Friday, November 12, 2010

Mother's Day comes to November

Cancer normally rules my posts, but not today.  Today, I will not talk about how life has changed because of it.  I will not talk about seeing life through cancer's glasses as if life before cancer (BC) didn't matter as much or was somehow easier or I was somehow less aware of the world around me. I won't talk about how cancer taught me to enjoy the small moments. Nope, cancer doesn't get the headline today. It's been shoved harshly aside because today is the anniversary of my oldest son's adoption and I don't need some disease to teach me the importance of that.

Six years ago today, my husband and I stood in front of a judge in northern Russia and became a family of three. It's a day we celebrate every year, just as we do his birthday.  It might even be a bit more special since we weren't there at the time of his birth.  He was born to us six months later.

Recently, I read a blog that questioned the moment a woman knows she's a mother. Is it when a newborn is placed in your arms?  Is it earlier?  What was the signal that switched off self-centered narcissist and switched on caring, loving, nurturer?  That question is clearly meant for myself.  For the blogger, it was the first feeling of a flutter deep within her body.

That got me thinking, wondering how I can answer that question.  I'm a mother, but my babies were adopted.  I didn't have nine months of a life growing inside me.  My body didn't change into a physical reminder that, like it or not, I was about to become a mother. It was completely mental for me.

As with all impending arrivals, there was lots of baby talk. Lots of preparing for he or she in ways all parents do, buying clothes, setting up a room, but there were also ways no biological parent would ever know, such as divulging every personal and financial aspect of your life to triplicate.  There were many, many months spent sloshing through agency and government red tape, all for the goal of a baby... the idea of my baby.

Still no flutter.  When did I first feel like a mother?  It certainly wasn't when the judge declared me one, the baby wasn't even in the building, least of all, my arms.

About a month before that court day, my husband and I were standing in a sunny nursery filled with changing tables and square, wooden playpens large enough for several babies.  This was our first introduction to a Russian orphanage. We were surprised and pleased that it was so cheery.  The ladies taking care of the babies, these caregivers, were genuinely invested in their well-being.  They were loving.  Did they feel like surrogate mothers to these little ones that didn't have mothers or was it just a job?  Did they realize their actions would lay the foundation of who these children would be? Not my actions, not yet.

Eventually, our interpreter walked us over to a changing table where a lady was undressing a baby.  We were told he was ours. The sweetest boy I'd ever seen was squirming naked on a changing pad.  He looked good. Ten fingers, ten toes, but was this the baby I had been waiting for?  Hard to say.  I was waiting to feel something, a connection that was not biologically grown.

How is one supposed to feel the second they're given a six month old they've never seen before?  Immediate love? Is it instantaneous for those that have given birth? Is it easier to love when the baby's only moments have been spent with you? When his first six months are not unknown?  Who is this baby and can I love him? A lot of questions.

The caregiver dressed him, picked him up, turned his face to us and handed him over.  As I reached for my son for the very first time, that little face, that baldy-bean, gave me the most beautiful, toothless grin ever given to anyone on the planet in the history of mankind.  I was sure about that and sure of a flutter deep inside.  Here was my baby. It took a journey of more than a year and many thousands of miles to reach him, but he was my baby just the same as any biological mother's.  Here he was to love, a life to care for, nurture and share.  I was a mother in that moment.  Six years ago.  The best day ever.

PS.  In all honesty, the anniversary of that court date was November 10th, but with my kids off from school and my husband home recuperating from knee surgery, this post is a little late. The sentiment remains the same.


  1. We all feel the flutter one way or another as they all stem from our hearts!

    Lovely post, thank you for sharing!

  2. Stacey, Just a heart warming post! Congratulations as you celebrate this special day, (a day late, who cares!) Ah, motherhood, it's pretty special indeed and you know what, it just keeps getting better as they grow older! He sure had a great smile, and I'm sure still does, almost as if he knew he was one lucky baby that day.

  3. That made me cry. Again. Sniff. I love the photo and I loved sharing the experience of both your boys' adoptions from the front lines, waiting for our new nephews to come home where they belong. Your experience sealed for me what I had always suspected--that maternal love is not merely biological. Now, whenever anyone refers to someone else's child as "her adopted son," I bristle--that word, "adopted," feels completely unnecessary. A son is a son. My bond with the two cherished boys I delivered into this world has the same depth as your bond with the two you traveled across the world to deliver home. :-)

  4. To Alethea, I totally agree. What a beautiful way to say it! Thank you again for writing the sweet post that inspired me.

    To Nancy, Thank you for your comments. I don't know if the baby knew he was lucky that day, but we believed we were the lucky ones and will forever feel that way.

    To Wendy, I believe as you do and as you said, "A son is a son." There is no way I could love my boys anymore if I had delivered them myself and I find it frustrating when people can't understand that. Thank you for writing it so beautifully.

    Anna, Thank you! That was a very special day for me and I'm thrilled to share it.

    Sorry for the group comment, but time is short here these days. I'm behind. Thank you all for reading and sharing your thoughts, as always!

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  6. What an amazing moment that must have been! I imagine it was exactly the same as a mom having a newborn placed in her arms; your baby was just a little older!

    Hello to a fellow AOW supporting blogger! It's nice to "meet" you!

  7. Ginny Marie, it was a moment I'll never forget. Very special. Thanks so much for reading. It's nice to meet you, too.