A question I get a lot, whether from strangers or my doctor's office, is, "Is this your first?"
The answer is complicated, because yes it is, but no it's not. I have a daughter. Well, kind of.
Just before I turned 21, I had a baby girl who was adopted at birth by an amazing couple. I remember being in the hospital and holding her in my arms while I softly explained to her through my tears that I loved her very, very much, and that these people were going to give her the kind of life that I couldn't -- the kind of life I knew she deserved. With a heart full of love and not a single regret, but a sadness that to this day I can't adequately explain, I left her with her adoring adoptive parents, and knew all the way to my core that her life was going to be just the way it was meant to be. I was right.
I'm also extraordinarily lucky in that her parents agreed with me before she was even born that we would take part in an open adoption. I got pictures and letters a few times a year until she was 12 or 13 years old, at which time she told her mom that she'd like to get to know me. Fortunately, her mother is one of the most amazing women I know; knowing her daughter's maturity, she gave her approval for us to communicate. Since then, we've had a great friendship, and have been able to participate in life-changing events in one another's lives -- she stood up for me and even signed my marriage license at my wedding, I got to talk her through the stress of her first "for reals" boyfriend and be there for her spiritual exploration. It's a situation I couldn't be happier with.
I've shared this story for two reasons. One, I'm an open book, and since I'm an adopted kid and a birth mom, I feel very strongly about it and want to open that discussion at any reasonable opportunity.
Two, because when I say I've given a lot of thought to what kind of mother I want to be, I want you to understand the depth of the statement. I've been thinking about this and looking forward to it for over 17 years. The fact that I have another chance to be a mom -- and more, that I get to be a mom to a little girl -- is overwhelming at times. I
want need to do it right.
With that said, what kind of mom do I want to be?
I want to be cool, without being that lame "cool mom" who tries too hard and ends up being an embarrassment. Because, lame.
I want to be a friend to my daughter, so that she feels she can confide in me, while still maintaining parental authority and boundaries so that she feels safe and stable.
I want to be active in my daughter's life, from school activities, to outings and playdates with friends, to encouraging and helping her discover her talents, dreams and goals -- without suffocating her or being overbearing.
I want to maintain my sense of humor and therefore my sanity. If she's anything like me, she'll drive me bonkers on a regular basis.
I want to keep my identity and teach my daughter that it's important to know who she is -- and that it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks of her, as long as she's happy in her own skin.
I want to be the kind of mom who shows my daughter through example that she can be strong while being kind, and that she can have hope while keeping her eyes open.
I want to be the kind of mom who will encourage my daughter's intelligence and creativity, no matter what forms they may take.
There's so much more.
Most of all, I want to be the kind of mom who made the girl I brought into the world almost 17 years ago the amazing human being she is now. I want to be the kind of mom she'd be proud of.
I hope I'm up to this.
From "30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days," a series designed to give a voice to people with widely varying experiences, including birthparents, adoptees, adoptive parents, foster parents, waiting adoptive parents and others touched by adoption: