As a starry eyed 18 year old, I fervently prayed the kind of prayer that only extremely idealistic 18 year olds pray. I prayed that I would never get pregnant. Yup. I had been learning about all the children in this world who need families. Why create more children when so many already exist? But I knew I’d need some help if I was going to follow through with this. Pregnancy is easier, cheaper and raises less eyebrows. It was completely logical to ask for some divine intervention.
Three years into our ‘unexplained infertility’ I began apologizing to Sean about why it looked like were weren’t going to have a little Shenny. “Well you see when I was 18…”
One day, I’ll probably share more details of our road to adoption. (It’s a hard and stupidly expensive road.) But today I want to share one of the most surprising discoveries on this road to Leo becoming ours.
Oh, wait, have you heard the news? One month ago, we adopted the most perfect little boy. No seriously. Just look at this face.
(Clarification – You’re probably reading his name as ‘Lee-o’. Totally understandable. But just so we could keep everyone on their toes, it’s actually Lay-o. If you forget and call him Lee-o we shant not be offended.)
There is much joy in adoption but it’s impossible to overlook the fact that adoption cannot exist without brokenness and pain. There were times in the four days between when we heard about him and when he came home with us that I thought I would crack under the weight of this brokenness. I always play the role of comforter and fixer for those who suffer. In this, I was acutely aware that this momentous occasion that was about to bring us so much joy was also going to cause this beautiful woman who carried our little Leo in her womb inexplicable pain. It was paralyzing.
I have heard over and over again that we need to protect his story. That there are things that we should stay mum about until he decides what he wants shared about his life. But I feel pretty confident that what I will share today is something that he will always be proud of.
From the moment he was ours, I was committed and excited. It was fun to have people come over and gush about him. The best feeling in the world is to have baby sleep on your chest and suddenly this sleeping baby is MINE?? And those teeny clothes? Be still my heart. But it was a few weeks in until I started to understand all the people who asked “Do you just watch him sleep for hours?” I would smile in affirmation but then think “I mean….no….but I’m still a good mom, right?” I still don’t watch him for hours (who has the attention span for that?) but I sure do miss him when he naps. I find myself gushing about the smallest of things. (Sean! Sean! He’s grasping that ring! We have the smartest baby in the world!!)
He has become fully, completely, 100% ours and we now sit around talking about how we cannot imagine life without him.
But do you know who is doing just that?
His first mom.
He was three weeks old when he became ours. For those first three weeks, he was with her. And he was so loved.
It can be easy to judge where he came from. It’s sadly natural to think of the woman in these stories who gave life in terms of weaknesses, character flaws or cowardice. Having now walked this road, I’m blown away by just how false this is. She is one of the strongest and most selfless people I have met. She carried this child for 9 months when there were other options. She bonded with this child but remained resolute in her desire for this child she loves to have a life that she cannot currently provide.
We have an open adoption which means that she’ll see him a few times a year and I text her photos and updates most days. She always asks for more pictures of him WITH us. She wants to see us beaming with him in our arms, kissing his perfect little face. She wants to see him loving us.
She wants to see that she is being replaced by what she thinks is better.
Do you have any idea how much strength one must have to find comfort and joy knowing that someone you deeply love, is entirely bonded to someone(s) else? Maybe I’m just incredibly selfish and this is revolutionary to no one other than me.
Last week, I was singing him songs (that involved making him do the sprinkler dance) and watching the first toothless grins spread across his face and my eyes filled with tears of gratitude for this giant sacrifice that she has made. I never ever thought that when we adopted a child, his biological mom would become one of my heroes. That I would aspire to be more like her.
This is the legacy that we want Leo to own. That the decision she made was the result of her aching love for him. That he is so incredibly worthy. And that the presence of pain doesn’t mean there is a lack of love. Because for this little one? We’re all bursting with it.