Looking back over our adoption journey, one tangible item characterizes most of it: paper.
Pages upon pages of applications.
Personal references from friends and pastors.
Printouts of PowerPoint presentations during orientation and training.
Notes about the process of adoption and financing adoption and caring for children post-adoption.
Flyers for our huge yard sale.
Books about adoption and orphan care.
Check after check that we deposited because of the generosity of others and the perfect provision of the Father.
Cards from friends encouraging us along the way.
So many thank you notes (I’m still working on those!) for so many different reasons.
Our profile book introducing us to expectant mothers.
Noting promises and the character of God in the margins of my Bible.
Setting up baby registries when we were matched!
Coloring pages in the hospital room with Asher’s birth mama.
Discharge papers before we could take Asher home from the hospital.
Reheating instructions on meals provided by sweet friends and family after Asher was born.
Finalization paperwork at the courthouse on Asher’s Gotcha Day.
Photos for Asher’s birth family.
A Mother’s Day card for the woman who loved him first.
After finalizing, I was anticipating one more piece of paper that I thought would change how I felt somehow. I thought I would feel more complete as a family. I thought it would give me closure.
Asher’s birth certificate.
When an adoption is finalized, the child is given a new birth certificate. His/her new name is typed neatly, with the date of birth, location of birth, and names of the adoptive parents* below. If you were to simply look at the birth certificate without knowing the whole story, you would never know an adoption had taken place. When you look at Asher’s birth certificate, it looks as though I gave birth to him.
The long anticipated day arrived, and Asher’s new birth certificate was delivered in the mail. Joseph handed it to me, I looked it over, paused briefly for a moment of reflection, heard Asher cry, and set his birth certificate aside to comfort him. The moment was over, and it wasn’t anything like I anticipated.
I think part of me assumed seeing my name on his birth certificate would give me this swelling feeling of being his mother, like really, for reals his mom. The thing is, I already was. I didn’t need a piece of paper to confirm that.
The moment we received the news that we were matched, I loved him as my son. The second the doctor held Asher in the air in the delivery room and I laid eyes on him, I was wrecked, completely smitten with him. When he stopped crying as I placed my hand on his chest, I was bonded to him. There was no turning back. He was and is my son. I was and am his mama.
I’m his mama when he smiles like me or when he sighs like me or when he raises his eyebrows like me. I’m his mama when I’m feeding him or changing dirty diapers. I’m his mama when he snuggles in close and when he would rather make us laugh than go to sleep. When he stares intently at my face trying to learn how to whistle or sound out a word. When he coughs in a restaurant and everyone turns and stares at me, wondering why I’m not helping him (it’s because he isn’t actually choking). When he learns something new, like how to move his bouncy seat across the room by jumping fast enough. When I soothe him and dry his tears at the doctor’s office. When I wash a hundred tiny pieces of clothing and put them on tiny hangers. When I cheer him on one more time as he pulls the chain to turn the light on in the living room. When I sing lullabies and he laughs or sings along or conducts the music. When I drop him off at the church nursery and tell them there’s a bottle in his diaper bag, just in case. And there’s a change of clothes, just in case. And my phone number is on his sticker, just in case.
When my eyes get all puddly because he is so beautiful. When I’m so tired and I desperately want him to sleep without me, but I also want to cuddle him for just five more minutes. When I run my fingers through his soft curls and imagine what he’ll look like as a teenager. When his chubby hand wraps around my finger.
When I’m “that mom” who wants to enroll her infant in voice lessons because he has perfect pitch. When I’m “that mom” who can’t stop talking about her baby and bragging about every little milestone. When I’m “that mom” who posts a million pictures, knowing people probably find it annoying on social media.
When I pray for him. When I hope for him. When I dream for him.
I’m his mama in a handful of big ways and a million different little ways. He is one of God’s greatest gifts to me, and he will forever be a part of me.
I didn’t need a piece of paper to tell me that.
*I’m using “adoptive parents” for the sake of clarity. Adoptive parents are simply parents, real ones. :O)