|Anna and her birthmother, sweet A.|
I had the privilege of meeting Anna's birthmother during my time in Ethiopia. Last year, for Birthmother's Day, Anna was just starting to understand the idea that she grew inside the belly of someone other than me. Since that time, her understanding of her birthmother had grown tremendously. She understands that she has a birthmother in Ethiopia, that her birthmother gave birth to her, and that she lived with her birthmother "while she was a baby." She knows her birthmother is brown, and they look similar. She knows Abigail, Gaga, and I all met her birthmother when we went to "Eepeeohpeeah" to meet her. She knows that I am Abigail and JohnAndrew's birthmother, but I am her adoptive mother.
Mostly, though, she knows that her birthmother loves her. Loves her as much as I love her. And that I love her birthmother. And that she can love her birthmother and me at the same time. She knows I think about her birthmother every day, and we pray for her often. And one day, we will go back to Ethiopia and she will get to see her birthmother and give her hugs and kisses. She is very proud to be Ethiopian, proud to be brown, and proud that she has a birthmother that loves her.
I get a lot of this parenting stuff wrong- heck, I get a lot of this life stuff wrong, but once in a while, I think I get it right. This is one of those times.
Today, on Birthmother's Day, we make a special, public declaration of our love and admiration for our children's birthmother's. We honor the difficult choices they made that resulted in their children being placed into our homes and families. We take time to pause and gratefully acknowledge these first mothers for the amazing role they have and will play in our children's lives.
But the true sign of our respect for these ladies does not come in the grandness of our tributes today. It comes in the daily, quiet ways that we acknowledge them in our children's lives. It comes through sharing our child's story with them over and over, allowing them to own it, and encouraging them to love these women. It comes in bravely acknowledging that their birthmother experienced pain and loss in some form. It comes by allowing these birthmothers, these first mothers, to be just that- first. In our home, respecting Anna's birth mother comes through photos, stories, and prayers. Daily. As often as Anna wants. And even sometimes, when she doesn't want. So that she will learn her story, remember her story, and know that her story not only makes her unique, but allows her to be strong. Because her birthmother was a strong enough woman to make the most difficult choice of her life- to deny her own wants, her own desires, her own will, and think only of her child.
May I also learn that lesson... to die to my will, and serve my children in love. Completely.