Tuesday, September 14, 2010
One year ago today....
One year ago today I met my youngest daughter Rosie for the first time at her orphanage in Ethiopia. It's hard for me to believe that it has only been a year- she is such a part of our family that it seems like she has been with us forever. Last fall, our kids school published a book of essays where students teachers and parents were invited to contribute essays of 500 words or less modeled after the writing pieces featured on NPR. This is the piece that I submitted.
I believe that adoption is a wonderful way to build a family.
I became a mother in two different ways. I gave birth to three
children and adopted three children. Both avenues to parenthood were
magical. No thrill came close to that of meeting my children for the
first time. There was no difference between meeting my daughters in
the hospital delivery room, my sons in Guatemala, or my youngest
daughter in an orphanage in Ethiopia. In the trenches of parenting,
biology doesn't matter. Genetics mean little. Love is what carries the
day, what pulls you through, what holds a family together. There is no
second best way to create a family. Through adoption, our family has
been blessed and enriched in ways too numerous to count.
Like all parents who have adopted from countries in distress, the
children we met who are still waiting for parents, stay in my heart as
much as the children who became my family. Most adoptive parents will
agree that this heaviness is a side effect of international adoption.
While we all feel proud and fortunate to have our children safe and
home, we carry the faces of those children waiting for parents in our
hearts. Those are the children that we think of as we protect our own
children. We think of them often when we hold our own children tight
against pain and sadness. Since our first adopted son cam home from
Guatemala, my thoughts go immediately to the children living in
orphanages every time one of our children is sick or frightened in the
middle of the night. Children need parents in order to survive and
grow and no one knows this better than an orphan who is longing for a
family of their own.
When I picked up our youngest daughter from the orphanage where she
had lived for most of her young life, a girl of about seven ran out to
greet me. She stopped short, looked me in the eye, grinned and said
something I couldn't understand. I bent closer and she spoke again and
I realized that she was speaking to me in English, not her own
language, and that she was softly and uncertainly introducing herself
to me. My heart broke for her. I know that children her age do not
speak to adults unless they have a very good reason. Her good reason
was that she was desperate for a mother and I looked like I had
potential to fill that role. The terrible sad truth is that in
introducing herself to a stranger, this little girl was speaking for
all of the waiting children at the orphanage, and by extension,
orphans everywhere hoping for parents of their own.
Becoming a parent is a personal leap of faith and an act of love.
Becoming an adoptive parent is exactly the same. While I understand
that the journey of adoption can be a difficult path to begin, I will
attest that the rewards have far exceeded the challenges. It is my
hope is that more families would consider adoption as a loving way to
build a family.