by Judy Hoppe
Every love story is beautiful, but ours will always be one of my favorite.
When I was a little girl, I would lock the bathroom door and climb up the rungs of the bathroom drawers. There on the cool bathroom counter, I would perch myself, cross legged, and stare at my reflection with a million questions that I felt I would never have the answers to.
I’d study my green eyes, out of control bouncing curls, and my complexion that differed ever so slightly from the people I loved the most. My entire family had striking blue eyes, straight hair, and porcelain skin, and even though I “looked” like them in some outward ways, I still knew I was different.
The questions would pile up in my mind, which in turn grew this indefinable, vast hole in my heart. Sometimes it was pure curiosity that brought me here, but other times the weight of the questions felt dark and inexplicably sad.
I was loved and I was wanted – I knew this without a doubt – and my family was all I had ever known, so why did I always feel like there was a piece of me missing? Why did I have this gnawing emptiness constantly lingering in ways that I never felt I could share with anyone else?
These thoughts would come to me at night, too. I’d find myself dreaming up fairy tales before I’d drift off to sleep, except they weren’t the stories that most little girls probably dreamt about. I’d create and conspire about all of these fictitious characters, the reasons behind their choices, and how we would meet one day and what a magical reunion it would be.
Where most little girls drifted off to sleep dreaming about fairies and princesses, I was dreaming about her, my first mother.
I was never naïve to my adoption story; my parents had raised me to know, explaining that I was adopted and that my birth mother had made a selfless choice out of love to give me a better life. While this is absolutely nothing short of true, it felt like a band-aid over my deep, primal wounds. I was scared to ask questions, scared to feel anything at all. What if my family felt like they weren’t enough in any capacity or that I was ungrateful?
So instead of asking, I held my curiosities in and lived my life behind this mask of questions and pain. I did my best to suffice the doubt, even though I felt a huge part of my identity had been stolen or lost forever.
I continued to conjure up the stories in my mind about my birth family, and even though I knew they weren’t true, it brought me comfort. They were my greatest mystery – unsolvable and intangible. A figment of my adolescent imagination. I would close my eyes and try to remember the lines and curves of her face, her smile, or her eyes. But I couldn’t, and I would weep.
I would beg myself to just remember what she looked like. To wish an image into my consciousness. Tediously and tirelessly, I tried this game over and over, but the memory was always blank.
I lived in relentless darkness, until one day she called.
I answered the phone, and when she spoke her first three words, my skin prickled and my hands trembled, recognizing her voice in an instant. I can’t explain it; I just knew it was her. The darkness fell like a curtain and the healing began. Little by little.
When my husband and I decided to pursue the fiery desire in our hearts that was adoption, I knew it would be of utmost importance for us to be wildly open with our child’s first family.
As we pushed forward into the great unknown (yet familiar) world of adoption, I prayed incessantly for a wide-open relationship with a mama who would not only choose us to raise her child, but who would hopefully wish to join our family, too. Above everything else, this was my greatest desire for us, this mama, and most importantly, our child.
God heard our prayer, and knowing the passion in our hearts, he matched us with a beautiful woman, both inside and out.
There were so many obstacles along the way, but God moved mountain after mountain to bring our two families together. This mama of my son is the kindest, softest, and most beautiful soul I have ever met. And while we play very different roles in our boy’s life, she is every bit his mom as I am.
She is the one who carried him in her womb and nurtured his body so tenderly and mindfully.
She is the one who felt his kicks and his hiccups.
She is the one who did the hard work of bringing him earth side.
She is a part of him, and she will continue to be a part of his life.
She will be the one to tell him stories about her pregnancy. She will be the one to answer questions about his family tree. She will be the one to teach him everything he might want to know about his culture, authentically and realistically in a way I could never do in the same way she can.
But still I am the one who gets to rock and sing him to sleep.
I am the one who gets to kiss his owies and bring him to his first day of school.
I am the one who will embarrass him throughout his teenage years and plan all of his birthday parties.
I am the one who will help guide him, mold him, and shape him into the man Jesus created him to be.
And hopefully, together we will do it all in way that does not leave him with the same questions clouding his identity as I had.
Together, this mama and I get to watch our beautiful boy’s life unfold.
We get to watch him grow up into a man, celebrate his life, and cheer on his accomplishments.
I know, regardless of our openness, our son will still face trials surrounding the complexity of adoption, but I never want my selfishness or fear to hinder his healing.
It’s scary. I know that.
But if I could let you look in on just piece of our lives, I would tell you this: We have been insanely blessed through this beautiful relationship, and there’s no one else I’d rather walk beside in motherhood than my sister-mom. I love her deeply.
Separate from this beautiful and charismatic son we share, I have gained a sister and lifelong friend.
It is my prayer that his greatest mystery is already solved through the gift of open adoption, and the rest we’ll face head-on along the way.
My passion and goals in life include raising her son to be a faithful servant of God, but also to cheer her on and stand in her corner and hold her hand as she holds mine. I will forever champion alongside her, and spend eternity in admiration of her selflessness and bravery.
We are better because of each other.
If fear is keeping you from chasing something hard, I encourage you to run full force into it, in faith that God will carry you through to the other side and in the knowledge that His plan is far more beautiful than you could ever dream up. He knows the greatest desires of our hearts, and He will deliver them to us in unfathomable ways if we will let Him.
My son will never question where his beautiful, dancing, dark eyes, amazing head of hair, and yummy brown skin came from. Very often I point out his facial expressions that are ALL his first mama’s. I absolutely love seeing her in him and seeing him beam with pride when I do.
While some of the hurt and grief will remain, he will never question the vast love that two families have for him, now and always.
Together, we are motherhood.