Monday, August 1, 2011

The Other Half

So I'll start with a confession... we have switched churches. After a number of years at a great but huge church, we decided to find someplace smaller. We just felt lost in the crowd, and we really wanted that sense of real community. We have moved to a small Wesleyan church and we're so happy. The congregation tops out around 80 people. There's a bible study before church on Sunday, and two other during the week. But, best of all, people are authentic and truly know each other and get involved in each others' lives. We're totally diggin' it and we are so excited.

Yesterday we decided to hit the pre-church Bible study and we were glad we did. It was great. People really talked about their lives, about where they are coming from. We were enjoying the vibe of it, getting some great insight from others, and then my new friend F spoke up.

F is a beautiful native american woman who spoke, very candidly, about placing a child for adoption. I was crying the whole time she spoke, because I felt immediately connected to her and what she was talking about. She spoke about how she wanted so badly to change her mind, to keep her child, but through a lot of prayer she knew that it was selfish to do so. She spoke about her grief after relenquishment, and how God got her through it. Really, she only spoke about it for maybe two minutes, but I ate it up.

After Bible study I hugged her and we just cried on each other. We talked about adoption, candidly, from opposite sides of the same story. We talked about how hard it is to have another woman acting like or being a mother to your child. We talked about having to trust God through years of not even knowing if her child was alive and safe and healthy.

Adoption is referred to as a triad - the birth parent, the child, and the adoptive parents. I've never really known what to make of the first party. Sometimes I feel like it's a great thing that the birth mother does, other times I get mad at her for not keeping her child. I've judged the birth moms, defended them, wondered about them and never really seen them.

Sure, each situation is different. It's not some candy-coated platitude about how "your mother loved you so she gave you to us." It's gut wrenching. She suffered and grieved for over a year. She quietly celebrated each birthday, cried on "relenquishment days" and prayed continually for the child she never knew and still hasn't met - 24 years later. She felt the sting of rejection when her child declined to meet her. Not all birth mothers feel this way, I'm sure. Some probably do just not care at all, but I doubt that it's the majority.

I hope to introduce my daughter to my new friend and some day, way in the future, when we are old friends, I hope they can have a chat about what being the birth mother is like. Hopefully this wonderful woman could help my daughter come to peace with her birth mom, perhaps give her a sense of calm in knowing that it's unlikely that she was just forgotten or disposed of.

I know it's put my heart in a new place. It was easy before to villify my daughter's birth mother, to imagine her as some heartless chick who abandoned her child. It's not so easy to feel that way anymore. For the first time in this process, I feel real compassion for her. It's the compassion I need to have in order to give my daughter a healthy message about her adoption. It's compassion I want all of my kids to learn.

I love F for what she gave to that family so many years ago. I love my daughter's mother for what she has given me.

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