Nine years ago, I was sitting across from Kirk at a Denny’s in south Phoenix not sure if I could eat; my gut was already full of nerves. About a month before, we had located one of our kid’s birth moms and after a brief phone conversation we decided to meet for breakfast. My seat faced the door, so I saw her first, a face I recognized from a Facebook profile picture. I thought I could see nervousness in her eyes too. What did she feel while walking to our table? What would we say?
I can’t remember exactly how things went. I know we ordered food and awkwardly introduced ourselves. I put a photo album on the table for her to see up to date pictures and things we had been doing together. She looked at the pictures silently at first, then her tears began to fall. She was overjoyed to see her children doing things she thought they would never have the opportunity to do. I now saw this person in front of me as another broken human who wanted her children to be happy. We both had the same desire. Her story tumbled out and I felt a deep compassion for this woman who so bravely met us with her wounds exposed. I wanted to reach across the table and hold that broken heart together. A month later we pulled into a parking lot at a park. Our kids rushed out of the car toward the mother they hadn’t seen in a few years. Kirk and I stayed behind briefly to let them reunite. My kids were hearing “I love you” from their birth mother, words they so needed to hear. I could feel the tears in the back of my throat. Maybe we were witnessing a little bit or even a lot of redemption.
Maybe we were witnessing a little bit or even a lot of redemption.
Adoption happens because a fissure has opened in the most basic relationship of life; brokenness upon brokenness has happened in a place where love should have its beginnings. All four of our children were older when they were adopted. Because of their age and level of memories we wanted to, if appropriate and safe, let them have contact with their birth families. We believed adoption wasn’t only about our journey of wanting family, it was also about these hurting kids and their families too. We hoped to provide a garden where something new could spring up–maybe a little bit or even a lot of redemption.
A few years later we found the birth mother of another child we adopted. After a brief phone conversation Kirk and I met her at a restaurant. The overjoyed mother told us how after we called her, she ran around her apartment complex telling everyone she was going to see her daughter again. A few weeks later, on a warm spring day, we pulled into a park and watched mother and daughter run toward each other. Mother covered her daughter in kisses while holding her tight. This was a girl who couldn’t allow anyone else, but her “real mom” to hug her and no one but “real mom” to tell her she was loved. She soaked up what she dreamed about every day. Maybe we were witnessing a little bit or even a lot of redemption.
Another meeting happened under the light of the street lamp at the end of our driveway. A separation of six years ended in tears and hugs. Each of the mothers we came to know had their own stories, their own way of dealing with grief. Two of the mothers would take brave steps to confront their brokenness and to carve a new path into healing. It’s not easy to stop addiction and abuse but these two did. One of the moms would never outrun the demon’s in her life and we would tragically lose her. The loss hurt us all because she had become a part of our lives.
This week one of my adult daughters handed me a water color picture, a gift she brought to me from her birth mother. On the back was a signature and a greeting of, “Happy Mother’s Day”. It was an emotional moment for me. I was grateful for her journey and for mine, that we had been allowed to help each other a little bit. I looked at the little girl painted in the picture, an innocent looking girl running through a grassy field at sunset. A small bird was flying up from her hand, or was the girl trying to catch it? Was she a symbol of lost innocence regained? I looked again at the signature on the back. In the loops and curves of the writing maybe I WAS witnessing a little bit or even a lot of redemption.
Happy Mother’s Day.
“Let love break into you and mess with you and loosen you up and make you laugh and cry and give and hurt because this is the only way to really live.” Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way
2 thoughts on “The Girl in the Picture: a dedication to the birth mothers of my children.”
Wow! I had tears in my eyes just reading this blog. What a way to heal the brokenness inside. So happy for you all.
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Hi Tina It took me a while to read this, as Mother’s Day generally sucks for me since my mom left this earth on that very holiday (and she was the hardest relationship of my life). Your story (your kids, their birth moms)…all of it. Tears. What a beautiful tale of sacrificial love and redemption. I’m glad I know you. Miss your face. Hope this finds you well. Shari
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