By Madeleine Melcher
Disclaimer: I am but one person with my own experience. Adoptees are human beings, so of course our feelings and experiences vary from black to white to every shade of gray. I cannot and do not speak for everyone, but will always stand up for everyone to have a chance to speak.
Dear (hopeful) parents,
I had planned to write on a totally different adoption topic for this blog, but as it often does, life intervened. The elderly mother of a family friend passed away this weekend and this morning I attended the visitation. As I walked up the aisle of the church towards our friend who just lost her mother I wondered what I could say. Everything said when someone loses a loved one is said with the best of intentions but nothing is ever really the right thing, is it?
As I finished hugging our friend and looked into her puffy, sorrow-filled eyes, my own eyes filled with tears, “I have been thinking about you since the weekend,” I said. “You know, my mom died when I was in my twenties and I thought and still do, that whether she had died when I was 29 or 99 it would have been too soon.”
It is true. My sweet mom could have died one minute before me and it would have been the longest minute of my life but I did not get to have her that long. I did not get to see my mom be a grandmother or to see her hair turn gray or get to hear her tell my children stories about me when I was a little girl. My mom dying was my worst childhood nightmare come true. She was my rock. Always there. She was the one that made my favorite dinner on my birthday and the one who raved to anyone who would listen what a beautiful singing voice I had. She was the one that fussed at me about grades she thought should be better but who also commiserated that she wasn’t great at math either and got me a tutor. She loved me through boyfriends that sometimes came first and then helped me pick up the pieces when things weren’t meant to be. My mom left messages for me at times I was too busy to call, sent me care packages when I moved away for my first job and always asked if I was eating healthy. She loved me when I was at my worst- no question.
She loved me unconditionally and with everything in her.
And I loved her the same. The fact that we shared not a drip of the same blood or DNA, did not define us, nor did it lessen us.
When people have asked me if I knew my “real mom”- well of course the answer is “yes”. It does not get much more real than parenting every day. Loving through the good, the bad and the ugly and asking nothing in return. THAT is love. She WAS enough- she was my any and everything. Isn’t that what we all hope to be as parents?
I want you to remember- a child wanting to know their story does not take from their love for you or how real you are as a parent. A child who wants to meet or have a relationship with a birth family member does not take from their love for you. You may have welcomed a child who is dealing with the after effects of drug or alcohol exposure before birth or who has a sensory disorder or something else and you feel lost- that does not take from your role as parent or the love you share with your child.
My sweet momma loved me unconditionally from the first second we met when I left my foster family to join my forever family until the day she died–and I still feel her love. She loved me in my best moments and my worst. You see, REAL does not require shared DNA, REAL can happen even if you did not get to spend your child’s first hours, days, months or years with them. REAL families do not have to look exactly alike; REAL parents do whatever their child needs (whether it is related to adoption or not) and REAL love does not require anything in return.
Listen to your child. Love your child. You are doing the hardest, easiest, messiest, most important, perplexing and wonderful job there is – embrace it with all you have.
Let me leave you with a closing thought- If I could go back and have the choice of my mother or one I would be able to spend another 40 years with; I would choose mine every time. Why? Because she was, is and ever will be MY mom. Remember this next time you wonder if you are enough.
P.S. The day after Thanksgiving is the day I joined my forever family and today and every day I am thankful for that.
#love #adoption #family #BeTheParent #DearParents #NationalAdoptionMonth
Madeleine Melcher is an adoptee who spent a brief time in foster care
before finding her forever home as a toddler. She is the author of DEAR
ADOPTIVE PARENTS, an important book for parents who have adopted or hope to, as well as, HOW TO CREATE A SUCCESSFUL ADOPTION PORTFOLIO; and co-author of ENCOURAGMENT FOR THE ADOPTION AND PARENTING JOURNEY: 52 Devotions and a Journal. She has written for a number of on-line publications including the Huffington Post where one of her adoption pieces has been LIKED by over 108-THOUSAND people. You can find Madeleine’s blog at www.ourjourneytoyouadoption.com