On Loving The Other Mothers

In just a few weeks, our wee girl is going to be finishing her first year of school. We’ve wrestled our way through, and all three of us have grown over the last months. Although she’s still my baby, she’s growing so fast, and in some ways, it’s hard to remember what those first days when we became parents were like. The time is moving so quickly. I’m a bit baffled seeing other babies who were her age when she landed in our arms. They seem so very, very tiny – and, because the weight of what we were being entrusted with seemed so huge, she never did seem that small to us.

There are some specific dates and occasions every year that I think about how we became a family, and since June is when we first met her, this season is ripe with remembering. I think of the people who placed our beloved girl in our arms. Those people we now love, who chose us to become Mama and Daddy. 

In becoming a mother, my heart has grown tender for those who give birth, but aren’t able to parent. Because honestly, just because you can’t parent, doesn’t mean your heart doesn’t long for the baby you birthed. As women, we should get that. Like Holley says, all women are mothers, bringing life into this world in so many ways. Mothers with babies in heaven also understand this – with their wee one cared for and loved, but with empty arms on earth.

Last month, in front of a group of beautiful, diverse women, I shared a bit about adoption and how I couldn’t love my sweet daughter more. How she is my inheritance, and everything I have is hers. I shared my heart on loving the sisters who end up in the margins; these birth moms, who don’t often get to hold their babies even as they grow up safe and loved in another mother’s home. I spoke about how fiercely I will champion the women who have to place their children in the arms of someone else – those other mothers. For two years now, my friends and I have packed purses and gift bags full of hospital supplies for birth Moms in our community who will walk into the hospital (often with only a social worker for support) with a baby in their womb, and walk out with empty arms. Women who for, whatever reason (which is none of our business, really, although people tend to be nosy about this) just can’t parent. I love those women deeply.

After I shared, my emotions already a bit wrung-out, a lovely woman slightly older than me, approached me with the hugest smile. She grabbed my arms, coming face to face with me, as only a loved one normally would, and said, “Thank you for loving our babies.” She shared – shame-free – how her own babies had been placed for adoption many years before. She shared about how grateful she was for Mamas like me. Mamas who have been chosen by adoption. We hugged and hugged, as I got the privilege of standing in the place of the adoptive moms of her babies. Her words were such a gift to me.

I was a total, weepy mess.

The only reason I get handed home-made crafts and flowers on Mother’s Day, or get called Mama in the middle of the night, or have the opportunity to make school lunches for my baby girl, is because another mother endured loss. It’s a complicated motherhood and the most precious of gifts. It’s why I’ll champion open adoption, wherever it is possible and safe and good for the beloved kiddos involved.

When that precious Mama grabbed me to say thank you, words failed me. All I had was, “No – thank YOU. I will honour you.” And tears – I had lots of tears.

This sisterhood of the birth moms and adoptive moms, is one of the rawest, most potentially complicated, imperfect, misunderstood, beautiful, precious, redemptive sisterhoods possible, I suspect. One blog post can’t do this justice really.

To those of you who have placed your baby in someone else’s arms – this crazy grateful Mama thanks you. Thank you for entrusting an imperfect Mama like me to love your wee one with all I’ve got in me. It is my absolute greatest privilege to be the mother of a child another woman birthed. I’m also so sorry for your pain. I want you to know – you’re not forgotten. Every June I remember you. On behalf of us adoptive moms, thank you for loving our babies, loving us, and allowing us to be part of your family. You will always be part of ours.

Friends, when we think of sisterhood, can we consider all our mother’s hearts, and especially those brave and broken ones, who have taken that piece of their heart and entrusted it to another’s care? Can we be kind to each other? Honestly, we have no idea who we’re bumping elbows with, day after day, and what losses they’ve known. Our stories are not simple.

If you liked reading this, you’ll like On Having an Adoptive Mother’s Heart. (hint: you can have one too!)


Holley Gerth Linkup