There is so much running thru my mind right now. At least once a day I think about blogging....I run thru everything in my mind and my heart and I contemplate what I would put down on paper and what I want to share and put words to. There is so much. I have debated answering common questions (this one will probably still happen in the near future), talking in depth about the struggle of having a child 7000 miles away, and listing all of the words in the Bible and praise songs that I hear every day that reassure me that my Lord can and will "calm my raging seas". But none of these are what I am going to put on paper tonight.
You see....I have been thinking about 2 important people alot lately....the birth mothers of my sweet children. I will never know either of these women. Mia and Tamirat have different stories that belong to them. Their mothers' have different stories that I will never know, for different reasons, the details of. And yet, there are very few people on this earth with whom I am more intimately entwined. These are women who carried their precious children in their wombs for 40 long weeks. These are the women who prayed over and worried about and cared for, as best they could, the children that I get to call my own for the rest of their lives. They are "mother", "mom", "mommy", and "enat" in every sense of the word. Tamirat's name means "miracle"....that was not an accident on his mother's part. He was and is the best part of her....just as he will become a part of the best part of me. Mia was not named Rahel by her mother....which is why we changed her name to Mia Rahel. Mia means "God's gift"....not an accident on my part. Each of my adopted children has 2 mothers. While I might, at times, for the sake of clarity, refer to Mia or Tamirat's other mother as "birth mom" or "first mom"....the truth is that they are just "mom"...exactly as I am just "mom". Our roles do not need to be separated. I have been asked alot of questions on our adoption journeys....some of them I love to answer and some are so insensitive they make my jaw drop. I think that I will answer some of these questions in a later post for those of you trying to learn about adoption, but I bring them up at this point for one reason. For the most part, I think that I manage to navigate questions, even insensitive ones, with alot of grace. I try not to let much get me riled or upset.....but there are two words that are used alot by even the most sensitive of people when talking about or asking about adoption that make me cringe inwardly. Those words are "own" and "real"....as in "do you have any children of your own" and "are they your real children" or "what happened to her real mom". I think when written in black and white the problem is pretty obvious. All of my children are my "own"....not just the biological ones. I am my childrens' "real" mother and they are my "real" children whether or not I gave birth to them. These questions diminish both my role as their adoptive mother and the role their biological mothers played in their lives. We are both real and the children belong to both of us. It is a hard concept and I get that it is not easy to wrap our minds around such a duality. But the truth is we do not need to be separated. We are both just simply "mom". She gave them life and I will get to help them navigate it. She soothed their first tears and I will soothe all of the ones that have yet to come. She prayed over her child and protected her/him for as long as she was able.....that is my job for all of the years yet to come. People ask about the ethical questions of international adoption. About whether children would be better off in an orphanage or in a foster care situation in their own country with the culture they were born into. I am not here (at this moment, in this post) to delve into all of the intricacies of this question. Nor do I want anyone to walk away from this post with the impression that I think adoption is always the best option. Do not think that I will not strive to give my resources...including my time, money, and sweat....for the rest of my life to try to preserve families in Ethiopia and around the world so that more orphans are not created. But hear me say this....loud and clear....there is no mother on earth who does not want her child to have a mother. If the option for my child were an orphanage in America or a mother somewhere else, I would not hesitate to choose a mother. Mothers (and fathers...but I am talking from my perspective tonight) are God's plan for children. They just are. We are intimately tied, myself and the women who gave birth to 2 of my greatest blessings.....forever.
I want to make one more point in this post. People I meet are curious about the resilience of adopted children. We have all heard the horror stories of children who have acted out their grief and trauma in horrifically violent ways...biological children do that, too, sometimes, by the way...but there are 1000s upon 1000s of stories of former orphans who have become sons and daughters again who have managed to overcome and thrive. Tamirat has seen and endured more in his little life than I will ever have to cope with in my own. I cannot even fathom circumstances at any point in my life, past, present or future, that would paint the portrait of existence that this little boy has lived. And yet, he smiles. Not only does he smile.....but he laughs and jokes and runs and climbs and plays tricks. He is resilient. His spirit is beautiful. He has the ability to feel and to cry and he has mourned in the past and will do so in the future. Here me say this - I DO NOT HAVE ON BLINDERS. I KNOW THAT THERE WILL BE GRIEF TO WORK THRU IN TAMIRAT'S LIFE. I KNOW THAT IT IS NOT GOING TO ALL BE PEACHES AND ROSES. HE HAS LOST ALOT AND WILL LOSE MORE WHEN HE IS TAKEN FROM THE ONLY SIGHTS, SMELLS, SOUNDS AND PEOPLE THAT HE HAS EVER KNOWN. IT IS NOT ALWAYS GOING TO BE EASY OR FUN. What I want people to take from this post, however, is this....it is a luxury in this country that we are able to mourn the loss of a child or the loss of a parent. If I lost a child, no one would be surprised if I curled into a ball for months. My friends and family would surround me. They would feed me and encourage me and let me cry. They would try to coax me back from the brink, knowing that I could not stay there forever and would eventually have to move forward. But they would understand the grief. When I lose my parents....an event that I hope is far, far, far in the future....I will be allowed to grieve and to cry...everyday for a year if that is what I need. People will understand when I am not myself and when I am not functioning the best at work. It is not this way in all parts of the world. 1 in 5 children die in infancy in Ethiopia. Wrap your mind around that....1 out of every 5 babies is expected to die before their first birthday. It is normal....it is a part of life. Death did not surprise Tamirat. He has seen alot of it. It is normal. Parents and siblings and neighbors and babies die all the time where he is from. We don't know what it is like to have dirty water and no access to medicine. We don't know what it is like to be given a day to cry over the death of our baby or our mother and then move on. Please don't take it for granted. Please treasure that we are allowed to value life the way that we are in this country....it is truly a luxury that many do not have. Do not wonder at my son's resilience...resilience is a way of life where he is from...and we could learn alot from him.