of me but it didn’t unbreak them. They cried, their eyes far away. My own children cried while my heart and my body were away. They were alone, where had their mother gone?
Pools of tears and milk. When her babies cried, my body ached, traces of milk left from my own weaned child, let down, spilled out. Milk in my breast for babies that were not mine.
Days, weeks, months, went by. By law they were hers. They were always hers. They should always have been hers. And then one day, the court said they were mine. But I knew the truth. That day we all lost something.
I see your pain. I see your courage. If I listen, I hear your tears. I cannot give what this life stole from you but I will try to keep them safe, mama. I will bring them back to you. There is enough room in the heart for us both, but you are theirs and they have always been yours.
We never break in black and white. A mother’s heart breaks the same in every color.