Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Birth parents and adoption

With our trip looming in the not-so-distant-future (less than a WEEK away, people!), we have been having lots of birth parent conversations lately.  (This photo, and the rest of the photos in this post, are from over five years ago when we picked up our sons in Ethiopia.  How they've grown!!!)

Maybe you've noticed that I don't share too terribly much here about my sons' story because, well, it's THEIR story--not mine.  It's a fine line we blogging mamas walk, isn't it?  While I want to be transparent and open about my life, I always want to respect my children in this space.  That comes first.  And for us, that means that I simply can't blurt out every little detail surrounding their first sixteen months of life.

What I can tell you is that we have our sons' birth mother's name and some other family background information.  We tried (oh, how we tried) to find her while we were in Ethiopia in early 2006, but to no avail.  We are trying again.

And so my sons are asking lots of questions and we're having lots of good conversation.  I'm loving it.  It can be hard, yes, and we find ourselves saying "I don't know" quite a bit, in addition to heading down various rabbit trails that seem so grown up for six year old boys.  But still it is really, really good.  Yosef and Biniam are at a place where they feel incredibly comfortable asking questions and I feel like we're having healthy dialogue.  So even though it is sad, I am grateful because we're openly communicating about it.

These sorts of life issues are...heavy.  It's not drama and it's not sensationalism, it's not fairy tales and it's not's the life and story of my very children.  It's stuff that will take a lifetime to process through, because even though the story remains the same, my kids won't.  Yosef and Biniam will grow and change and as they do, I am sure that their questions, concerns and thoughts will change too.

Last night after dinner one of my sons was saying he loved his birthmom, and wished we could help her.  Then he wanted to know if I think about her often, and what exactly I think about when I remember her.  I answered honestly and told him that I think about her quite often, and that I wish things had been different, that I think she is a very brave woman, and that I wonder what she looks like.  I told him that I too desperately wish we could help her.  I told him that I am so sorry that she, due to some very difficult life circumstances, was not able to raise her precious sons.  But that I am so blessed that they are now my own sons.  Because if she wasn't able to do it, I am so grateful that I get to be their adoptive mom.  (I have never felt envious of their birth mother, or defensive.  I LIKE hearing my boys say they love her and care about her.  I WANT them to have a special place in their hearts for her.  I think that is healthy, and good.)

See, adoption doesn't end at placement.  Or at finalization.  Maybe the legal process does, but adoption itself is a lifetime endeavor.  The past is never erased, and part of training up my adopted children includes teaching them their story, and giving them the tools to handle that story well.  That may look different at different ages.  And it's a sad story, even if there is some beauty in the fact that God had His hand on these boys and looked after them when neither their birth mother nor I was there. 

So we will continue talking, and attempting to navigate these stories with love and with truth.  We may not do it perfectly, but we're trying, and I hope our sons will look back and see that if nothing else, they could ask questions and receive honest answers.  Even if sometimes all we can say is, "I don't know."


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