One of the hardest things for me to "get over" when I was thinking about adoption (before committing to it) was the idea of having a child who I didn't carry for 9 months, who I didn't experience birth with or those first moments after birth, who I didn't nurse or experience every day of their lives. Pregnancy and birth and bonding are things that bring me joy. It was (and still is) hard to think about not having that. But the more I thought and talked and prayed, the more I came to see how very me-centered that was.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being or enjoying pregnancy or birth or bonding or biological children. Absolutely not. Please don't misread me on that. I enjoyed (almost) every minute of it with Caleb. I wouldn't trade it for the world. I look forward to experiencing it again someday. But what I came to realize and see is that it becomes selfish if that is what would stop me from enjoying a child through adoption. It would be me saying no to a wonderful blessing simply because "I" didn't get to experience pregnancy and "I" didn't get to experience birth and "I" missed out on those first years. It would be passing up an opportunity for our home and hearts to expand with a child needing a home and a family, only because "I" might be losing an experience. Something doesn't seem quite right with that picture in my opinion. It is a hard thing to think about, the "missing out," but not a good reason to miss out altogether!
One section from "Field of the Fatherless" stuck out to me because I found another woman, Melody, who wrestled with these same thoughts. How good it feels to know you aren't alone in a struggle! She wrote:
"Since Matt and I have officially begun this adoption process, I have been processing the impact a third child will have on our family. I carried my children, Caroline and Tobin, in my body. I was their protector, their provider, and their comfort for those nine (make it ten!) months. I was the first person to see them come take their first breath. I was there those first days of their lives and beyond. In my limited experience, all that I mentioned above is what I defined as motherhood.
With our third child, our daughter from Ethiopia, my definition of motherhood has to be different. I'm selfishly grieving that I won't be those things to her. Someone else will have the privilege of carrying her throughout those first months of life. Someone else will give birth to her. Someone else will care for her during those first few days. My journey of motherhood with our third child, our daughter, will begin when she is handed to me, when I take her into my arms.
There is part of my heart that is empty right now. I know that I have another child who is waiting for me. Instead of caring for her by eating the right things and exercising, I must instead pray, dream and wait. So I'm trying to use this time to dream about what this new type of motherhood will be. Instead of newborn moments, I will have other times with her. I will laugh, love and care for her as my daughter brought to me by God, not of my flesh but of my heart (page 86)."
I think her words ring so true for me right now and clearly depict the feelings I am processing through. So much of "motherhood" as I have come to know it seems wrapped up in these aspects of pregnancy, birth, bonding. Good things, all of them and important. But is that the essence of the motherhood (or parenthood) we are called to? Does God give us children so that we can experience pregnancy, birth and bonding? Are those things what makes us mommies and daddies? And are those the things most important for babies and children? Is that what they need most from us? Or are we given children to raise, protect, train, instruct, and ultimately point to Christ? Where do I put more of my value and emphasis? Where do you? What defines us as parents and what makes us "mom" or "dad"?