Friday, May 10, 2013

Loving Someone Else's Child -- by Wendy Blackwell

Perhaps it was in the emptiness that I learned to cherish the fullness of motherhood.

When I chose adoption for my daughters (15 months apart) I chose a better life for them, a stable family, provision, and all the things I couldn’t provide. I carried them, held them, loved them and gave them away.

And for several years I lived in that empty place. A place where I wasn’t a mother, but I was all consumed by a love for someone else’s children. There’s no book, or class, or program that can teach you to live through the grief of choosing to let go of your children. But, like all of our empty places God will fill them with Himself and allow us a glimpse of grace that defies words.

For years I hated Mother’s Day. A day to celebrate women who could be what I couldn’t. A day to celebrate all I had chosen to give away.

I didn’t dare to dream of being a wife or mother. Somehow I thought I didn’t deserve it or I’d given up my shot. But God had different plans for me, thankfully, and allowed me to begin living dreams I didn’t dare to dream.

Marriage to my hunky hubby brought two beautiful peanuts that we have the incredibly humbling blessing of parenting. From their very first moments I clung to each breath…to each first…to each new thing. Shifting from years of loving someone else’s child to parenting our children was huge…and it began to heal something in me.

And I began to understand the mothers of the daughters I had relinquished. They guarded those girls’ hearts with a lioness’s tenacity and yet were tendered in touch and deed. Sometimes during those wee hour feedings I would rock our oldest daughter in her lavender decorated dreamy nursery and cry over the realizations of all I missed by choosing adoption. You just don’t get it until you live it.

And time, as it does, marched on. Deep in homeschool routines, ministry, laundry and life I found the rhythm of motherhood. Living deep in the security of understanding God has a plan for my children and the overwhelming blessing of being His arms and legs in their lives.

 Mother’s day doesn’t hold a sting anymore, neither does Birthmother’s day (the day before Mother’s day), because God in His plan saw fit to begin to fill in those holes in my heart.

Technology has allowed for communication to open up further between “my girls” and I. As they discover who they are and navigate the difficult teen years with their families I have been allowed to share a bit in their lives. It is exciting and humbling and new and old. When my phone buzzes with a text or facebook pings with a message, I want to go back in time to that young woman wrecking her life under the weight of grief and pain and whisper….God’s got a plan…you’ll know your girls, you’ll be a mama.

There is an empty bedroom in our house today. The furniture in the room makes it feel less empty, but there is no life lived there yet. Here I sit in the midst of emptiness again, and I know that like all of our empty places God will fill this one up too. In the middle of our paperwork pregnancy we wait to be approved to love another child…to parent another child. Foster (care) family and adoption will soon be words that describe our home…our family.

It is an odd feeling to love a child you’ve never met. To anticipate their arrival, pray for their safety and their some days, and to love somebody else’s child. And it is a process that makes me keenly aware that birthmother, adoptive mother, foster mother, spiritual mother, mother-in-law, grandmother…mother…we are all loving somebody else’s child. God gives us these breaths of eternity to love for Him. They are His children and He allows us the pleasure and privilege of wiping noses, bandaging cuts, washing uniforms, driving carpool, making lunches, kissing, teaching, disciplining and loving.

Time, life, trauma, illness, death and more will take our children from our presence. We might share blood ties with some, or legal paperwork with others, or not. God builds families in a million amazing, different ways and His family is eternal.

And motherhood is eternal work.

Do you get that, mama? That even searching for lost binkies, tackling mountains of laundry, driving carpool, checking homework, and all the everyday stuff you do builds God’s kingdom! It is easy for us to believe that lie that we are just mothers…that it is thankless work that doesn’t really matter and no one notices. But God sees every detail. You aren’t just anything to Him. You are a royal woman who searches for treasure, climbs mountains, transports precious cargo, pours foundations, fights enemies, protects, and acts as His arms and legs to His children.

In the years of emptiness I longed for the fullness of motherhood. And, now, I’m ashamed to admit I take the fullness for granted – I see dirty laundry, a massive to do list and I feel tired. I lose sight of the honor of motherhood, but on Mother’s Day now I’m reminded. I no longer hide in my bed or go hiking alone. I revel in crayon covered, glue laden love and little bouquets of dandelion heads, and I thank God for every overwhelming, grace-filled moment.

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