“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.
- Cell phone- Dang it - where’s my cell phone?
In a flurry of my own activity, I nearly missed the opportunity I’d waited for - the moment my daughter pulled me into a conversation about her adoption rather than me pushing it on her Fortunately, before I completely missed the moment, I found a fast response:
“That’s a great question babe, let’s go talk about it inside - Daddy’s waiting for us.”
Adoption day breakfast
I located my phone and we headed inside the “house with waffles” - her request. I normally wouldn’t have marched so enthusiastically into a bright yellow Waffle House, but like they say: kids change everything.
I would have eaten breakfast in a prison cafeteria if that’s how she wanted to celebrate her adoption day. We'd gone out for breakfast to honor our "Mae Day,” the day we got to bring her home and started our family.
Once we made it through two different glass doors, the smell of bacon and waffle batter hit me. The gray-haired senior adults gave us nice smiles. We found Daddy, ordered, and within minutes, dove into the food covering our table.
How we answered "Why was I adopted?"
With full bellies, I returned to Mae's great question about why she was adopted.
“Mae, can we talk about why you were adopted again?”
Although she wasn’t as eager to discuss it, she seemed open.
“You were adopted because your birth mom needed help.”
Although we’d used this answer every time her adoption story came up, I wanted to go deeper and help her understand.
“Tell me something that is really easy for you to do," I asked her.
"Singing," Mae said.
Mike and I agreed, and mentioned she was also great at math and reading. Then, Mike and I took turns saying things that came easy for us but not for others.
“Being a dad,” Mike said.
“Writing,” I added.
She seemed to understand. But then, I flipped it:
“Now, tell me something that’s harder for you but easier for other people to do.”
We all thought for a second and Mike chimed in first,
We locked eyes and gave each other a nod - that was true (for both of us.). Mae thought a little longer and came up with her answer.
“Holding a spider!”
She was starting to get it. With her bacon gone and only a few pieces of waffle left on her plate, I hurried to wrap things up:
“Your birth mom was very good at loving and growing you, but taking care of a baby and raising a kid didn’t come as easily for her. So, she made a hard decision and asked us to help her. That’s why you were adopted.”
Mae seemed appeased at the answer and went on to finish the rest of her waffle and sips of chocolate milk.
As I finished my own waffle, the reality sank in: She let us help her.
Birth moms asking us to help - that's adoption
There are many definitions of adoption, but one of my favorites is what we told Mae that day. Her birth mom asked us to help raise her child. She trusted us to take her precious baby and give her a family and a home.
A woman who chose to carry a child in her womb found the strength to ask strangers to help her raise it. She humbly shared her weaknesses to family members and social workers, adoption lawyers and judges so we could walk through a legal process that allowed us step in and raise her kid.
What a miracle - adoption.
What a reason - love.
That's all my daughter needed to know that day about why she was adopted.