A Heart-Shaped Leaf: notes from an adoptive mother

Last week my 18-year-old son came into the kitchen while I was fixing dinner. He held a closed hand in front of me. “Open your hand mom.” I looked up at his smirk.

“No”, I said. “I don’t trust you.”

He pushed his hand closer to me. “Come on mom, just hold your hand out.”



I put my palm under his closed hand my eyes half squinting in fearful anticipation of the contents.

His fist opened and a single leaf fell into my palm. It was shaped like a heart.

“I found it in the yard mom. Isn’t that cool?”

He grinned.

I remembered the wild-eyed boy who entered my life when he was 9 years old; now he was a young man. I promptly placed the leaf deep inside the pages of a favorite poetry book.

Recently my husband, oldest daughter, and I, were rehearsing similar kinds of moments in our unique family story. We adopted all of our children when they were 9 years old or older. One of our favorite memories is the day our oldest daughter and her brother moved in. About an hour after they came in the front door, our daughter asked my husband, “So, how do you like having me live here so far?” It was an innocent question from a young girl who could barely comprehend what was going on that day.

In the nine years since taking them into our home, 2 others have joined our family. The journey to become family has been messy. We are like clay pieces in a mosaic. Not all the pieces in a mosaic match and they are all broken, but the art is beautiful.

Not all the pieces in a mosaic match and they are all broken, but the art is beautiful.

When we finished rehearsing the memories that day our daughter said to us, “I adopted you too.” They were words I never want to forget. I want to always see beyond the mess and to never be consumed by it. Rehearsing those moments and preserving little leaves in a poetry book is part of that journey.

Tina D. Stephens

author of The Common Hours


3 thoughts on “A Heart-Shaped Leaf: notes from an adoptive mother

Leave a Reply to Tina D. Stephens Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s