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Thursday, 24 March 2011

The Knower of Hearts


Since we began our first adoption process, the initial reactions we have been met with, both those we love and those of strangers, have been wildly varied.

Everything from simple curiosity to genuine joy and happiness on our behalf to tentative, resigned acceptance to actual menacing and hostile harassment which I wrote about here for those of you who'd like to read something really crazy: strangers-on-plane.

When it comes to adoption, people want you to explain yourself. Some people want you to excuse yourself. To fall all over yourself saying you're sorry. Some people want to exult your decision to adopt into something almost saintly. Some people are genuinely happy and some are suspicious. Some, obviously insecure people, want to make sure you know that your choice to adopt is inferior to having biological children and some make subtle references to their idea that you will never be a real mother or father. Then again, some say you are even more of a mother or father for how hard you have fought for this child.

My point is, depending on who you talk to, it all varies. There are as many opinions on adoption as there are people. :)

I've been told I've had it so easy. "Imagine just hopping on a plane to a tropical country for a few weeks and coming home with a sweet baby! You sure chose the easy option!" and my mind wandered back through all the months of heartbreak, darkness, self-loathing, not leaving the house, all the prayers that felt like they were wrenched out of my gut, all the despair and thoughts of death, (that by this stage were healed by the joy of our little son in Sri Lanka whose picture I held clutched in my hand), and blinked and ignored the sharp, quick pain in my heart and smiled while my mind reeled from it all being dismissed so blithely. I wasn't offended. It just helped me realize that if you're counting on understanding from people, you are bound to be occasionally disappointed.

After all, who in the world understands adoption? Not a one, I imagine. Not the adoptive parents, not the biological mother, not the people in positions of power who decide a child's fate, no one.

Adoption is beyond comprehension. It has it's good sides and its bad. It has its stories of success and failure. It uproots a child and gives them new roots. Sometimes deep and secure ones. It binds and severs. It causes confusion. Heartbreak. Joy.

I think of this sometimes, maybe especially as we begin the process again. Also because I read a book a while back that said something to the effect of no one is able to understand a mother's love except a mother. A real mother. Not a step-mother or any other sort of mother. But a woman who has actually given birth.

I read that and while again, wasn't really offended as we are all entitled to our opinions, however stupid they may be, it reinforced my own belief that giving birth doesn't always make a mother. There are women who give birth who are incapable of loving a child, who abuse children, etc. Blood ties can certainly bind but they don't always. As for who is a "real" mother, I don't really think anyone can judge that.

As for me, I don't struggle with this question. I don't doubt I am a real mother. I am. No ones opinion can change that.

So as we embark on this second adoption, I think I will choose to remember that people can think whatever they like. When I want understanding, I'll take it to God. He understands what I can not.


Judi said...

You moved me beyond words this morning Colleen. I love you! So very well said...I have given birth and also believe giving birth does not, by any stretch of the imagination make you a mother. Love makes you a mother..and you have more then alot of women I know. I think I am feeling all the pain you suffer because of people's ignorance...You truly are an inspiration...and, once again, you should have all these adoption writngs published, on would move and inspire so very many more people! Kisses and hugs...Momma -

Anonymous said...

A great post Colleen, I agree with all that Judi has said.

I am surprised by some of the hostile reactions to you adopting! Surprised? No I really meant appalled.

I will be following your story with keen interest.

Joyful said...

I'm not sure, is this your little boy when he was younger or the new little one you are waiting for? Whatever the case, he is so sweet :-) Wishing you well as you wait.

Unknown said...

I am so glad you are William's mother. And I am SO glad you are going to adopt again. Adoption is beautiful.

kate said...

Love your post,daughter dearest! Who understands adoptions? The One who orchestrates them, I think. God understands them. He plans them in advance, for the childs benefit and for ours, so that we will all grow richer in spirit and in truth and in love. Look at Moses. Where would he have ended up without that lovely Egyptian princess?
And giving birth does NOT make a mother. You have only to think of one of your grandmothers. Giving birth, I think, is a process that Can lead to motherhood..... or it might not.
You are most definitely a mother! Love your mom!

Mariannes blogg said...

Atter engang helt nydelig skrevet, og noe jeg helt sikkert må sitere deg på!
Ha en flott dag:)))

Colleen said...

Judi, thank you so much for your supportive and kind words! I just love you too.:) Your words really touch my heart and mean a lot to me. xx

Jane, thank you very much and thank you for the email as well (I will reply this evening:). I also have been surprised in the past but now just take it as it comes.:)

Joyful, that picture is of our first adoption in 2009 in Sri Lanka.:) Thank you for the good wishes.

Becky, your words are lovely and appreciated. God bless.

Mom, I do agree that God is the one who understands them, the only one but that is assurance in itself.:) I love what you said about giving birth can lead to mootherhood but doesn't always, that's very true. Love you!

Marianne, tusen takk. Jeg altid setter pris på hva du skriver til meg. ha en flott dag du og.:)

Brian Miller said...

i agree...there are those that have children tha never should and those that cant that brreak my heart because they cant...if someone wants to love and care for kids i say let them...

Karen Kyle Ericson said...

Oh Colleen you are so right. I have to agree, there's been many times I've been hurt by what people say. But it's only God that truly understands. He brings two people together like this because He sees it as a match made in Heaven. God bless!

Rathi said...

Colleen, this post means so much to me. Ever since I was in high school, I knew that I wanted to adopt and be a single mother... this dream of mine has continued to motivate me even in the worst of times and it has been a salient feature of my existence. I know that not everyone can understand and everyone is entitled to their own opinions. It is difficult to understand this relationship that develops between two unknown souls barring all differences. I do not understand why people expect me to explain why I want to adopt. {I don't see people asking "why do you want to get pregnant and be a mother?"} I don't have an answer. I just want to adopt. It is as simple as that. Thank you for writing this. I need to learn so many things. xoxo

Lori said...

As a mom that has birthed and adopted and is now raising children that I didn't give birth to but are very much like my very own children, this post touches me deeply. Giving birth does not make someone a mother just as sperm doesn't make a father.

I think of the heart ache that my loved one's have gone through in not being able to concieve a child. I think of the many children that have no home or are without someone to call mommy. And it makes perfect sense to me that those that have a mother or father heart but empty arms and those children that ache to be in the safe loving arms of people that love them should be together.

For anyone to say you have had it easy in adopting is quite ignorant. It truly does amaze me the things that come out of our mouths when we are ignorant to the truth....and even when we know the truth when is it our place to speak it? It is hard for me to comprehend those that act in such a hostile way towards anyone let alone towards those that adopt.

In my own situation of raising the little's as my own...being "mommy" to them is a blessed role that I feel that God orchastrated...many will never understand the heart ache we have been through and continue to go through...and they will never know the blessings and joy we have experienced either. While we do have many that support us, there are still those that want an explantation for how they came to be with us...they want us to explain so that they can accept or understand why we are parenting them. Why can't people just accept and just support us?

When their sweet little faces look at me or when their little voices express how much they love me, I cannot imagine my life of not doing "this".

God really is in control and really does understand where many others may not. I am sure it breaks his heart when we treat one another in a less then kind way.

How blessed I feel to visit you here today and read your thoughts. You have a huge mommy heart and you are no less a mommy to William then I am to my children that came from my body. I am so excited about this little one that will blessed to have a mommy and daddy that already love them...bless you Colleen and your husband and William as you wait for this little one to join your family...and of course for this little one that will join your family and for the one that loves him or her enough to let them go to your family. Bless each one of you.

I've missed and hugs to you. XX

Karen Kyle Ericson said...

I also wanted to add my thanks for your mentioning the harassment. All around we hear it doesn't happen, but it does and no one should feel ashamed for experiencing it. The shame is on the harasser entirely.

Anonymous said...

For those who do not think that you become a 'real' parent through adoption, do they think the fact that we are 'adopted' in Christ through baptism makes his love for us inferior? Was St. Joseph somewhat of an inferior 'father' to Jesus than biological fathers are to their parents. I would imagine his fatherhood was far superior to what most fathers, adopted or biological, are able to achieve (and that is no slur on other fathers!. God does not belittle adoption, so why should people do so?

Now, I am sure that there are people who adopt from faulty motives or proceed on a faulty basis. Just like I am sure there are some who have children who fail in their motives, their priorities and their love. As you say, it really all depends on the people involved.

We cannot read people's hearts, but it is definitely something we need to be reminded of from time to time in all manner of circumstances. Thanks for another thoughtful post and reminder.

Leia said...

I'm wishing you luck with your second adoption!


Unknown said...

Colleen, one of the silliest things I've ever read, that no one can understand a mother except someone who has biologically had a child. WOW! There are so many women who have given birth and had not a maternal instinct in their body. Then there are others who never gave birth and their whole being is to mother. I've said for some time now, if you're a woman over the age of 20 (and some younger), you've mothered someone. That's what we do! God bless you in this next adoption! Hugs! ~Serene

Shell said...

Of course you are a real mother! And I hate that you encountered people with such outrageus opinions on something that really doesn't concern them.

Colleen said...

Brian, you are so right.

Karen, I can see this is something we really see eye to eye on. So many times I have had to remind myself that it is my pride that gets hurt. People are going to misunderstand but God never does. He is the one I need to focus on when I want that unconditional understanding. And the way he brings families and hearts together is so beautiful. Thank you for your comment.

Ratz, I really appreciate your response to my post. We all have so much to learn, don't we?:) I wish you so much luck in your dream of adopting. I think it is a noble and courageous dream and yes perhaps difficult for some people to understand but when you describe how it has always been a hope of yours and a part of you, I think it shows how big and generous a heart you really have.

Lori, thank you so much for your thoughtful comment and the understanding you show through it. I miss you too and you are on my mind often. i pray you aren't in too much pain these days but I fear you are. You have so many valid points...I think that your life is an inspiration and the way you raise your little is such a selfless and beautiful and tough thing. It's hard for me too to understand how we can be so unkind to each other when most of us are doing the best we can. Thank you so much for visiting me today. It brightens my day!

Karen, you're welcome. Funny how true your words are. I honestly did feel ashamed after that was all over. Embarrassed that everybody had seen us shamed so to speak. It was very humbling. But I too realize, we were not the ones who came off looking bad there. She was. Anyway, yes, we need to work on not being ashamed when such things happen for sure. Thanks for your support. I really appreciate it.

Colleen said...

Kirsten, thank you for your insightful comment. I always appreciate your words because they put it into a perspective that I also believe and very easily relate to. Your first paragraph is perfect. Yet how many of us really realize that we have been adopted by Christ? Or think about St. Joseph being an adoptive father? I tell you though, when we do, it sure is a powerful thought! Thank you for your comment!

Leia, thank you so much!

Serene, I couldn't agree more. As women we all give birth, it's what we do as you said.:) What women have been doing for centuries, since time began.:) Thank you for your great comment my friend!

Shell, I love what you wrote. They are just outrageous opinions, aren't they?:)

Joyful said...

Thanks for letting me know Colleen and thanks too for visiting my blog. I hope your Spring is around the corner. It seems like a long winter everywhere this year. But it could be worse so I'm not complaining too loudly ;-)

Karen said...

Oh, dear Collen, don't let anyone steal your joy in motherhood! Sounds like you do have a handle on that. Just let your little guy-and any other precious kiddos God brings to you-see that you love him and his Daddy. I love Judi's idea of publishing your thoughts for others. I'm certain they would be blessed.
Thank you for sharing this post and for your visit to me.

Deborah said...

Colleen, I only know you through the blogosphere but even here I can tell that you are a sweet, kind, compassionate person. All the qualities that the best mothers possess. It breaks my heart that people could be so cruel. I always try to remember that meanness says so much more about the person who is mean. And I try to think of what happened to them in their life that brought them to a place of such pain and bitterness that they can't see how hurtful they are to others.
Not excusing it for sure, but if I try to show compassion even when I am hurt, ultimately I grow into a better person.
Having said that...What are some of these people thinking!! It makes me so angry!

I love your last line, taking to God what you don't understand, He understands what I cannot. That my just be my new mantra. Thanks for sharing your joys and pains so openly and honestly. We, your followers, think you are an incredible person, so think of us when others let you down!!

Mari said...

Great post from your heart! You are Williams Mother and I'm so happy you are adopting again. Adoption is a blessing to so many. The child, the parents and the extended family (I have 3 nieces who are adopted).
Anyway - I agree with Judi. You could write a book!

Jenn Jantz said...

your words touched me. I have always dreamed of adopting... even IF I can have 'my own'. I want both. I told some of my inlaws that dream one time. and they thought I was NUTS. dumb. I was really hurt. and ya..said stuff I shouldn't. I really get scared when I think of adopting becuase what if my husbands family doesn't love them, or if they do end up a little 'different' then normal American kids, that they'll look at me and say 'i told ya so'... but still the dream lives on...:)

I am going to refer a good friend of mine to read this post. Her and her husband adopted 3 awesome! kids;) and I think she would appreciate this post!!!

hugs my friend.

Felisol said...

Dear Colleen,
You are always writing about important issues, concerning not only you, but so many who hasn't got your gift of expressing themselves like you can.
Therefore your writings are important, whether they are about gossiping or motherhood.
Of course ou are the right mother of William, you have chosen to commit all your strength, effort and love 24/7 to rise him and give him whatever he needs to become a happy and harmonic human being.
That is quite a job,demanding great sacrifices, but also giving great rewardss.
The woman who gave life and birth to William probably also made a right and good choice. To see to that her offspring got a life much more secure and better in every way, than she could ever offer him.
Our Norwegian culture has tradition like this for centuries, even till after ww2.
Fostering or adoption probably is the greatest and most unselfish gift of all.
I wish you luck with your second child to come. God bless you all.
from Felisol

Peggy said...

Congratulations on your adoption and plans for the second time. I think it's great, My daughter, who is single, adopted a 13 year old girl 2 years ago. It hasn't all been easy but it has all been good. it's wonderful and amazing how God puts people together in families. And you, as well as my daughter, are "real" mothers. Absolutely! God's blessings on your family!

Lori said...

Your words stayed with me all day today and I just kept praying. I know there must be a reason that my heart felt this burden in such a way. So this evening I came across something that I thought you might find interesting. One of my favorite christian music artist's is this group called Third Day. I receive regular mailings from them and tonights was all about adoption. It gave me goose bumps. I watched the video and couldn't help but is so beautiful and touching. I thought of you through it all so thought I would send you the link to see it for yourself.

Hope you enjoy. XX

Alicia said...

Mother Teresa's thoughts on adoption: Jesus said, "Anyone who receives a child in my name, receives me." By adopting a child, these couples receive Jesus.

What is so profound is that there are literally thousands of motherless children aching for someone to hold them, love them and be called beloved. Colleen & Per I pray you are incredibly blessed soon by another adoption so that that child will know the incredible love of your home, of beloved parents. & William will be an incredible big brother!
Home is where the heart is,
Adoption speaks to my heart incredibly, such as music.

Corinne Rodrigues said...

Colleen - I just read the link about the lady on the plane and I'm shocked at what you went through. I can only think that she was sick and broken and needed to attack someone........That you and Per did not lose your cool is amazing - but then you are amazing! I can't imagine how someone would think that adoption was a breeze. I'm not a mother myself but I do know there's only one thing that makes someone a mom - LOVE. And you have loads of it - for William and the child to come. I remember reading these lines a long time ago and wanted to share them with time you can say them to your children:
Not flesh of my flesh
nor bone of my bone,
but still miraculously my own.

Never forget for a single minute,
that you grew not under my heart,
but in it.

Zuzana said...

Dear Colleen,
what a fantastic and very personal post - I love the sentiments you expressed here as the resonate so strongly within me.
I agree with you - a love for a child has very little to do with whose genes it carries. Love is universal and it can be felt across the miles and expressed to a perfect stranger, yet at the same time, a blood bond can at times be as fleeting as snowflakes.
I agree with everything you say. And the humility with which you express that "no one really knows" shows how much insight you really carry in your heart and your mind. Not just when it comes to motherhood and children, but when it comes to life itself.
I am so glad that people like you exist.
This post hit close to home for me today.
Have a lovely Friday dear friend and thank you again for your beautiful and kind comment on my Monday post,

Crown of Beauty said...

God knows all about adoption. He says we are adopted into His family, and gives us a name... an identity, and a sense of belonging... a destiny.

The Bible also says that He gives us the spirit of sonship - that way, we no longer feel the stigma of being unwanted, or uncared for... Instead, we feel valued, and loved.

I believe in adoption... can't imagine where I would be now if God didn't adopt me into His family.

Much love

laughwithusblog said...

Beautiful post! I don't know if we will ever adopt but I am very open to it. Thank you so much for sharing your joys and heartbreaks.

Grandma K said...

I have always thought of those who adopt as being brave parents. And yes, as, as parents of the children they adopt. I don't see it as 'easier'. What is easy about being a parent?

"...In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ in accordance with his pleasure and will..." Ephesians 1:5

makes me think that God is a big supporter of adoption! And I am glad he was willing to take me!

God bless you as you continue the process! Walk in grace and believe God.

Mary N. said...

I couldn't resist digging in your archives a bit and reading a bit more of your story. And everything I read shouted mother. To the bone you are a mother. People who believe that adoption isn't the same as having biological children are way off the mark in their understanding of what love is. Catholicofthule's remark about our adoption in Christ is perfect!

Colleen said...

Penny, no problem.:)

Karen (I DID call you Grace, sorry!:), thank you so much for your words and you can bet I won't be letting anyone steal that joy from me.:)

Deborah, thank you for your supportive and kind words! I try to remember too that people who say snide or mean things say more about themselves when they do so...good advice my friend! I so appreciate your comment. xx

Mari, thank you!

Jenn, if adopting is a dream of yours, pursue it! Your inlaws reaction is both sad and ridiculous. I think people reacting in a fearful way to adoption have terribly small minds. Good luck!:)

Felisol, your words mean a lot to me. The understanding in them touches me. Thank you for what you said about William's biological mother. So beautiful and I believe it too. I have only deep admiration for her.

Peggy, thanks for sharing about your daughter! Yes I can certainly understand it wouldn't always be easy but as you say, it's worth it.:) Thanks for your good wishes.:)

Colleen said...

Lori, that is absolutely moving. Thank you so much for thinking of thinking of me and sharing it. I can't say how much it means that you have really taken my story to heart. So much love to you. xx

Alicia, your prayer for us is beautiful. I also love Mother Teresa, she was such a wise and compassionate soul.

Corinne, that is a lovely poem, thank you! Yes, I also think she was a very disturbed woman and to be honest, I must attribute not losing my cool to being a bit of a coward. Thank you so much though for your input and caring words.

Zuzana, thank you so much. Everything you write in your comment is so true. We think the same in this. People attach far too much importance to genes when it's love that counts.

Lidj, I simply love your comment. Thank you my friend.

Esther, thank you!

Grandma K, I like the straight forward way you say what you think! Thank you. Yes, what in the world is easy about being a parent whether through adoption or biologically?!:)

Mary, what a lovely thing to hear! I consider it a huge compliment when someone cares enough to read back a bit, so thank you! What an honor! I appreciate you words so much!

Christmas-etc... said...

Goodness me! People can be really strange, can't they? I had no idea that there were so many different opinions on adoption. But to say you aren't a "real" mother for adopting... oh my... how naive. But you've got it right - take it to God! All I can say...Praise God Joseph didn't have any issues "adopting" Jesus! But now I wonder at the people who gave their "opinions" to him too... I'd say you're in good company!
many Blessings to you and your growing family!

Janet Sewell said...

Who understands adoption and the pain and joy therein.... God does! God sent His one and only son to the Cross so that we could be His adoptive children! We are coheirs with Christ because of what He did for us on the Cross, of which the physical and emotional pain, not to mention spiritual pain (My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?) we can't even begin to imagine or comprehend!

Colleen what you and Per are doing, have done, is beautiful - don't let anyone tell you different. You are parents! I can't believe that people can tell you any different! William is your son, you his mom and Per his dad. You have a bond that is just as strong as a bloodline, you have adoption. God has proved how important and infrangible that is through His great love for us. Don't let anybody tell you any different!

Love you friend!

Bongo said...

my daughter had a son at was a long pregnancy for both of us..I didn't know if i should prepare to bring a baby home or prepare for someone else to take him her 7th month we met this beautiful family..who wanted an open was incredibly painful to leave the hospital after 4 days of bonding with my grandson..but my daughter is braver then me and un selfish and wanted a better life for him.. Aiden is now 3 years old..and we see him often,... we are incredibly lucky,, he lives in the same town and all we need to do is call and we are welcome to see Aiden..we can know him and watch him ..he's happy....As always...XOXOXOXO