I’m Not His First Mom (bittersweet Mother’s Day reflections of an adoptive mama)

It’s almost Mother’s Day. Because I love being a mom, I suppose I should have “all the feels” about that. Don’t get me wrong. It will be a beautiful day. Spring has finally sprung in Northern California, and our weather could not be more gorgeous. Also, I get to see one of my dearest friends’ garden on a Master Gardener tour, and then spend the rest of the day with my family. (I can’t really think of a more enjoyable way to spend a Sunday in May.) And of course, … there is my Little Bean, who I love with my whole heart. He is truly the light of our lives. But Mother’s Day for me?? Wellllllll, … its complicated, and here’s why.

Beautiful pink and lavender tulips are reminiscent of Mother's Day.

Little Bean is nearly 4, and has been a part of our family for 2.5 years.  As delighted as we were to meet him, and as overjoyed as we are to be his forever family, we are honest with the fact that he entered our lives because of early loss. The embers of memory of his first family, life and sense of normal still smolder. And may forever.

I Will Always Share Mother’s Day

On Mother’s Day, I can’t help but think about Little Bean’s first mother. She was the mom who conceived him, carried him, and gave him life. No matter what may have happened later, she was the mom who had his newborn pictures taken at the hospital and brought that sweet boy home, all full of hope and promise, smooth skin and sweet coos. It was her genetics that gave him the adorable little nose, fair complexion and teeny-tiny stature. For that matter, I bet our son shows countless more personality traits, facial expressions and personal preferences on a daily basis that resemble her.

She is the specter that haunts Mother’s Days and Little Bean’s birthdays. And I cannot help but wonder if that feeling is mutual. Does she think about him on Mother’s Day? Is she curious to know what he’s up to, how he’s doing, and if we are taking good care of him? Does she have regrets about her choices? Is she angry with CPS (or with Mr. Bean and I) for what has transpired? All of these are things that I want to know, and yet at the same time, I almost don’t want to know. Because … pain. And loss. Still, the questions linger.

Regardless of the circumstances and choices made along the way, she is still my son’s first mother. That will never change. And my guess is that, on some level, the two of them (Little Bean and his first mom) will always think of each other from time to time. Wondering what happened. Considering what “might have” been. Pondering whether different choices could have impacted the outcome. I also wonder … will Little Bean have similar questions later? And will I be able to honor his legitimate questions and concerns with an appropriate balance of grace and truth? It all remains to be seen. And I pray that I do.

This Jody Lander's quote, set atop pink flowers, captures the bittersweet Mother's Day sentiments of an adoptive mom.

Don’t Misunderstand Me

Because I am so honest about these things, you may be wondering if I am a fan of Mother’s Day at all. So let me clear that up. YES, I am excited for Sunday. Absolutely excited. I waited a long time to be a mom, and the waiting has, I believe, intensified my joy in motherhood. Even if the path is messy and the unanswered questions loom. The fact that I have questions doesn’t negate my contentment. The two feelings can co-exist.

In the last two-and-a-half years, we have experienced countless small miracles with this little man of ours. We have struggled through attachment issues. We have seen his ability to emotionally regulate dramatically improve. He went from not talking at all, using only tantrums and tears to communicate, to talking our ears off now. Little man is a good friend. It has been a delight to see that he now has a BFF at daycare, and loves his cousins. He has a passion for tools, dirt, superheroes and macaroni and cheese that we support and encourage. And to be honest, I can hardly imagine what our lives were like before him anymore. 

Simply said, I love being his mom. More than I ever thought possible.

So, what about you? Are you approaching a Mother’s Day with similar ambivalence? And perhaps even feeling guilty that not all of your feels are 100% positive? One of the first books I read about adoption, way before we adopted Little Bean, was Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew, by Sherrie Eldridge. (affiliate link) Sherrie’s book was instrumental in helping me to understand adoption from the perspective of an adoptee, and I highly recommend it. Or, perhaps you are a foster mom dutifully caring for kids 24-7 who are not “your own” this Mother’s Day. That is such a hard space to be in. Or maybe you are a step-parent, and you are finding yourself having similar feelings. I would love to hear from you.  

Happy Mother’s Day!


1 Comment

  1. Darcy
    May 12, 2017 / 9:01 AM

    Great to see you yestetday….i was so amazed with the social strides little bean has made well done he is a lucky little boy to have landed in the Bean household
    Your reference to his birth mother made me cry as she would too to see the love that envelops this child daily
    Happy Mothers Day

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