In the fall of 2011, my wife and I had three beautiful children that we had been parenting for just about 2 years. There had been talk of adoption and it was so close I could taste it. Brown skin, curly hair, and the most adorable button noses – they weren’t of my flesh or blood, but they were surely of my sweat and tears and they were mine.
Not just mine, though. They will never be just mine. They belong to her as well – their biological mom…their first mom. We had corresponded via notes in backpacks back and forth when the children would go for their weekly visits with her, but I had never actually spoken to her. A woman, with whom I shared one of the most challenging, yet powerful bonds, and I had never talked to her. It’s crazy to think back on now, but not unusual in the foster world.
I had never met her, never spoken with her, but through our connection, I had come to know a tiny piece of her. I knew her as a person who laughed, and struggled, and dreamed, and loved her children.
One September day I came face to face with what I had known all along when I met my children’s mother.
I couldn’t eat a thing that morning…my stomach was full of nerves and I was too busy deciding what in the world you are supposed to wear for this type of thing. My son, the oldest, shared his hesitation before he headed off to school, “I don’t know about this. You are very…different. Just remember she is going to feel nervous.”
My wife and I drove to the meeting together hardly talking – I was trying to mentally brainstorm things to talk about at the meeting. That, and willing my stomach to quit it with the flip-flopping.
Through the glass doors of the DCF building, I saw her before she saw me. I recognized her instantly from the shape of my son’s face, daughter’s eyes, and baby’s nose. Beautiful, like they are.
We walked in and she greeted us with a big smile. In that instant, my nerves disappeared. It no longer felt like two worlds were colliding. It didn’t feel strange or uncomfortable. It felt right. After all this time – I was right.
There is no script for this type of meeting. No amount of life experience can prepare you for something like this, but the love for our children guided us through.
She was easy to talk to, kind, and appreciative. I tried to be all the same. We hit it off even. We laughed about our daughter’s silly escapades at dance class and shared pride in our son’s school accomplishments. We smiled the same smile as we talked about our chubby baby and that sweet twinkle in her eye. She talked about how their personalities were similar and different to their other, older, siblings. How when R does this, it’s so very similar to that brother and how M’s spunk surely comes from this family member. She showed us pictures of the people R still often talks about. My knowledge of the three children I live with every day became richer and deeper. Such a gift.
I can’t imagine what it must have been like to be sitting on her side of the table (with the whole world seemingly being on mine), but if it was hard for her, she didn’t let me know. The grace and resilience that I see in the faces of my children every day was right there looking back at me.
The meeting ended just as naturally as it started. She thanked us – for everything. We thanked her – for everything. And we hugged.
In that moment I saw just how deeply blessed our children are. Unconventionally, sure, but they are loved. Three women brought together by the fierceness, grace, and sacrifice of a mother’s love. I’ve yet to find words for the bond we share. In some ways, in that moment, I’ve never felt more proud to be a woman…to be a part of this tribe of mothers.