“Mama, why was I adopted?”
The weight of her question barely registered as my mind focused on the invisible checklist that appears every time I exit the car:
Purse – check.
Wallet – check.
Keys – check.
Dang it – where’s my cell phone?
In a flurry of my own activity, I nearly missed the opportunity I’d been waiting for – the moment my daughter was pulling me into a conversation about her adoption rather than having me (once again) push it on her.
Fortunately, before I completely missed the moment, I found a fast response:
My armpits were sweating to the point I felt the seam of my shirt begin to stick to my side each time I maneuvered the car seat around the big oval table under the judge’s chair. It wasn’t exactly the image I’d dreamed up as a child about the day I’d adopt a baby and become a mom – but then again as a child I wasn’t fully aware of underarm perspiration.
Beige, dinged up walls void of anything pretty or colorful surrounded us. They looked nothing like what I assumed an adoption courthouse would – no majestic stairways or velvet draped curtains to welcome the judges overseeing some of the county’s most important cases – child adoption and placements. What a bummer.
The fact I was standing in the courthouse in January, four months after the September we’d pulled the trigger and five months before the soonest we were told we’d have a baby, blew me away and caused a decent amount of anxiety and stress.
Nothing was happening the way I’d expected or planned.
It’s National Adoption Month! To celebrate, I’ll be posting stories and devotionals that carry the heart of adoption all month long. Having a spirit of adoption goes beyond the literal adopting of a child. Adoption is a mindset and attitude. Adoption means you open your heart to a new definition of family – one that goes beyond the traditions of blood line. In addition to child adoption, a spirit of adoption can also include things like joining families through marriage and blended families. Today’s post was inspired by a recent trip where I visited my step-siblings and God provided blessing upon blessing through our blended family. Enjoy!
He matched his daddy. Both in trendy camel pants, the 18-month old tottled around the yard going as fast as his little feet would allow. He’d stop to climb on the neighbor’s patio chair or attempt to pull a young plant from the yard. To distract him, his daddy called to him in English from across the yard.
An acapella beat broke out and the little boy stopped to wiggle and move, a bright smile broke out on his face. But after only a few seconds, he stopped and looked around for his mommy.
“Mama!” “Mama,” he called.
And soon a calming voice speaking Spanish replied to him from across the way, “Mi Amor!”
Again and again the call and response.
“Mama!” “Mi Amor.” “Mama!” “Mi Amor.”
He stopped once he received her embrace, but only for a few seconds. Soon, he was running through the yard again near his daddy.
It’s less than 13 months, but the way I treat my “baby” brother sometimes, you’d think I was at least several years older than him. For over 30 years now, I’ve gladly taken on the role as firstborn in our family. As a child, I volunteered as Mom’s helper – who needs fake dolls when you’ve got a real baby in the house? Even as an adult, my firstborn tendencies appear. I like to make a plan. I can be a mother hen. I love to pull everyone together. Most birth order books explain my personality well.
While the “take charge” attitude bodes well in circles such as school and work, I’ve learned it’s not as advantageous when it comes to spiritual things. For years I organized my Bible studies and followed a system for my faith. If there was a box to check – I checked it. I saw myself as a spiritual “mother hen” to many hearts longing to know God. Until one day, something wasn’t working for me anymore. I felt empty. Life seemed dark. And I wasn’t sure who I was anymore; my identity was lost.