I always hope that I’m going to have something inspirational ready to post on National Adoption Day, but here it is, and I don’t know what to say this year except being an adoptive mom makes me . . .
a mom, maybe not the same kind of mom as someone else, but the one I was meant to be.
Having a biological child was never possible for me, and I’ve grieved that loss. Yet, I realize now, that if I had, I wouldn’t have the daughter I do today. And she is perfect, sometimes perfectly rotten, perfectly loud, a perfect disaster, but my perfect starfish child.
Sometimes, raising just this one child feels like a drop in the bucket compared to the millions hurting in this world. But God didn’t ask me to save the world, He asked me to raise this child, and I’m reminded of the starfish story, the one about the little girl throwing stranded starfish back into the ocean. She couldn’t save them all, but she didn’t stop trying because her efforts mattered to ‘this one’.
Sometimes, I hear my daughter say “Mommy” and it sounds false, too good to be true, too fragile with all the extra dynamics of adoption and biology and legality.
But it is true. For today, I am her mom, her only mom. I guess that is what I wanted to say. She is mine. We are really family. Sometimes though, I think we forget our real place in the equation, when we talk about our kids being ours.
I have had to share all my children. My three children from my previous marriage called me mom, but we shared custody. We share my two current stepsons with their mother and stepdad. Now, we share this child with a biological family that may someday be in her life, and with God who adopted her before we did.
Sharing children is difficult and challenging for all sorts of reasons, but entirely beautiful because I’ve learned that these children are mine only in the sense that I’ve been put into their lives for a time, and what I do with that time is mine to claim responsibility over.
For me, the fact that she is only mine through God’s plan has made a huge difference in my parenting. I’m only borrowing her. God plucked her off the beach into my hand for a season. I’ve been given this window to reach into her life and be her mom. That’s it. Temporary.
When people tell me how lucky she is to have me as her mom I feel like a fraud. Don’t they know how selfishly I wanted to be a mom? She didn’t just fall into my lap. It was hours of copying paperwork, weeks of gathering documents, months of preparing our home for a study and a baby we might never get, years of saving money, and decades waiting to be a mom.
Even the starfish allusion, implies that I’m somehow saving her, but like to think we’re part of saving each other. I like it because it reminds me how powerfully one life can matter to another, how much responsibility I’ve been graciously given. She changed me. Watching her relate to me made me see myself in relation to God so clearly.
And just like that, I’m like every other mother, nothing about being a mother was what I expected. I didn’t expect to love this much. I didn’t expect it would change me this much. I didn’t expect that being a mom would break my heart into a million pieces daily and yet be what my heart beats for. I really didn’t expect how mothering would bring me to the feet of the Father.
I’m so thankful I’m His adopted starfish, as she is mine.