Friday, September 7, 2012
Years ago I would tell my mom about my friend Ashley and her journey to adopt a little Serbian girl named Olive. Olive the tiny... Olive the beautiful.
My mom would ask about her... wondering how she was doing. She would ask how she was adjusting to life in a family... with people who love her.
Later I would tell my mom about Faith. I would talk to her about Faith's journey to adopt Robyn and then her decision to adopt Etta. I would tell her about all of the other mothers I was meeting online.... about the lives of these children without families.
During this time my Mom would ask "Why do these people spend money they don't have to adopt from over there when there are children here at home that could be adopted for so much less? If they want another child, why not get one here?". Like many of you, she didn't understand why they spent so much money and travelled so far. She didn't understand why they did things "the hard way".
My mom would hear countless stories about Susanna and her mission to save little Katie... and how close she came to losing her before she ever came home. Katie-bird was so fragile when Susanna travelled to her country to bring her home that she had to spend time in the hospital... and then have a nurse travel with them on their journey home so that Katie could survive the trip home to a larger hospital. It was frightening... and inspiring. Mom loved to hear Katie's story and to know that she was healing. That she was cherished and loved.
In hearing Katie's story and following it, my Mom finally learned those people did things "the hard way". She no longer criticised or thought "they're crazy/stupid/idiotic" for adopting sick children who lived half way across the world... children who weren't healthy and would need a lifetime of care. She understood.
The day I told her that Jason and I were committing to adopt Christiana and told her all of the issues that we knew of and some that we only suspect... I expected to hear "adopt one at home", "you already have one disabled child, you don't need another", "how will you pay for it", "you can't handle it". I expected her to disapprove. I expected her to have the same attitude that others around me had - that it's fine and noble for people to adopt sick/disabled children, but it's not something "we" (family and friends) want to have in our own homes.
I underestimated my mother. Not only was she not critical of our decision, she and RaRa (grandma Rita) became our biggest supporters. She shared our story at church and with everyone she knew. She and Daddy put Christiana's photograph in their living room for everyone to see. They told everyone about their newest grandchild-to-be, the little girl across the sea. Even her hospice nurse knows all about Christiana and our adoption journey. Her name is Crystal and she may be beginning the same journey soon.
My mother passed away on Wednesday evening and I don't know how to live without her.
Since my oldest son James was born (and Mom retired), we've spent almost every day of our lives together. And when we couldn't see each other due to illness or life interrupting... we spoke on the phone. She has been my best friend for the last 7 years. She's been the person I turned to first after my husband who is the other half of my heart and soul. She's been my cheerleader, my rock, my inspiration. She taught me how to raise my children and that it's OK to be less than perfect. She taught me how to love unconditionally... to give without expecting anything in return because the greatest reward isn't in the receiving, it's in the giving. It's in seeing a face light up with joy.
I walk though life thinking things like "Mom would love those earrings" and "I should tell Mom about that". But I can't. I can't buy her pretty things anymore or share the latest news. I have a loving husband, and loving Rita, and 3 beautiful. loving sons. But I feel alone in a crowd. No one will ever understand me (and misunderstand me) the way my Mom did.
I've learned one thing from my Mom's death. I've learned the last lesson she had to teach me - that no matter how old you are, your mother is the center of your heart. I've learned how very much my children must love and need me.
I've learned how vital a mother is to a child.
Soon... we will have travel dates. We will have permission to meet our daughter across the sea. Knowing how much she must need me, even if she doesn't know it, yet breaks my heart.
Please... please help us get to her. Help me give my daughter what my Mom gave me. Love. Unconditional and eternal love. Help me hold her and teach her a mother's love for her child.