I know it’s really spelled “Mother’s Day”. Everyone knows that. The apostrophe means it’s a day for a Mother. It’s her day. It’s the day to reflect on what a Mother means to their child. It’s a day to remember a Mother or a Grandmother who is no longer with us and how her life impacted their family. Mother’s Day: a day for Mothers; a day for children to honor their Mother, mother-in-law, step-mother, grandmother, aunt, godmother or even a special woman in their life who was motherly.
For some, Mother’s day is a long anticipated day filled with surprises and flowers and relaxing and cards and art projects and dinner out. It’s a day where Mom is treated like a queen to make up for all the other days where Mom is the servant, the family glue, the chauffeur, the nurse, the care-giver, the teacher, the therapist, the prayer warrior, the cook, the seamstress, the house-keeper, and everyone’s person. I venture to guess rarely do mothers feel like queens amidst the sleep deprivation, the sticky floors, the endless laundry and dishes and lists of things that never really get done. Then add in the demands of a career and spouses and the PTA and church and all the things that mothers do in the name of making the world a better place.
For some, Mother’s Day is a cruel reminder of a loved one taken too soon. It’s filled with sadness because someone is missing from our celebration, someone has left us with only memories and photographs and home movies. Perhaps it’s a reminder that this Mother’s Day was supposed to be the year where a woman had become a mother through birth or through adoption but still they wait in a sea of disappointment and dissolution as to why their dream of motherhood is still unfulfilled. Perhaps it is the unthinkable Mother’s Day where a mother is childless because of a tragedy that took their child from their womb or from this earth too soon. Perhaps this Mother’s Day feels empty.
For those of us who have adopted, we may share Mother’s Day with an unknown mother. We look at our children and wonder who their first mother is or was and if Mother’s day is a cruel reminder of the child they carried and birthed, but who now runs through our homes and has taken residence in our heart and soul. I look at our daughter and wonder if her first mother has the same eye dimples. I wonder if they share a similar laugh, a love of chocolate, and if she loves to be outside too. I wonder as our three-year-old grows and realizes that she, unlike her older siblings – didn’t grow within me; if Mother’s day will be bittersweet for her too because a piece of her beginning is unknown and missing and unanswered. Her history has missing pieces that I cannot fill apart from a miracle. I wonder if soon Mother’s Day will be difficult for her; a reminder of her loss and questions that may never be answered this side of heaven.
I celebrated Mother’s day in China two years ago. I was tickled to say the least, when I realized that our adoption trip would fall over Mother’s day and that it would be an unforgettable one – and it certainly was. For 14 years I celebrated Mother’s Day with one or two children and on my 15th Mother’s Day, we were 7 days into our new normal as a family of 5. It was then that it became Mothers Day for me because I cannot dismiss the Mother with whom I share a daughter.
Grace’s first mother a hero to me. Our very sick daughter was placed in a very public place where she was sure to be found. She didn’t have to choose to remain pregnant and could have terminated her pregnancy. Many babies born with birth defects aren’t kept alive or given a chance to have treatment.
Grace’s first mother could have done things very differently. I wonder often about her and pray that she would know Christ as her Savior so that someday we can share our daughter in eternity. I wonder if she has other children. I wonder if our adorable missing piece from her life weighs heavy on her heart because as much as I wonder about her, I imagine she wonders about our little girl. I wish I could tell her how wonderful Grace is and that she is thriving and that her birth defects don’t hold her back. I wish I could tell her what a fierce, feisty, smart over-comer our daughter is and how she has taught me to be an over-comer too. I wish I could tell her that I will go to my grave honoring her for giving our daughter a chance to live and thrive and laugh and have eye dimples and call me Mama.
Mothers Day. I don’t know when Grace will realize that other children look more like their Mothers than she looks like me. I don’t know when that conversation will happen and the story will be spun of why her first mother placed her in a very busy place to be found instead of keeping her and raising her but until I know differently, the story will be one of sacrifice and hope and love. It is a story of a first mother who loved her enough to give her a chance at life and healing and living. It’s the story a forever mother who sought and fought and brought this daughter home and made her my own. Some say adoption is costly, and it is – it costs a first mother the most unselfish act of love and sacrifice. It costs a forever mother a most unselfish act of love and sacrifice and some other things too, – but the worth of a daughter or a son is priceless… every Mother knows that.
On this Mother’s Day I’m so grateful for the Mothers in my life. I’m grateful for my Mother who gave me life and raised me to love well and value life and advocate for our children and be a heart-mom-warrior. I’m grateful or my late Mother-in-law who taught her little boy to work hard and be kind to others and crafted an unselfish heart and generous spirit into the man I married. I’m so grateful for that both women accepted and loved our Chinese daughter as if she was born into our family and delighted in her as they did and do with all of their grandchildren. Not everyone is as blessed as I have been for the women I’ve called “Mom”.
Mother’s Day can be the sweetest of days or the most difficult of days because life on earth is imperfect. God’s design for a family is often not what it looks like here on earth. Brokenness, tragedy, sickness, and separation can easily transform days that are supposed to be about flowers and cards and rainbows into ditches of grief and tragic reminders of broken dreams. Yet, even in the midst of loss God can redeem and make new life. He creates beauty from ashes, and hope from despair. He works all things together for good (Romans 8:28). He invented adoption by adopting us to be His own and making a way for relationship with Him when mankind broke away from God’s original design. Through Jesus we are children of God, heirs in His Kingdom and have eternity waiting for us with our Father in heaven. We who have adopted here on earth know the miracle of loving children made ours through adoption – not born of our bodies but born in our hearts and souls.
Happy Mother’s Day to all who have a reason to celebrate this day; whether it is with a Mother or Grandmother still with you or one who lives on in your memory. To the mothers who are the glue and the go-to-person for their family, the nurse the chauffeur, the one who makes life function and work and flow; continuing to dig deep and pour out into the lives of your children and grandchildren – I hope your day is a reflection of the investment into your mission and ministry in your home. I hope this Mother’s Day is one where you are empowered to keep on keeping on because even the little things that go unnoticed, matter. God sees you – you are known by Him.
To the Mothers who share their child with an unknown first mother on the other side of the world, I wish you the happiest of Mothers Days and pray that He who saw fit to bring us into the lives of our children through adoption will carry us on as we navigate this miracle of adoption and be the best forever mothers we can be.