Mothers and Other Strangers

“For, out of this world, so tattered and torn

You came to our house on that wonderful morn,

And all of a sudden, this family was born.

Oh, Happy Adoption Day!”

-John McCutcheon

Today is National Adoption Day 2011….

And today, I am thinking of two women I’ve never met.

One has a son who is now 20 years old.  He is handsome and kind and funny.  He was a busy baby and a crazed toddler who made it his mission to remove all of the plastic containers from the cupboards every day of his second year of life. He has never fully trusted that there aren’t aliens who are poised to remove him from his bed.  He collected Pokemon cards.  He has a stuffed Panda collection.  When he was 16 months old, he cut his head open and had to have stitches. He hates peas.  His friends are his world.  He is a good money manager.  He is honest and loyal and a wonderful son and brother.

The other has a daughter who is 18.  She is a lovely young woman, both inside and out.  She sucked her thumb when she was a baby.  She danced until she was 16.  She is a lover of books and a lover of knowledge.  She has really tiny feet, which is only problematic when she tries to feed her shoe habit and can’t find anything age appropriate in the kids’ section.  She is a natural leader and is highly organized. She is honest and loyal and a wonderful daughter and sister.

Adoption is a miracle.

I know this, because I have raised two children other women gave birth to.  I was not a perfect mother, by any stretch.  But most days I did as much as I was capable of doing, and every day I loved them…even when I was tired..cranky…overwhelmed…uncertain.   If they doubt anything else in their lives, they need never doubt this.  I loved them with my whole heart, and soul.  And I still do.  And always will.

Most women never think twice about being able to conceive and bear a child.  Women who are infertile do not have this luxury.

Most women raise the children they’ve borne.  Women who, for many reasons, place a baby for adoption do not have this luxury.

Most children can sit down at a family function, look around the table, and see physical traits that bind them to others seated there.  Adoptive children do not have this luxury.

But something else binds us.    Love. 

I have seen my children take their first steps..and listened to them recite their alphabet all the way through the first time…and seen them learn to ride their bikes…and leave to go trick or treating.  I have rejoiced with them in their victories and mourned with them their sorrows.  I watched them as they went on their first dates.  I waited with them to find out if they’d passed their driver’s test.  And watched them receive their high school diplomas.

And I’ve thought of the women who labored, scared and alone, to bring them into the world more times than I can count.

They are strangers to me.  If I passed them on the street, I would not know them.

But they live here with me, and I never forget that.  Their genes and their traits and their personalities continue within the two people I love most in the world.

A son.  And a daughter.

Her son.

Her daughter.

Our children.

Happy Adoption Day.

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