Thursday, December 13, 2007

Honoring a Birthmother

It was about the third day after receiving our referral of our precious new daughter, that I began thinking once again about her birthmother. I had been praying for her birthmother over the past 2 years, but really felt a connection to her after seeing the face of Bo Qian. I look at this referral picture and see a perfect child. Though I didn't carry her for 9 months nor have I met her, I have a great love for this child. Then I think about how her birthmother did carry her for 9 months, and perhaps during that time, she also carried the knowledge that she would have to relinquish her for whatever reasons. I feel certain that when her birthmother saw that same precious face that I see, she too loved her greatly, was heartbroken, and grieved that she would not be able to see her grow up.

Adoption is full of not only gains, but also losses. I think that recognizing these losses makes us better, more empathetic adoptive parents, who have been entrusted to care for our child due to unfortunate circumstances.

I've learned a great deal from Paula who is a Korean adoptee, as well as an adoptive parent. Many times, I've cried reading her blog. She has enabled me to see a different perspective and for that I'm grateful. Below is an excerpt from a post that she wrote:

It is impossible for me to look at our son and not think of his mother in Korea. And though I do acknowledge his first father in equal importance and significance, I think I tend to naturally and emotionally gravitate toward his mother for obvious reasons. It's perplexing to me why I think about, journal about and dream more about our son's mother than I do my own, and yet perhaps I feel so strongly connected to her because as mothers, we share an amazing little boy. A little boy who can light up a room with his mischievous smile, effortless wit and his seemingly endless abundance of energy. She is his mother. I am his mother. And together, he is our son.

Many nights when I'm rocking him to sleep I'll start talking out loud to her about our day and what he's been up to. I'll tell her about his favorite stuffed animal - affectionately known as Snuggle Pup - his voracious appetite for anything salty or sweet, and how he loves to sweep the floors with his own mini-set of cleaning supplies. I'll tell her how much he loves his tool kit, his banana-strawberry flavored Chapstick and how he absolutely abhorbs to have his nose wiped or his ears cleaned.

And I tell her that I'm sorry. Sorry for the circumstances beyond her control that separated her from her son. Sorry for the reasons that continue to exist in her, our son's and my birth country that prevented them to be able to stay together. I'm so sorry for the pain and for the loss that she will carry forever because her son is not with her. I tell her though I cannot possibly fully understand or truly know how deep her sorrow runs and how raw her pain is, that my heart is heavy and so sorry for her loss. And often times I cry, because there are just no words I can give her.

And I tell her how much we love him. How much we truly do love him. And that we talk about her every day, because she is after all, part of our family - such an important part of our family. And I tell her that we promise to honor her the very best way we know how and to show him in our words and in our actions that he is loved by all of his parents.

I think of the messages I received as a child about my own first parents. Always, always I felt that they loved me. As a child, this brought me great comfort, and on some level, I felt as if I understood them in my own way, even though I didn't have the words. Now as an adult, I've begun to ask the difficult and ambiguous questions about my Korean parents, and yet still, I feel their love.

And the tears probably come so easily to this otherwise emotionally reserved person, because in addition to the immeasurable depth of love I have for our son, I also feel in equal amounts of hurt and sadness for his mother in Korea. It is not a feeling that I believe impedes my ability to be the best mother that I can be to our son, but a feeling that hopefully makes me a mother who honors his entire being by recognizing the very real loss and pain his mother feels by being separated from him - her son.

Adoption has no easy answers - no easy way to explain the truths of our children's history. One truth that will never change is that she is his mother- first and always - and my husband and I firmly believe that we will do the best for our son when we do our best by her and our son's father.

With humble and compassionate hearts - now and always - we hope to do our best by them.

May we as adoptive parents do our best to honor our child's birthmother and birthfather.


Jen Talley said...

Wow...I'm adding her to my favorites. She has so much insight to an adoptees world and an AP.

Shawnstribe said...

Courtney, so good to follow your blog!
your baby is so so beautiful, thank you for all your postings on my blog, they are greatly appreciated.
I bet you cant wait to hold her in your arms

fisherblog said...

I really enjoyed reading this entry and all your blogs. You are so insightful and I am inspired by your journey!

Your daughter is beautiful!

fisherblog said...

I have enjoyed reading this entry and following your blog. You are truly inspiring and what a beautiful journey you have been on and are about ready to embark upon. I am so happy for you and you will be amazing parents. I have no doubts that her birth parents would be proud.

Your daughter is beautiful and you are so blessed!


Kelly (The Barefoot Mama) said...


I found your blog through another and am so glad that I did. One of my best friends is beginning the process of international adoption in the fall. She's an amazing woman with an equally amazing husband, and I think that she would find your blog such a comfort and encouragement.

Praying that you have a wonderful and blessed holiday season - your daughter is beautiful!