I'm not sure I know anyone who LOVES shopping for Mother's Day cards, and for good reason. Our choices seem to be limited to two categories: half-hearted attempts at groan-inducing humor or saccharin sweet, over the top drivel that no real person actually says. But this Mother's Day proved to be exceptionally challenging. After all, what do you get the 17 year-old mother of your child who you are just beginning to know?
When Kyle and I first began talking about adoption we were certain we would want it to be a "closed" adoption where there is no contact between our family and the birth mother. Like a lot of people, we thought, "Why confuse the child about who his or her parents are?" Plus, my own adoption was closed as was Kyle's brother's and we turned out just fine.
But, as the saying goes, facts are stubborn things and the overwhelming amount of research shows that kids in "open adoptions" where the birth parent(s) have some sort of a presence, even if limited, grow up healthier and happier than adoptees like myself who know nothing about their biological parents. For some families an open adoption could be as little as exchanging a letter and pictures with the birth parent(s) once a year to the other end of the spectrum where the biological parents are a regular part of your lives and even come over for the holidays. As we became better informed and talked about it more, Kyle and I decided we that we would land squarely in the middle of that broad spectrum: photos a few times a year and an annual visit at our adoption agency or park.
That was before October of last year when we met an incredible young woman who was two months away from giving birth to a child that she determined would become our son. She was a sweet and quiet person whose connection with her own mother was incredibly deep and a source of strength. As I have previously described, what had all the makings of an awkward introduction was overshadowed by the connection we were able to make with these two wonderful people.
We met them again seven weeks later, the day after Alexander was born. I'll never forget the rush of feelings as we walked down the hospital hallway, into the room and then, finally turning around the corner to see our 15 hour-old son lying in bed with his mother. They were beautiful. In the room, we were joined by our birth mother's mother, one of their family friends and the social worker. We all spent about two hours together before we had to leave so mom could rest. They were the most incredible moments of my life. But, as Kyle and I discussed in the car as we left the hospital, what was most extraordinary was the amount of love that was pouring out of that room and every person in it. So pure, so raw and so much. All for this little boy. I wish I could articulate it better, but I just don't think it's possible to do it justice.
It was also clear to us that our family had truly grown. Not just by one adorable baby, but also by two incredible mothers--one who helped create our family and another who supported her all along the way with all the love she had. Closed adoption? Nope. We want these two women and all that love in our lives. Today, we stay in close contact, emailing every few weeks and sharing pictures and videos of the little boy who brought us together. And we're counting down the days until our next visit.
This Mother's Day, Kyle, Alexander and I celebrate his mother and her mother for their selflessness, kindness and pure love.
I did finally find that card, by the way. And it was perfect: "For a wonderful Mom. Life brings many changes, but nothing will ever undo the wonderful legacy of a lifetime of love. You have been and always will be at the heart of a very special family...a family that admires you, appreciates you, and loves you very much."