If you knew then what you know now, would you still have done it? A church friend posed this to me about a year ago. She was referring to our experience in taking in two homeless boys in the summer of 2013. I cannot recall now what was going on at the time with one or both of them, (or maybe their mom and siblings) but I am sure we were dealing with one of many “mini crises”. My response? Well, you have to read to the end of this post to find out. This is a Mother’s Day Salute to those mothers out there who are raising someone else’s baby, and no, this is not a tribute to myself, it is a tribute to my mom.
Over 50 years ago, a young girl was faced with finding a home for her unplanned baby (well actually the pregnancy was planned, but more on that in my book). She traveled from Georgia to Kansas and delivered a healthy baby girl who four days later was given to a young family of three who wanted another baby. This is the very abbreviated version of how I came to live in my forever family. The point for today is, my Mother raised me, a baby from another mother. Lately, life events have made me ponder this amazing loving event even deeper.
Yes, for almost three years I have been trying to finish raising two boys from another mother. It has been one of, if not the, greatest life challenge thus far. I am not great at it, admittedly, but it has given me even greater appreciation for my own mother and all those mothers out there who are fostering or adopting children who were not their responsibility to raise. Children, who they chose to take in and love and care for knowing they are bringing the “baggage” of another family into their space and family. Yes, even newborn babies bring “baggage”. Since I was born in one of only two states that had open adoption records in the 1960’s, I have met my birth family. I am able to say that I brought genetic medical conditions and an intensely independent, persistent spirit, as “baggage” into my family.
Something that I heard this last week though made me really start thinking about the question from my friend again. I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Family Life Today and Sarah Parshall Perry was a guest. She was talking about her life as a woman who loved to plan and be in control and now she is the mother of three children, two of which have been diagnosed on the Autism spectrum. Her life is anything but planned and she obviously is not in control. She set my mind racing in many different directions (like normal for me), but I kept focusing on all the excuses I have heard people use for why they don’t consider adoption or fostering children. One common concern often voiced is “that you don’t know what you are getting” when you adopt or foster. Umm, I hate to break this to you all, but when you give birth to children, you don’t know what you are getting into either!
Back to the podcast, Sarah Perry didn’t know when she became a mother that she was going to have two children with autism. How many parents do you know who predicted their child would have a brain tumor, or diabetes, or a strong will, or a drug addiction, or a rebellious heart, or a mental illness, or leukemia or an accident on a four wheeler? I have known parents who experienced all of these things and not one of them predicted any of these things. Even if their family had histories of these illnesses, not one of them expected their baby to have it. They still had their babies though. They still got pregnant and they took on whatever came their way because of love and because someone had loved them and cared for them.
This is what adoptive/fostering mothers do. They love. They take on that baby or child or teen, knowing full well there will be problems, and challenges but they do it because they have enough love to cover it. It is an act of faith. Faith in knowing that whatever presents itself, God will provide whatever is necessary to handle it. Of course, sometimes though it might be better described as blind love, naiveté or just instinctively responding to an urgent need without completely considering what “might” happen.
As I close this post, I just want say to all those adoptive/fostering moms out there, good job Mom. Happy Mother’s Day! You deserve an extra star in your crown for loving those who were not your own. For those of you who have been dealing with infertility, I understand your desires. I have been there. I just want to challenge you to step back for a moment from drastic treatments options and consider, could God be calling you to take in a child who has no home? We all need to consider how can we help children who need a family. If you cannot take in a child, can you offer assistance to those who can? It truly does take a village to raise children.
So the answer to the question, “If you knew then, what you know now, would you still have done it?” The answer I gave her that day is still the same one I would give today, (despite all the recent struggles we have had). I replied, “Yes, because we really believed God was calling us to do it.”
Happy Mother’s Day Mom and thank you. Morgana gave birth to me, but you gave me life.