Courtney Rae arrived at my home, clutching a bag of toys and clothes. Her eyes darted around the room as she took in her new surroundings. Courtney Rae looked at her relinquishing foster mother, and then focused her eyes on me. Her new foster/pre-adoption mother. Standing firm, she angrily declared, “I hate you. You stink and this house stinks too!”
Our first night together was consumed with a little girl’s rage as Rae kicked the walls and screamed, “I don’t have any mama!” Exhausted and drenched in perspiration, she finally fell asleep. It was at this point that I approached her and began stroking her head and touching her fingers and toes, in awe. I fought back tears of sorrow as she, even in a deep sleep, clutched her jaw and tightened her face.
I feel like in the proverbial blink-of-an-eye, my “baby” went from a cuddly, cooing infant to a tweenager.
Though the earlier stages could be demanding—with the potty training and tantrums—I had experience. Throughout my teen years and young adult life, I’d been a babysitter, day care employee, children’s ministry leader, camp counselor, and nanny. Kids were my life.
I’d potty trained other people’s children. I had put bandages on boo boos and read bedtime stories. I’d watched a little girl learn to walk and a little boy lose his first tooth. I’d watched one child, and I’d watched multiple children, including a children with special needs.
Wow! What an incredible opportunity to connect with this community of fellow adoptive mamas and daddies, and those who are “potentials.” I’m honored and humbled to have been asked to contribute to a platform where so many others have given incredible advice, tips and encouragement.
I guess an introduction is in order, huh? My name is Charity, mom of two, one through birth in my womb, and the other through birth in my heart. That’s right, I’m a bio and adoptive mama to two very precious and very lively little girls. We live in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, close to Asheville, NC. We have lived here all of our lives. Ironically, my husband pastors a little country church in the heart of East Tennessee (yes, we drive 1.5 hrs to church on multiple times a week). We homestead—as novices who have no clue what we are doing— homeschool, run a small business (or three), craft, hike, and watercolor paint when there is free time.
Growing up my dream was always to become an actress. I loved the humorous aspects of the theatre and had the quirky acting personality of Amanda Bynes. The left-sided brain that I am, however, drew me towards a more practical career choice, and I ultimately decided to attend University to become a psychologist and make a great career for myself.
One day in my senior year of high school, however, I found myself reading the book Charla’s Children by Charla Pereau. It was an outdated and simple book that my aunt had gifted me about the life of a missionary who worked in an orphanage in Mexico and had adopted many of the children. Despite the insignificant appearance of this book, it changed my world. I knew, after reading that book, that I wanted to adopt children and somehow be involved with kids without families. Initially, I envisioned working in an orphanage just like Charla, though I wasn’t sure yet how I would get there.
It’s Spring Break 2019. I’m spending the first two days of the break in Los Angeles, touring universities with my High School Junior. I have to tell you that as excited as I am for my son, this is heart-wrenching for me, his mama.
Where did the time go? I mean, really, where did it go? It seems like yesterday when I was holding my guy in my arms and dreaming about all the precious years ahead of us. I know, I know—we still have more time in high school and—God willing—many more years as mother and son.
Yet, as I watched him walk around the UCLA campus, during our tour, I couldn’t help but choke back tears. It’s an emotional time for any mother. Certainly, it is for this one.
On this episode of The Greater Than Podcast, I speak with Adrian Collins. Adrian writes about the complexities of being a birth mother, biological mother, and adoptive mother—and she puts her experiences to work for children. She’s testified before the Colorado Senate Committee on behalf of the Colorado Children First Act. She’s also the Adoption and Pregnancy blog editor for Hope’s Promise, and is working on her first memoir. Adrian’s journey is one of love, faith, and everlasting hope.
Whether you’re connected to adoption or foster care, or not, what Adrian shares here about that “pedestal of perfection” can resonate with us all.
When I was younger, I dreamed of marrying my true love in a beautiful church with stained glass windows. I dreamed that I’d live in a white painted cottage-style home with a cherry-red door, and a giant tree swing would hang in the front yard where I’d push my two boys in denim overalls and two girls in matching dresses. My baby names were picked out. My maternity clothes were selected. Adoption, however, was never part of the plan.
Sometimes our most thought-out plans can be tailored to something greater than we ever anticipated. Over the years, I’ve learned to embrace adoption as a beautiful part of my life:
I am a birth mom of one college-age daughter.
I am a biological mom of three teen boys.
I am an adoptive mom of one adventurous ten-year-old son.
CPS stood on my doorstep at 11:00 pm, with a sleepy one year old boy. We have been anticipating his arrival since we got the call, early this afternoon.
He’s had a rough day. A day not many of us can even fathom. Since we received confirmation he was coming, I have been eager to comfort him.
I look at him and I know, “This is going to wreck me.”
I scoop him from the social worker. Holding his innocence in my arms—losing a bit of my own. Committing to carrying the weight of his world, the good and the bad. Preparing to hear his story. Ready to give him all we have…
When you’ve been touched by adoption, you appreciate certain things that most people take for granted. For one, you realize the magnitude of being able to have a child that someone else gave birth to. Some people that go into adoption can’t have children and becoming a parent in this way brings so much clarity and appreciation. Little things get celebrated and seemingly meaningless dates become a big deal.
Over the past three years, my husband, Ian, and I have been on a journey filled with consistent optimism, but also staggered by heartbreak. Long days of hard work and faith were often followed by tears and doubt. We had amazing support from family and friends. We were also lied to and cruelly manipulated. Through these three years, Ian and I have walked through fire together. We lost nearly all semblances of personal space and privacy; we worked through hundreds of pages of paperwork and legal pulp; we drove thousands of miles, spent thousands of dollars, all for the chance at turning hope into reality. It was in the middle of nowhere, on a hot June night, where we finally found our seven-pound miracle. I am writing this story, not for pity or to commiserate, but to expound on and rejoice in the one thing that kept us going throughout all our setbacks: hope.