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.
Home. Family. Belonging. Love.
These are words that have often had both simple and confusing definitions for me.
We are taught about love throughout our lives and these lessons begin before we are born. We learn what love is through the demonstration of it in our lives. We learn too through any spaces or places that lack it. Our sensitive and wondrous bodies and brains remember this. We are established with a foundation and framework for how we see the world based on what the world shows us.
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…
I was a small girl when my mother told me I was adopted. Though I was too young to remember her exact words, I will never forget my feelings. I felt sorry for my friends who weren’t adopted. My mother had just told me what, by the age of seven, I had already felt; that my parents loved me unconditionally and that they had ached with longing for a child.
When I grew old enough to understand my birthmother’s role, I realized that I had been doubly blessed. A girl who couldn’t raise me had loved me enough to give me to someone who could. This selfless person knew that motherhood is more than playing house and that her ultimate responsibility was ensuring the best for the baby she had brought into the world.
My Adoption Story
“Not flesh of my flesh, nor bone of my bone, but still miraculously my own. Never forget for a single minute, you didn’t grow under my heart, but in it.” —Fleur Conkling Heyliger
March 24th will always be one of the most important days of my life. On this day, almost 29 years ago, I flew from Seoul, Korea, to Michigan to meet my forever family.
As an adult, I know that many stories begin like this. However, as a child, I never thought about what adoption really meant. I’m not quite sure my schoolmates knew either. My classmates just knew me as the girl who always shared cookies, cake, or cupcakes and celebrated her adoption every March 24th. Each year, my mom or dad helped educate my friends and classroom about my “Plane Day.” We would even bring in little folded handouts to give to everyone.
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.