Dear Moms of Adopted Children, This Is Why I Distinguish You from a Mile Away …

The thing is, I knew you right away. I distinguish the fierce determination. The grit. The fight.

First, a quick note: I wrote this piece after reading an essaywritten by Lea Groverin the Huffiington Post , titled Dear Less-Than-Perfect Mom. The post by Lea was wonderful, and it built me think about us moms who foundour sweetbabies through adoption, and how we face unique challenges. I hope you enjoy it, whether you arethe mother of an adopted child or not.

Dear Mom of an Adopted Child ,

I fulfilled you in adoption education class. I fulfilled you at the agency. I fulfilled you at my sons school. I fulfilled you online. I fulfilled you on purpose. I fulfilled you by accident.

It doesnt matter. The thing is, I knew you right away. I distinguish the fierce determination. The grit. The fighting. Because everything about what you have was a decision, and nothing about what you have was easy. You are the kind of woman who Makes.Things.Happen. After all, you built this happen, this family you have.

Maybe you prayed for it. Perhaps you had to convince a partner it was the right thing. Perhaps you did it alone. Perhaps people told you to simply be happy with what you had before. Maybe someone told you it simply wasnt in Gods plans for you to have a child, this child whose hair you now brush gently from his face. Maybe someone warned you about what happened to their cousins neighbors friend. Perhaps you dismissed them.

Maybe you planned for it for years. Maybe an opportunity dropped into your lap. Perhaps you depleted your life-savings for it. Perhaps it was not your first choice. But maybe it was.

Regardless, I know you. And I see how you hold on so tight. Sometimes too tight. Because thats what we do, isnt it?

I know about all those books you read back then. The ones everyone reads about sleep patterns and cloth versus disposable, yes, but the extra ones, too. About dealing with attachment ailments, breast milk banks, newborns born addicted to alcohol, cocaine, meth. About cognitive lags, language deficiencies. About counseling support services, taxation and insurance issues, open adoption pros and cons, legal rights.

I know about the fingerprinting, the background checks, the credit reports, the interviews, the references. I know about the class, so many class. I know the annoyance of the never-ending paperwork. The hours of going over finances, of having garage sales and bake sales and whatever-it-takes sales to raise money to afford it all.

I know how you never lost sight of what you wanted.

I know about the match call, the rising of everything inside you to cloud-height, even higher. And then the tucking of that away because, well, these things fall through, you know.

Maybe you told your mother, a few close friends. Perhaps you shouted it to the world. Perhaps you allowed yourself to decorate a babys room, buy a car seat. Perhaps you bought a soft blanket, simply that one blanket, and held it to your cheek every night.

I know about your home visits. I know about your knuckles, cracked and bleeding, from cleaning every square inch of your home the night before. I know about you burning the coffee cake and trying tofix your mascara before the social worker rang the doorbell.

And I know about the followup visits, when you hadnt slept in three weeks because the newborn had colic. I know how you wanted so badly are demonstrating that you had it all together, even though you were back to running more-than-full-time, maybe without maternity benefits, without the family and casseroles and welcome-home balloons and plants.

And Ive watched you in foreign countries, strange lands, staying in dirty hotels, taking weeks away from work, struggling to understand whats being promised and whats not. Struggling to offer your love to a little one who is unsettled and afraid. Waiting, wishing, greeting, loving, flying, nesting, coming home.

Ive watched you down the street at the hospital when a newborn was born, trying to figure out where you belong in the scene thats emerging. Ive watched your face as you hear a nurse whisper to the birthmother that she doesnt have to go through with this. Ive watched you trying so hard to give this birthmother all of your respect and patience and compassion in those momentswhile you bite your lip and close your eyes , not knowing if she will change her mind, if this has all been a dream coming to an abrupt aim in a sterile environment. Not knowing if this is your time. Not knowing so much.

Ive watched you look down into a newborn infants eyes, wondering if hes genuinely yours, wondering if you can quiet your mind and good sense long enough to give yourself over completely.

And then, to have the child in your limbs, at home, that first night. His little fingers curled around yours. His warm heart beating against yours.

I know that bliss. The perfect, guarded, hopeful bliss.

I also know about you on adoption day. The nerves that morning, the magistrate, the formality, the relief, the joy. The letting out of a breath perhaps you didnt even know you were holding for months. Months.

Ive watched you meet your childs birthparents and grandparentsweeksoryears down the road. Ive watched you share your child with strangers who have his nose, his smile people who love him because hes one of them. Ive watched you hold him in the evenings after those visits, where reference is shaken and confused and genuinely simply wants a stuffed animal and to rest his head on your shoulder.

Ive watched you fret when your child brings home a family tree project from school. Or a request to bring in photos of him and his papa, so that the class can compare traits that are passed down, like blue eyes or square chins. I know you fret, because you can protect your child from a lot of things but you cant protect him from being different in a world so intent on celebrating sameness.

Ive watched you at the doctors office, filling out medical histories, leaving blanks, question marks, hoping the little blanks dont be transformed into big problems later on.

Ive watched you answer all of the tough questions, the questions that have to do with why, and love, and how much, and where, and who, and how come, mama? How come?

Ive watched you wonder how youll react the first time you hear the dreaded, Youre not my real mama. And Ive watched you smile softly in the face of that question, remaining pacify and caring, until you lock yourself in the bathroom and muffle your soft screams with the sound of the shower.

Ive watched you wince simply a little when someone says your child is lucky to have you. Because you know with all your being it is the other way around.

But most of all, I want you to know that Ive watched you look into your childs eyes. And while you will never consider a reflection of your own eyes there, you see something thats just as powerful: A reflection of your complete and unstoppable love for this person who grew in the midst of your tears and laughter, and who, if torn from you, would be like losing yourself.

Kathy Lynn Harris is a transparent novelist whose greatest accomplishments to date include raising the worlds smartest and most beautiful little boy, marriage a handsome and funny spouse who cooks up a entail taco, and adopting two untrainable golden retriever mixes who rack up so many food and veterinarian bills she has to crowdfund them. Read more at her blog .

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Dear Moms of Adopted Children
Kathy Lynn Harris

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