Thursday, October 10, 2013

Birth Mother

What happens when you give your blog a fresh face lift, become re-energized about writing again, write and publish a 'new beginning' post, and vow to post regularly?  You get a baby!  And you don't post again for four months!

Little did I know when I penned the first post on the newly renovated blog that by the time I published it I would be on my way to meet a young woman who would change my life in a way no one in the world ever has or ever will again. 

Young, immature, scared, stressed, strangely calm, happy, sad, guilty, hopeful, regretful, thankful, nervous - a handful of conflicting words that describe what I saw in her face and heard in her voice the first time I met her.  A college student in her early twenties, her large round belly overwhelmed her tiny foreign frame, betraying a truth that could not be hidden.  At any moment she would deliver a 6 lb. 15 oz. 19.5 inch long baby boy that she kept telling herself she was emotionally detached from.  With an adoption plan in place, she had scoured family profile books searching for one that spoke to her heart.  She dug for the proverbial needle in a haystack, looking for a word, a picture, a feeling - anything that would point her to a family that she could trust to give the unborn child that squirmed inside her, pressing his foot against her side so hard its outline was visible through her shirt, the life she believed he deserved.  The life that she, herself, could not provide.

A full-blooded Inca Indian, born of parents who were raised in the high jungle on the Iquitos side of the Andes Mountains in Peru, she was no stranger to adoption as her own biological mother surrendered her to gringo parents when she was only a month old, leaving all traces of her ethnic heritage behind.  As we sat in a hotel conference room memorizing each other's faces, staring deep into each other's eyes, alternating between laughter and tears, and sharing every detail of our lives that was appropriate to share under the circumstances, I kept wanting to switch from English to Spanish.  She just looked SO Peruvian, and she was, on the surface anyway.  In words punctuated by a squeaky, childlike giggle, she pointed out that I (the blonde white woman) would be talking to myself if I changed languages because she (the dark brown woman) didn't speak a word of Spanish.  We laughed.

That meeting was precious time that I will never forget as long as I live.  There was an unspoken bond between us and we both knew it.

Six days later I received a text message saying she was in labor.  Seven days later this beautiful young woman gave birth to an even more beautiful baby.  Eight days later I sat with her in a hospital room and we both cried telling each other how much we loved each other.  Nine days later she placed her baby boy in my arms and told me that she knew deep in her heart that this was meant to be.  She said God had brought beauty from the ashes of her situation when He allowed her to carry this child so that Collins and I could become parents.  She believes that God used her to give us what we could not give ourselves. 

Nearly four months have passed and Toby Edgardo is insanely happy, ridiculously active, and spoiled absolutely rotten.  I did not know it was possible to love someone as much as I love this baby.  But not a day goes by that I don't think about Toby's birth mother.  While I exuberantly celebrate every second of every day of my life with this baby, I also grieve for her as her life goes forward without him.  It is a strange mixture of emotions that defies explanation or understanding. 

All babies are gifts.  But adoptive parents are acutely aware of that fact in ways that biological parents probably are not.  Another woman carried and birthed a child.  Knowing she could not care for him the way she knew he should be cared for, she loved him so much that she put her own selfish desires aside and entrusted Collins and me to raise him as our own.  She gave me her most precious possession believing I was worthy enough to be called "Mommy" by her little boy.  But there's more…

There's a bond between this birth mother and me that goes even deeper than the baby that we share.  Because on a raw, bare naked, vulnerable, nothing hidden soul level, what has transpired here is God.  Not an act of God, or the will of God, or a blessing from God.  God Himself happened.  God knows that we are a depraved people and we make monumental messes of our lives every day that we breathe.  But love overtakes Him and, finding us worthy amidst our blackest sinfulness, He selflessly gives us a baby - His baby - His son - and trusts us to receive the gift and value the pricelessness of it.  He gives us what we are unable to give ourselves.  He trades beauty for ashes.

Toby's birth mother is the bravest, most selfless, strongest, most courageous person I have ever known.  Though she would deny it, she is a picture of Jesus.  She knows a depth of love and a level of sacrifice that I cannot comprehend.  Motherhood demands a dying to self in ways that no other experience in this life can compare to.  On days when I want to throw my own private little hissy fit, stomping my demanding foot, shaking my indignant fist, and crying out in a sleep-deprived, unshowered, still have my pajamas on at 3 pm, puffy bags and dark circles under my eyes, don't remember when I last brushed my teeth or hair desperation/hysteria, a pair of big, dark eyes looks at me, sparkling, while a toothless, mouth-wide-open grin spreads across a face of the smoothest, richest, most flawless caramel colored skin I have ever seen.  And in that little tan face topped with jet black hair, a stark contrast to the fair skin and blonde hair genetics donated to me, I'm reminded of a birth mother who resembles my Savior in more ways that she may ever know.  

Recommended Reading

  • The Bible
  • Serving with Eyes Wide Open - Doing Short Term Missions with Cultural Intelligence - David A. Livermore
  • Cross-Cultural Servanthood - Serving the World in Christlike Humility - Duane Elmer
  • Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help (And How to Reverse It) - Robert D. Lupton
  • When Helping Hurts-Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor...and Yourself - Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert
  • Shadow of the Almighty - Elizabeth Elliot
  • Messy Spirituality - Michael Yaconelli
  • The Irresistible Revolution - Shane Claiborne
  • Peace Child - Don Richardson
  • If God Should Choose - Kristen Stagg
  • In the Presence of My Enemies - Gracia Burnham
  • Inside Afghanistan - John Weaver
  • Same Kind of Different as Me - Ron Hall and Denver Moore
  • Through Gates of Splendor - Elizabeth Elliot
  • End of the Spear - Steve Saint