The first six and a half years of her life I didn’t even know she existed. This part of her life is not my story to share, even if I knew all of the details. She had a birth mom and a birth dad and I thank them for bringing her into this world and giving her the gift of life.
This is my story to share. My husband and I were married fairly young, at the ages of 20 and 21 and within two and a half years, we started having children. I gave birth to two beautiful daughters and a son. For a long time when the kids were little I felt like I was in survival mode due to having three C-Sections back to back and severe lack of sleep. About three years after our young family moved from Bracebridge to Kingston Ontario, I began feeling like life was settling in. Our youngest was now almost six, and I was feeling stronger emotionally and physically than I did when the kids were really little. Life was good.
One evening while taking a bubble bath and having a few minutes to myself, I began offering a prayer to my Heavenly Father. I began by letting Him know how thankful I was for my life, and also letting Him know that I was ready for something new, that I felt strong enough to take on whatever He wanted that would allow me to learn and grow. Prayers like this can be scary, but I felt moved to let Him know that I was ready for His will in my life and that I was grateful. I had no idea, at that moment, what this memorable prayer would bring into our lives.
Within a week of offering that prayer, our oldest daughter bounded into my bedroom, landed on my bed and said “Hey mom, let’s adopt”. My husband and I had never discussed adopting a child and the thought had actually never entered my mind to this point in my life. Not even once. When our daughter said this to me, something within me realized that this might be the new thing that I had been praying for. Interesting, how an eleven year old girl can be moved by the Spirit without even realizing she was helping with an answer to my prayer. Interesting, that I would be moved to feel ready for something new and offer that prayer in the first place. I love that no matter how old or young we are, God communicates with us in ways we will understand.
After three C-Sections and almost dying in the hospital after the birth of our son, (my last) we were not going to have any more children. After hearing “Hey mom, let’s adopt”, I thought this might be something that we were meant to do. Maybe there was a child who needed a home. Maybe there was a child who needed OUR home. This is not something we entered into lightly or quickly. We knew this would forever change the dynamic of our little family. After my husband and I spoke about it together and began praying in earnest as to whether this would be a good thing for our family, we decided to speak to our children about the possibility. Each of our children had a voice in this because we knew it would impact them. We began feeling that we would like to adopt an older child rather than a baby. Again, kind of interesting that we would feel this, as most people want to adopt babies. The only concern any of our children had came from our oldest daughter. She wanted to be sure she would remain the oldest in our family. After praying together as a family, and having lots of discussion, we decided that we would move forward and try to adopt.
Paperwork, paperwork and more paperwork. Anyone who has been through this process knows all of the interviews, home visits and paperwork that needs to be done. It’s not a quick process. After everything was submitted, we were chosen by a birth mom who had an 18 month old girl. We met her and her daughter and were totally open to having her in our home, but eventually the birth mom decided to keep her child. As much as we were disappointed, we felt like the right child would eventually come along.
Within another few months we were contacted about another potential adoption possibility. This little girl was six years old. We met with her birth mom and had some visits, and this time, eventually, it worked out. After one of our visits the girl’s mom called us and told us that her daughter was crying for us and saying that she wanted to come and live with us. We thought this was amazing because she had no idea that her mom was thinking of placing her for adoption. This little six year old fit in well with our other children and was one day younger than our son. He would no longer be the youngest in the family and our oldest daughter would remain the oldest.
I would love to say that things fell into place quickly and effortlessly, but this was not the case. We wanted to adopt this little six year old girl, and her birth mom decided she wanted to give her up to our family because there was no dad in the picture and she wanted her to have siblings. Road block after roadblock surfaced with government agencies who should have been there to help. Suffice it to say that we eventually made it happen. Her birth mom gave us legal custody and she came to live with us. It took almost three years from that point, as again, there were many hoops to jump through. After every “i” was dotted and “t” was crossed she was adopted and officially became part of our family.
Our case worker for our adoption was wonderful to work with. I remember her being so happy that there was a special ceremony for our adoptive-daughter in our religion that would bind her or “seal” her to our family, not just on a piece of paper, but spiritually, for time and all eternity. This was a very special event that took place shortly after she was officially adopted, and a wonderful experience for our little family, which was now complete.
Life moved forward and although it wasn’t easy at times, it was a good decision that we made for our family. Her teenage years were filled with friends, laughter (I love her laugh) and a brother who became her best friend. She began dating and this blossomed into young love. This was her first and only boyfriend and she started dating him just before she moved away to go to college. She came back home early, struggling with homesickness. We then went through, what I would say, is probably the most difficult time in our relationship. After a really explosive situation, I remember going to my bedroom sobbing. This was my “aha” moment, when I realized that it didn’t matter that I didn’t give birth to her. She was every bit as much a part of me as my other three children were. I could not leave the situation as it stood. I can only describe her mood as black during this period of time – she was so angry, and we didn’t really understand why. Our daughter had a lot of anger, and what we later learned were abandonment issues from a young age, growing up. This coloured her world and how she viewed everything. Once we understood that she had abandonment issues, everything made sense. We realized that this was normal behaviour given what she went through in the first six years of her life. I wish we had understood this much earlier in our relationship, as I feel we would have been more understanding as parents.
I’m happy to write that we did work through this difficult time and we have a loving relationship and communicate almost every day. We have both grown and learned. She is now married to that same first boyfriend and they have two beautiful children together.
Adoption means… all of the things we sang about together as a young family with rose coloured glasses when we recorded our “Adoption Means…” song. Thinking about it all of these years later I realize it also means so much more – sticking together through the good, bad and the ugly. Learning and growing together. Communicating. Fighting for that relationship. Receiving counselling to learn how to help. I’m thankful for that prayer offered so many years ago in my bubble bath that led to one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. Although she didn’t grow inside my tummy, she definitely grew inside my heart.