Reflecting on my life over the last 6 years, some major events have taken place—four houses, three dogs, two children, and complete career changes for me and my husband. There is another significant event that also occurred, yet it is not visible or tangible like the others: a thought shift in how I view open adoptions.
When we began the adoption process almost 7 years ago, I wanted this clear-cut, simple, closed adoption. I longed to be matched with a birth mother who would have a baby, hand him or her over to me sweetly swaddled, and walk out of the hospital without wanting any further contact.I thought that would be the ideal adoption. It would be mess-free, drama-free, and easy to navigate. It would just be our little family of three.
It’s 4 am and I can’t sleep. Tomorrow, our family will go back on the list. Tomorrow, or a day soon after, I will become a mom to a child that I’ve never met. I’ve been here before, tossing and turning, listing in my mind all the things I would be doing to prepare my home for a child if I had the luxury of knowing their age, gender, clothing size, favorite breakfast food…I’ve spent sleepless nights like this before every new placement.
I remember sitting on the couch crying and feeling utterly defeated. I mean I just wanted my kids to wear those cute matching dresses to church. How did I get here? Not on the couch crying over my spoiled efforts, I mean clearly a dress or two doused in Arby’s sauce may not be salvageable. It was more than that, in that moment. I was just plain exhausted. Just over one solid year ago, I was sitting on the same couch in a different house crying over yet another pregnancy lost. No one could tell me why I lost every baby. They did not have to sit in the silence of my childless home. I just wanted to be a mom. Family is very important to me.
Often, in international adoption, the timing is the biggest misconception adoptive parents are led to believe. I think most countries have good intention for matching a child with prospective parents, and maybe they even have good intentions on making an adoption happen in a relatively timely fashion. However, if you are looking into international adoption and you are wanting to grow your family within months or even a year, stop now, turn around and look the other way. International adoption may not be right for you at this time. I’m not saying you should turn your back on the possibility completely, just make sure you rethink your expectations before pursuing it.
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.
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.