Sunday is the day we celebrate mothers. I’ve been mothering for 15 years and our kids are now 21, 19, and 15. I became a mother in the non-traditional way—adopting all three kids from a Russian orphanage in 1997 and 1999. They were 6, 4, and 19 months then. The older kids were speaking fluent Russian and the youngest was not yet able to stand or hold his own sippy cup.
The first time I heard Anna, our eldest, say “Mama!” was the first time our eyes met in the great room. The orphanage director leaned down and whispered in her ear as they both looked straight at me, “This is your mama!” And she ran. With arms opened wide and a smile even wider, Anna ran into my arms and gushed, “Mama!” I didn’t realize just how much I had longed to hear someone call me Mama.
Finally, after all those years of waiting and trying and crying, I was a mother. No more Mother’s Day church celebrations where I wasn’t included. No more standing on the outside of motherhood looking in—like one not invited to the party. And yet, there still lingered the knowledge of difference.
I was different. We are different, we women who mother without bodies bearing down. Our souls bear down on us instead and we can feel so deficient, so incomplete. When others speak bliss of bellies expanding and breasts feeding babes, we sit still and silent. We will never know, really. There’s a sadness lingering, though soft and distant. Can we be completely woman with incomplete experience? Can we know the joy of motherhood when we take in other mothers’ children for life?
Yes, we can—if we’re willing.
I think about adoption—the wonder of nurturing life we don’t bear with our bodies. And I think of all God has born of heart and soul and prayer and faith these past years. Mothering—to be a mother—this gift comes from God and God often gives gifts we least expect.
Though I had always expected to birth babies and had never considered the need for adoption, I am blessed beyond measure to deeply understand the meaning of adoption from having adopted. After all, we’re all adopted.
Once spiritual exiles, we come back home to our Father through adoption. Jesus brings us home from distant lands. We’ve sailed so far away and become lost at sea. But He comes searching and never calls off the rescue effort. He’s all about saving us from our orphaned places and adopting us into His holy family, being made wholly alive and well. And God creates families in beautifully different ways here on earth, even when the sin curse breaks bodies such that they won’t conceive and give birth on their own.
Jesus gives new birth to all. Jesus brings new life for all.
I’m no stranger to adoption, really, even before we adopted our children. I realized a few years ago that I’ve been adopting all my life. I started by adopting and nurturing helpless creatures like baby birds and chipmunks. I loved them as my own. I have adopted mothers and fathers all along life’s path. I have adopted sisters and brothers and daughters and sons.
God gives through adoption what biology withholds. Sometimes, our richest and most meaningful relationships are created outside the bounds of biological family. For this truth, I am grateful. My life is a living, breathing, full testimony of how God makes rich through the spirit of adoption.
Ever feel sad that your body won’t bear? Consider adoption. Maybe it’s not your call to actually adopt a child and raise him or her (or them!) up in your home. Could it perhaps be a call to adopt spiritually—to take someone under your wing and offer mother love?
Ever wish you had a heart sister? Adopt one! Or two! Or more! Seek and pray and watch for heart sisters to appear and then let your heart be opened by God to receive sister love in a whole new way. It’s bliss. Believe me.
Ever wish you had a mother or a father who met your emotional needs? Adopt one—or two—or three! Seek and find people who can and want to fill some of those longings. Age doesn’t matter. I’ve had so many friends of varying ages who have provided mother and father nurture to me over the years. And I have provided the same. When we can let go of needing our family to be perfect family, we are free to find family who are able and wanting to love as God intends us to be loved. And when we can spread the need around, no one is depleted. Everyone is enriched.
There is no need to be poor in the kingdom of God. God is rich. He abounds in love. We only remain poor when our hearts and minds remain closed. Lay down the rules! Lay down the have-to-have expectations! Receive great and wonderful filling from our great and wonderful God! When we open gripping fingers on our must-haves, we open our minds and hearts to greater possibilities.
The greatest gifts in life are most often those we have not yet imagined.
The greatest gifts in life are those imagined in the mind of God, given freely from His heart to all who will open and receive.