this is motherhood {too}: a journey to open adoption

September 1, 2015, Michaela Evanow, 3 Comments
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“Mommy is this right?”

My daughter shows me the note she’s writing. There are pictures of herself and her siblings taped haphazardly alongside her printed words.

“It’s close!” I reply.

“Well, what would make it perfect? I want it to be perfect!”

I glance over the note, stopping at the words mom and I love you. But this note isn’t for me, it’s for her other mother. Her birth mom.

Jasmine came to us at three month old. She was a beautiful baby girl. I still remember that first day—what it felt like to hold her as she cooed at us, giving her a bath in our kitchen sink, laying her in the crib we’d borrowed from a family member, turning off the light to her freshly painted room.

I remember months in limbo. As foster parents, we cared for kids, but never knew for how long or when they’d get placed somewhere else.

Jasmine was different. I loved her from day one, secretly wanting to keep her for always.

Miraculously, seven years later, here I am with my daughter by my side.
unnamedOnly the hand of God could have allowed all of the details to fall into place so that we could keep this wonderful girl.

It hasn’t been perfect. Over the years there have been questions and tears, fears about being wanted and loved. Wonderings about birth parents and family. Her dad and I trying to give answers as best we can, and hold her when all else fails.

Praying for this child and for her sensitive heart has become a mainstay of my day, while simultaneously praying for a woman I have never met but who shares the same name as I do: mom.

And just a few months ago when a letter finally came back from her birth mom, asking for more information, sending her love and pictures, it left us praying and wondering how exactly to respond.

We did so with hand written cards, several in fact.

The bonds of motherhood, whether through birth or adoption, are not easily broken and the connection she senses with her mother is deep. I have had to lay aside my own desires to be called her one and only mom. I need to leave room for this other woman who is mother too. Because we’ve adopted two kids, I often find myself in the precarious position of giving advice to women who are curious about adoption themselves. As gently as I can, I lay out the truth that they will need to be able to share their child with others who will also hold the title of parent.

unnamed (1)The bonds of birth are not quickly forgotten. And room for more than one family in a child’s heart is normal, even necessary.

And so heeding my own advice, I tell myself: This is good for my daughter. And it is right. And although it is incredibly hard for me at times, I love her too much not to grant her this connection.

This is, after all, what being a mama is all about; sacrificing our desires, even letting our hearts break a little, for our children. We support their lives and dreams, above our own desires.

We continue to move towards building a relationship, praying that God will give us wisdom about the next steps and all the questions I don’t have answers to just yet. Can we meet her sometime? Can we talk to her on the phone? Can we drive to her house?

All things I am not yet able to say yes to, but finding that I am opening myself up to the possibility that maybe this was God’s plan all along.

This may not be the life I had perfectly envisioned, but it is the one God has placed before me and I have learned to trust his heart for me, for my daughter, and for the woman I share the title mom with.

This sharing of a child’s heart is motherhood, too.

Kendra Roehl received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work and has worked for hospice programs, low-income housing, and the St. Cloud Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The mother of four, she and her husband are former foster and adoptive parents who took in approximately 20 children over six years. You can find Kendra writing honestly about topics such as marriage, motherhood, foster care and adoption and social justice at The Ruth Experience.

3 Comments

  • Reply Kathleen Chafin September 17, 2015 at 10:42 PM

    I am both a “birth mom” who was forced to relinquish my son at age 19 during the baby scope era, and a mom to 2 daughters (and the loss of my second son), followed by adoptive mom to 4. So I have seen both sides. As an adoptive mom, I shared the title mom. My youngest daughter went through much grief when her first mom died suddenly (I hate the word birth mom). And I was reunited with my first son and knew I was “sharing” him with his mom. But then, don’t we all share with brothers, sisters, parents, spouses of our children?

    What I have found is that adoption (even the best ones) comes with trauma and issues that must be worked through. And the best way through is together.

  • Reply sempremamma September 3, 2015 at 2:06 AM

    Sei una mamma che ha un cuore grande e ama sua figlia più che se stessa e questa è una cosa davvero bellissima, un grande esempio per tua figlia.

  • Reply Kristi Woods September 1, 2015 at 7:11 PM

    Beautiful story, Kendra, and beautiful heart. These words caused a pitter patter in my own heart –> “I have learned to trust his heart for me, for my daughter, and for the woman I share the title mom with.” Life is truly about trust of the One Above, isn’t it? Lovely. Visiting via #TellHisStory

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