The other night Isabel, Noah and I were taking turns praying before I put them to bed. When it was Isabel’s turn she surprised me with this prayer:
“- Lord, be with S. and take care of her, because she could not take care of Noah and me.”
This came out of the blue, for we had not talked about her birthmother in a while. Wondering what was going through her mind I echoed her prayer in mine and lifted S.’s well being to the Lord.
When we said “amen” I braced for what I knew was coming.
“-Mami, why could S. not take care of us?”
“-Well, baby, because S. did not have a job or a house or any money and babies need a lot of things.”
“-Do you know where she lives?”
“-No, I don’t know where she is now.”
A few seconds of thoughtful quietness while I waited to see if there was more.
“-I am sad that S. does not have a house.”
“-I know, baby, so am I. Maybe we can pray that God gives S. a place to live.”
Something in the look on her face made me continue,
“-Now, you know that even if S. ever gets a house and a job you will not go live with her, right? I am your mommy and you are my baby, and we are a family so we will always live together.”
“-Why can I not go live with her?”
Gulp, swallow, illogical terror gripping me.
“-Well, do you want to go live with her?”
Shaking of the head no, eyes wide open. Terror gripping her?
“-That’s why. Because this is your home. And we are your family. But I’ll tell you what: when you are bigger, way bigger, big like mami, if you want to, maybe we can try to find her.”
No answer. Maybe too much just yet. But I did pray once more, out loud, for her sake.
“-Lord, please help S. know that the babies she had in her belly and loved but could not care for are doing well. That they have a mommy and a daddy that love them and that they are happy in their families.”
She seemed satisfied with this and went to sleep. I think she is beginning to understand her birthmother is an unseen part of our family and a strong part of her life. There is no pain yet, no understanding of loss or broken connection. That day will come and we will deal with it when it does. In the meantime, her presence among us is that of a far-away friend that we love and remember fondly, that we pray for and hope to see one day. Like a long-lost relative of sorts.
I carry her name in my heart like a treasure and I cherish what little I know of the woman whose greatest loss became my biggest gain. One day I hope to tell her so face-to-face.
I have been asked before: “Aren’t you afraid that their birthmother will come back and try to take them?” and I have heard some say to me: “You are so lucky that the birthmother does not know where you live!” and “Aren’t you worried that the kids will not see you as their mom if they ever met her?” All comments and questions born of ignorance of the adoption process, the legal standing of adoptive parents in our state, and plenty of misconceptions.
Our adoption is closed by S’ choice. I don’t know why and I don’t even try to guess. Maybe there will come a day when I can ask her. Maybe not. But we’ll talk, we’ll pray, and we’ll grieve on her behalf for as long as it takes.