DEAR ADOPTING MAMA…
Background: I have three children– my oldest is biological– my middle is adopted– my youngest is biological. I think it is important to note that I have experienced becoming a mother in both ways for this story.
One of the biggest mistakes I made when we were in the process of adopting Emma was not creating a support system for myself. If moms who had walked my journey had been near to validate my feelings, I think the start of our adoption journey would have been different like the east is from the west. During our waiting game, I had questions & concerns— the main one being, Will I be able to love this baby as much as my first? I talked to a handful of moms who had experienced this question for themselves—but none of them had adopted. Their answers were sincere and all the same— As soon as my baby was born & I looked in those beautiful eyes, the love in my heart grew instantly, & it was like I couldn’t imagine life without her. A genuine answer—for a biological mom. And while I hoped & prayed this would be the case for me, when I sat across Emma’s beautiful birth mom, Sierra, in the hospital room & held Emma James for the first time, I was overwhelmed. There was JOY, yes. This is what we had been praying for, & the wait was over. I don’t want to forget that. Reminder: You can hold joy in one hand & fear in the other. What’s important is which hand you hold higher. I raised my hand holding fear. I was overwhelmed that my feelings were wrong & terrified the right ones would never show up. For the first several months of Emma’s life, I was buried, mastered, & chained to my feelings– & I would venture to say every single one of them was rooted in fear.
This letter is for you, adopting mama– whether you’re starting your paperwork, waiting & waiting, or holding a baby in your arms, this is for you.If you aren’t already surrounded by a support system, consider me your starting line. And then please reach out for more positive voices. You need them, & they need you.
You probably didn’t imagine yourself being here—waiting for a caseworker to call you up & tell you you’ve been picked to be a parent. It’s not the natural way—the dreamy way. I’m sorry for all the days you spend waiting—hoping—for your baby to be born. But know this—your baby will be born. Your baby will be yours. God placed this desire in your heart for a reason—& you will be an amazing mother.
Your anxious thoughts are normal. Some of your fears are valid. Biological moms get to bond with their baby for nine months before they’re even born. The baby knows her mother’s voice, her environment, & the music she listens to. Your baby doesn’t know those things about you yet. That can be scary. You won’t try to breastfeed like biological moms have the chance to. That bonding time isn’t an option. Your hormones won’t change. It may take your brain & your heart a few beats to connect on everything that’s going on. This has nothing to do with your beautiful baby, & it’s not because something is wrong with you. If you feel any of these things, know you are not alone. And even better, know JOY & LOVE have seats at their table for you & your baby together.
She was perfect.
Hey mama, God already knows your child. She is already in his hands, just like you are. His timing can feel slow & cold, but he is in the middle of every facet of your story. This baby of yours? This baby will not know that instead of growing her inside your body, you filled out loads of paperwork & went through home inspections & interviews before you waited out her arrival. She won’t know this. She will see YOU. And while your relationship is starting at ground zero, she was always going to be yours. God knew this. He has been preparing this baby for YOU, mama. You are exactly who she needs. This is not a fluke. You are not Plan B. You were always the plan. Your baby sees you. Do me a favor. When she cries, & people tell you it’s because she misses her mother’s voice, IGNORE THEM. Because this does nothing for you. Let it slide right off your tired shoulders. They’re not trying to hurt you– they just don’t know what to say. You are her mom. Do you hear me? YOU ARE HER MOM, & now is the time for you to figure her out and for her to figure you out—just like every other new mom on the planet. This is a universal stage of parenthood no matter how you get here. Do not second-guess your capabilities or your baby’s wellbeing because she cries. Wear your baby in a wrap. Do this as often as you can. Push through if she cries the first few times. I wore Collins & Jude pretty much all day for the first eight weeks of their lives. But because Emma cried & I was so insecure about my role in her life, I quit putting her in the wrap because I thought she didn’t want to be close to me. What a lie. What would have been the best bonding experience for us in the beginning, I quit because she cried. I can’t think about that without crying. What a loss. Hold your baby in a wrap. Let her learn your smell & your voice. Let her sleep on you. Just be so near to each other.
This road may not have always been your plan. But take heart in knowing God always knew, & he is not surprised, & he created this baby to be part of YOUR family. You are already an amazing mother—please don’t forget it. Your baby will grow, & you will be her person. And she will be yours. And you won’t be able to imagine life another way. God is so good. Adoption begins with loss on both ends of the spectrum. There’s nothing light about it. But God restores. And he does it with JOY. Don’t let your fear overshadow this journey. Speak truth into your story. The truth is that you are His & your baby is His—& the day he unites you will be a day the angels rejoice. You & your baby are a match straight from heaven.