2018-05-01 / Features

When Mother’s Day means choosing

We were 12 years old the day my friend Pam called to tell me something amazing.

She wanted me to know she had just found out she was adopted, clearing up lots of confusing memories from her pre-school years and positively affecting the way she looked at herself.

She cried. Tears of joy.

I cried. Because she did.

At that moment, I could not think of anyone else I knew who had been mothered by a woman who had not given her life. I had no pattern to fall back on to be sure I was making the appropriate response.

But Pam didn’t care about whether I knew the right words or not. She simply wanted me to know, and to celebrate with her, the fact that someone had loved her, had chosen her, had given her the best life possible, despite the fact that it all began when Pam was no longer an adorable infant, but a little girl fast on the way to developing a mind of her own, with a few challenges thrown in for good measure.

The rest of the amazing story, Pam said as her words tumbled over themselves in her joy, was that her adoptive parents had not only chosen her, they had asked to become a family for her little brother, as well.

That bond between Pam and her new mother, in particular, was unbreakable through several decades, and my friend never stopped mourning her when death separated them.

Later, I realized I actually did know someone in a family situation similar to Pam’s. The reason I had not realized it earlier was that my beloved cousin Jack had joined my own family before I was born, although he was never officially adopted. I never thought of him as anything but family, and I think he had similar feelings for us, despite the fact that he knew and also loved his aging father and older brothers, who lived in the same small town.

It was my great-aunt and great-uncle who welcomed Jack into their home and hearts when his mother died and his father proved unable to care for him.

Long after that, my own daughter and her husband brought two precious little brothers into our family circle when they became foster parents. The pictures of the boys still decorate our homes, despite the fact that the state decided their birth mother should have another chance to raise them, after the year they had added so much to our lives.

A few days ago, I wrote a Mother’s Day column about the generations of women who mothered me through the years, alongside my birth mom. They were precious to me. I can only hope and pray I have had something approaching the positive influence on the new family generations following them that those “grands” and “great-grands” and aunts and great-aunts had on me.

But I will never be for my children what Pam’s adoptive mother was for her. What Jack’s unofficial foster mom was for him. What two little boys’ legal foster mommy was for them.

Those wonderful women willingly stepped into brokenness, took a child’s hand and led a little one to love.

Special Mother’s Day blessings for all of you who have done the same.

And thank you.

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