3 Mothers and a Birthday: Adoption Joy on the Hard Days

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November is National Adoption Month. If you know anyone who is passionate about adoption, you may see posts of happy families celebrating time together, pictures of lonely children who are still waiting for a home, statistics citing the vast numbers of orphans around the world, prayers of families who are eagerly waiting for a child soon to be home, and suggestions of what you can do to bring hope to the fatherless.

Adoption is a real-life picture of the gospel. The love of a Father changes strangers into beloved children.

adoption joy hard days

Our beloved daughters from China have been home nearly seven months, and this month we celebrated our daughter’s birthday with her for the first time. Our almost six-year-old had been looking forward to this day almost since the day she arrived. She already knew how to sing “Happy Birthday” in English, and  when we celebrated the birthdays of friends and cousins she would ask, “My birthday party, mama?” Of course, she got her long awaited guitar, along with chocolate cake (she ate about two bites), a family bike ride (6 miles that nearly exhausted her daddy), and a party with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins galore.

Through all the joy, we can easily forget about the grief. Grief that our daughter may not be able to put into words, or even thoughts yet. Grief that I hold for her– for now.

I am her third mother. Two other women, far away, look at the calendar and grieve for her, also.

Ava’s foster mother grieves, but with the joy of knowing she is safe and loved. Ava has been able to video chat with her “China Mama” and hold on to that relationship just tight enough to keep her fond memories strong.

Ava’s birth mother grieves, but she will likely never know where her daughter is or how she is doing. I pray she grieves with hope. Hope that has been fulfilled. I shared some of our questions on Ava’s birthday last year (An Orphan’s Last Birthday), but now I know just what a blessing she is missing in this beautiful, smart, stubborn, loving child.

I am her forever Mama. I have the privilege of birthday smiles and kisses.

Happy Birthday, Ava!
Happy Birthday, Ava!

Having Joy on the Hard Days

Some call these beautiful, hard days “traumaversaries.” Even when the mind cannot remember the trauma from the past, often the primitive brain recognizes the time of year and bring feelings and behaviors that the child does not understand herself. (The Primal Wound, The Connected Child)

If you have an older child, prepare a few days ahead by talking with your child about the upcoming day. Help him or her understand what events to expect and how the day will go. An adopted child will naturally think of birth parents around birthdays. Let them be free to express their thoughts without fear of hurting your feelings.

Talk about the hard feelings. Let your child express sadness and grief, especially during days before and the quiet moments of the day. Hopefully, he or she will then be free to enjoy the fun and love of a special day.

If the day doesn’t go well, keep calm add an extra dose of patience. Remember, it is even more frustrating for you child who really wants to enjoy the day as much as you want her to.

Special days with awkward, even sad or frustrating moments will come, but do not let that fear stop you from pursuing adoption.

Yes, adoption is expensive. It costs your heart, but every child is worth the price.

As I think of broken hearts that bring about the miracle of adoption, I want them to remember God hears the cry of the orphan, and of their mothers.

But You have seen, for You observe trouble and grief, To repay it by Your hand. The helpless commits himself to You; You are the helper of the fatherless. Psalm 10:14 NKJV





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