Saturday, May 10, 2014

(Happy) Birth Mother's Day

I recently learned that the day before Mother's Day is Birth Mother's Day.  I had planned to write this beautiful tribute to Sara's birth mother.  One about how grateful I am that she gave her life (I am) and how she made the self-less decision to "give her up" (I hate that phrase) so she could have a better life (I don't know if that's true or not).  I wanted to thank all the women who allowed their children to be adopted so they could have more opportunities than they could give them but it's just not that simple.  Adoption is crazy and messy and heartbreaking and dividing.  It's hard and painful for everyone involved.  

I have three adopted siblings and an adopted daughter.  Each of them has a different story.  Each of their birth mothers had different reasons, motivations, fears, and decisions regarding their children's future.  Some decided (for a variety of reasons) not to parent the child they gave life to.  Some had no choice.  While I don't know their hearts and don't know all of their reasons (I know less about Sara's birth mother's decision than my brothers'), I'm going to guess that none made the decision easily.  

It sounds so neat and easy.  "They gave up their child for adoption."  Never is it that easy.  It almost becomes flippant when talking about children with special needs.  "Their parents didn't want them because they had a disability."  Do we really think it's that simple?  Do we really think that their parents didn't want them?  That they didn't love them?  I can't believe that.  I won't believe it.  Believing it means I am passing judgement on thousands of women that I have never met.  Thousands of women who made a very hard decision for a multitude of reasons.  

I don't really know a lot about the culture of disability in Colombia and I don't know what motivated Sara's birth mother to make the decision that she did.  (I wouldn't share it here if I did!)  I do know that not so long ago in this country, parents were not encouraged to raise their children if they were born with disabilities.  They were only presented with one "solution"  You put your child in an institution and forgot about them.  Parents had to fight for the right to raise their own children.  It would not surprise me at all to find that this is currently going on in most parts of the world.  Parents are not given the option of raising their child with special needs.  They are TOLD to put them away and forget about them.  (As if you can just forget about your child.)  They don't know about the kind of conditions their child is living in because they are doing what they are told by doctors and professionals is best for their child and their families.  They didn't abandon their child because they have a disability.  They are following the directions of respected members of their society.  

Parts of the world are very superstitious.  I learned this first-hand when I lived in Mexico.   Anyone with a disability is seen as being cursed.  While a family may love their child deeply, choosing to raise that child could be detrimental to their family and to the child.  The family and child will be social outcasts.  Life could be very hard for siblings.  The parents may not be able to find work---after all, no one wants to associate with a cursed family.  People fear what they do not know.  Unfortunately for these children and families, fear can be dangerous.  It really may be the safest thing for these families to place their child and pretend they never existed.  At least pretend publicly.

There are countless other reasons a birth parent could choose not to raise their child:  poverty, lack of resources for a child with special needs, abusive relationships, fear, age, marital status, broken relationships, religious beliefs, societal expectations, and on and on and on.  I cannot even imagine having to make that decision.  I can't imagine making the choice to allow my child to be raised by someone else.  Or worse, making the decision to place them in an orphanage and hope that someone chooses to raise them!  I respect any woman who has made that choice--even if it was made out of ignorance and fear.  And while I may not respect the choices that a woman makes that lead her to have her child removed from her care, my heart goes out to any woman who is not raising a child she gave birth to.  It cannot be easy to wonder where your child is and how they are doing.  It has to be painful to hope that your child is being loved and cared for.  I can't imagine a scenario in which a birth mother doesn't think about their child regularly---especially on Mother's Day.

When I think of Sara's birth mother, it makes me sad.  I don't know her reasoning for signing over her rights to Sara.  I believe, though, that she is a kind, sensitive, caring woman with a spunky personality.  Those traits that I see in Sara are innate.  She was born with them.  I can't help but be sad that this woman doesn't get to know her wonderful daughter.  She doesn't get to wake up to that adorable face and those sweet kisses.  She doesn't get to see her learn new things almost every day.  She doesn't get to see her get excited over the littlest things.  But I do.  And for that, I will always be grateful.

Happy Birth Mother's Day!  I hope that you somehow know that your daughter is loved and cherished. 

Friday, May 2, 2014


Tonight was Family Fun Night at Sara's school.  We paid $1 and got way more food than we could eat, games, pony rides, face painting, and a bounce house.  I knew Sara would love it so I signed us up.

Then I started to dread it.  I knew exactly how it would go down.  Sara would spend the vast majority of the night in the bounce house and I'd be stuck standing outside with nothing to do and no one to talk to.  These are the types of events that make me really wish I had a husband.  But again, I knew Sara would love it so we went.

It went down pretty much exactly as I thought it would.  EXCEPT----

Sara's math teacher was running the bounce house.  We started chatting.  Her first questions were about adoption.  She was thrilled to realize that I had CHOSEN to adopt Sara KNOWING that she had Down syndrome.  She started telling me that:

*She's always kind of wanted a child with Down syndrome.
*She's never told anyone that because she thought it sounded crazy.
*She's always been drawn to her students with DS.
*Her students with DS have always been her favorites---except teachers don't have favorites.
*She didn't realize you could adopt a child with DS before she heard Sara's story.
*She has a lot of professional experience that would be valuable.
*She really feels like she has a lot to offer a child with DS.
*She really thinks she could do it.
*But, she's not married.

That is my EXACT story!  I wrote it out here when I was first considering adoption.

Things got busy after that so I told her that she should definitely consider it and that LOTS of kids with Down syndrome are looking for families.  Of course, I told her that she should check out Reece's Rainbow and contact me if she had anymore questions or wanted to chat.

I have never met this woman before tonight and probably wouldn't have if we hadn't gone.  She only has Sara for math so she doesn't come to the IEP meetings.  I'm rarely at Sara's school because of my work schedule.  It's very possible our paths would never have crossed.

It was very clear to me that she adores Sara and that Sara's story has touched her heart.  People always say that Sara is very lucky to have been adopted but I know that a lot of people have been blessed by Sara.  This little girl is capturing hearts every where she goes.  I'm the one that is blessed to be a part of her life.  

Some pictures of Family Fun Night:

Grandpa has taught us to always be early so we were waiting in the car for it to start.  

The first thing we found was the food.  

First Pony Ride.  It took her a little while to relax.  

Last time I took her for a pony ride, she waited for an hour and wouldn't get on.  This time she rode like a pro!