Like all mothers, I remember my first Mother's Day. It was May 13, 2001. Benjamin, my youngest son, had just been adopted from Vietnam. He couldn't make me a card or buy me a gift, but holding him in my arms when he was all of 11 months old was the best and most gratifying gift for me.
I became a mother for a second time when I adopted Desalegn from Ethiopia on June 5, 2004. Then I had two boys in my life and double the enjoyment and pride in being their mother. As a mother, I could love them and cherish them and help them be their own persons and go into the world to be independent and successful men.
I am the "second mother" in my son's lives. As two boys who were adopted, I am sure that they may have many thoughts and feelings on Mother's Day that are unique and tender. I think about that and sometimes ask them about this. They are grateful for all their mothers. And I am grateful for their mothers, their parents. They likely will still make me cards that I can keep on my desk in my study forever, or carry in my journal so that I can look at them any time that I want...reminding me that I achieved at the best job in the world, to be a mother.
The first time I heard Ben say "Mama," all of my dreams came true. I had arrived. I was officially "Mama." All the years of second-guessing and thinking that I would not be a good parent were over. I felt included and part of the community of parents. I was no longer outside of life, but rather part of a family. I was in fact a member in good standing as a mother and as a parent.
I could fill in forms as parent and mother and if the form asked if I had children, I could check "yes," and write their names, Benjamin Aronson and Desalegn Aronson. I could complain about forms that had "mother" and "father" and cross out father and put my partner's name. They had two mothers! I could fill in the pediatrician's intake form as a mother and I could make decisions about a child that only a mother can make.
What a great job. To be a mother of two sons, both teenagers, who on Mother's Day will simply tell me that they love me in that abbreviated form... love you without an "I." Now I get to be a mother who is a bit foolish and old-fashioned. I get to be made fun of because I don't have the savvy to play X Box. I am not as interesting as they become more engaged with friends. And I must balance my affections with their mood swings and irritability that is necessary for them to separate and be the good men that I know they are becoming. Letting go is the most important job of a mother and I am learning to do this.
As I write in my first book, Carried in Our Hearts, once the commitment to adopt is made, the real journey begins. As parents, we ask a lot of questions about who our children will be, and we fantasize about their future. We dream of them growing up and reaching milestones of walking, talking, self-feeding, toilet training, and going to school for the first time.
Though my book follows the path to adoption, it is a universal story about parenting. And I wrote chapters to help readers understand the very challenging process of becoming parents through adoption. That process will resonate with all of you who will recognize the longing and yearning we have for family and the miracle of creating family even after millions of years on this planet, Earth.
Dr. Jane Aronson
Founder and CEO, Worldwide Orphans