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.
I relinquished my daughter for adoption when she was born. When I was a junior in college, a set of skinny pink lines appeared on a pregnancy test and I wilted onto the bathroom floor. I’d always dreamed of being a mom one day. Just not yet. I was in a committed relationship but there were no plans for marriage. I didn’t have a steady income. I had no way of providing the kind of life I felt my baby deserved. After months of agonizing over my choices, I made the heart wrenching decision to make an semi-closed adoption plan. During my final months of pregnancy, I created a memory book for my daughter. I wanted her to know about her birth parents and why we made an adoption plan for her. Inside the book were photos of my childhood, my interests, accomplishments and a handwritten letter. When my child asked her adoptive parents one day, “Why did my mom give me away?” I wanted her to read my words.
At the hospital, I held my newborn and caressed her tiny hand as time dwindled away. When the adoptive couple arrived and I had to say goodbye, I whispered into my daughter’s ear, “I will always love you.” Then, I pulled the memory book from my bag and tucked it beside my daughter as the social worker carried her away. My cries echoed loud in the hospital corridor as I left without my daughter. I held onto hope that I would see her again one day, when the timing was right.
Hundreds of seasons would come and go after I’d said goodbye to my daughter. As the years passed, my home filled to the brim with children. I’d married my high school sweet heart and birth father to my daughter, and given birth to three boys. Then, I began volunteering as a mentor to birth moms. I wanted to offer support; answering questions and offering insight as they navigated the adoption process. One of the birth moms I mentored was a family friend who had encountered an unexpected pregnancy. During one meeting, she turned to me and asked softly, “Will you adopt my baby boy?”
I broke into a smile and immediately said, “Yes!” My husband and I both wanted to expand our family and were nervously delighted to take on the role of adoptive parents. At first, I felt confident I could handle all the responsibilities that came with adoption since I’d made an adoption plan for my daughter years earlier. I understood the hopes and dreams a birth mother has for her child. More than anything, I wanted to honor our son’s birth mom’s sacrifice by being the the most loving mom that I could.
At the hospital, when his birth mother placed her son into my arms, I stared at him with both awe and wonder. But then questions of doubt began. Will I love him the same as my other children? Do I have enough love for everyone? I prayed that God would give me the love I needed for each of my children. Before leaving the hospital, we held an adoption entrustment ceremony where I read a poem I’d written for the occasion and my son’s birth mom handed us an adorable stuffed monkey she’d bought as a baby gift and said, “Something for him to remember me by.”
We brought our son home and showered him with abundant love. I nurtured each of my boys with utmost care, playing tag during the day and reading superhero books at bedtime. While I reveled in motherhood, my thoughts often wandered to my daughter.
A few weeks after adopting my son, the phone rang. It was my twelve-year-old daughter. After all these years, she hadn’t forgotten about me. When she asked if she could meet me in person, my heart erupted in joyous celebration. On the day of her arrival, I waited with anticipation to meet my daughter and hold her in my arms. When a car pulled up in our driveway and a petite girl with long flowing blond hair and light blue eyes stepped outside, I marveled at her loveliness. Then, I ran to her and held her close. “I love you,” I told her. She looked into my eyes and smiled.
Today, my daughter is a college student and thriving in a new season of life. We cherish our time together and find ways to celebrate new milestones. My son continues to have a beautiful relationship with his birth mom. We get together at parks and restaurants where they laugh and share stories with one another. Recently, my son’s birth mom gave birth to a precious baby girl and my son is enjoying his new role as “big brother” to his half-sister.
I’ve spent time in reflection about my decision to make an adoption plan. Did everything turn out as planned? Not always. Sometimes we have to take steps of faith without seeing the whole picture. We can only do what we think is best at a particular time in life. I can’t dwell on the “What ifs.” I can only embrace the journey and discover how I was changed because of it. I grew in strength, perseverance, confidence and courage that led me to an unexpected and beautiful reunion with my daughter. I’ve given myself an extra measure of grace when things didn’t turn out as planned. I learned there are new mercies each morning. I’ve watched beauty come from ashes.
Adrian Collins writes about the real-life complexities of being both a birth mother and an adoptive mother. She has testified before the Colorado Senate committee on behalf of the Colorado Children First Act, interviewed for Phil Darke’s Think Orphan podcast and featured on Today Show Parents and Today.com. She has been published in Today Show Parents, Grown and Flown, The Daily Signal, The Hill, CBN News, Christian Post, Her View From Home and BLUNTmoms, and is the adoption blog manager for Hope’s Promise, a faith-based adoption agency. Adrian completed her first memoir about hope and healing through the journey of adoption.