Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Small Tribute to Another Kind of Mother

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is LOVE.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13)

Let's take a moment to think about another kind of mother, one we don't often think about: Birth Moms. These women became pregnant (perhaps due to a mistake they could have prevented or the result a horrible crime committed against them or simply against all odds) and came to the conclusion that they could not provide a good life for their child: monetarily, emotionally, practically... too young, too busy, too poor, too alone, too unprepared, too sick, too addicted, whatever the reason...

These brave & discerning mothers chose
to give their own babies up to a better life. 

I cannot imagine the pain of saying goodbye, but I would pray for God to give me that kind of strength if and when I needed it. These women are heroes, not because they found themselves in some unmanageable situation, but because they put the needs--the life--of somebody else before their own. That is the very definition of a hero.

Birth Moms put their own lives on hold for a little while so that another's would be protected, so that another person would have a shot at living a life, too. Birth Moms endure the discomfort of 9 months of unwanted pregnancy, of physical sickness, of dramatic and often painful body changes, perhaps of jeers and whispers from neighbors, and of feeling a child begin inside themselves when they know they won't see that child grow up, all to protect the life of the person that was created either in a moment of weakness or accident or of unimaginable terror. And as if that weren't enough, they go on to endure the pain of saying goodbye to that same person whom they are biologically, and some would say spiritually, designed to love.

I'm not naive enough to believe that all women whose children are up for adoption fall into this category of selflessness and strength. Many children are taken out of abusive and unfit situations where the mother is either apathetic or a perpetrator, some mothers couldn't care less what happens to their children for lots of reasons, and some just don't want to be bothered. These families need our prayers (and intervention) as well.

Nevertheless, many Birth Moms make the choice to adopt their children out with the child's best interests at heart, and for many of them it's the most difficult thing they'll ever have to do. These women are the real heros of our time: stronger and more courageous than any other kind of mother I know. So, thank you. No one embodies "mom" as completely as you. You show us all that 1 Corinthians 13, a Biblical passage famous for its poetic rendering of love, is more than pretty words we like to hang on our walls: you show us all that the REAL LOVE described there does indeed bear all things: even saying goodbye when saying goodbye, however painful, is what's best for the beloved.

Because this choice is so very, very hard, some would-be Birth Moms back out at the last minute and decide to keep their babies. They must know the hearts they break. The must know the unintentional sorrow they cause with the misjudgment of their own ability to say goodbye, the hopes they raised, the love they fostered only to take it all away.

Still, we cannot blame them: certainly some made the right choice while the wrong choice was giving the child up in the first place, and anger has its place when it comes to being thrown into the short end of that bad choice. But it is always their choice to make. Unless that choice causes the child undue suffering, as it has caused suffering for hopeful parents whose hearts were set on raising the baby as their own, we ought not to lay blame on their shoulders, but only our compassion and understanding of just how truly hard it is to say, "Goodbye," once one has said, "I love you." 

But keep in mind: the would-be adoptive parents are forced to do just that.
So, let's say a prayer for Birth Moms and disappointed Adoptive Parents today.

Say a Prayer for Birth Moms Today”
by Megan Smith

Say a prayer for Birth Moms today,
who somehow had the courage to give their babes away.
Some gave them willingly and others made a hard choice,
while some Birth Moms weren't even given a voice.
Perhaps a man stole her freedom, or her circumstance caved in.
Perhaps she made a mistake, but we're not meant to judge her sin.
Let's remember Birth Moms as we live our daily lives:
they endure 9mos of discomfort so their little ones survive.
May God give her the happiness she so bravely gave away,
and send her peace of mind each and every day
she thinks about her baby growing up somewhere else:
loved, wanted, cherished, and held by others but not by herself.
May God never let her feel that what she's done is wrong,
and remind her always that she is the embodiment of STRONG.
She is Mankind's Silent Hero: giving up everything for Love.
She quietly showed strength meant for angels up above.
Her sacrifice, more than any, echoes God's giving of His Son,
let go for the good of others so our salvation could be won.
If you are privileged enough to know a Birth Mom,
and if it is appropriate for you to do so, please
thank her proudly, like you would any hero
who put someone's life before their own.
One more tribute to yet another kind of mother: here is an open letter to any hopeful adoptive mother who's had the heart-wrenching experience of the birth mother changing her mind at the last minute (it works for fathers, too).

Now Who Am I?

When a baby is born and tragically dies, or even dies before being born, I am still a mother. I am the mother of a child who lives in heaven, but I am a mother. When an adoption fails after having been a mother to a baby for a few days, a few weeks, a couple of months. . . who am I? A baby dying is of course infinitely worse because a life has ended. When an adoption fails, a life has changed—we pray for the better. Four lives have changed, or more, and at least two of them for the worse: a Mom & a Dad who were but aren't. Someone else is instead..

So now. . . who am I?

I can tell you what I feel: sad, hurt, devastated beyond reason, disappointed beyond words, angry (though I don't want to be), empty, lonely . . . But WHO AM I? This child won't remember me. She was only a few days or months old. Surely her mother won't talk to her about me: it would be too painful for her, I would imagine. She didn't want to cause anyone pain. She just wanted her baby. But she said I could have her baby. For a while, I DID have her baby. Now I have no one's baby.

So WHO AM I???

I am a child of God. A great deal of trouble brews when we begin to define ourselves by the things of the world (and yes, families are of this world even though our love for them extends beyond this world). Wife, mother, sister, daughter, banker, missionary, doctor, nurse, teacher, friend . . . These are all things we do. These are names that we have, vocations from a theological point of view. But God defines who we ARE:
You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.” (1 Corinthians 7:23)
Do not allow yourself to be defined by what you do for men, any men, important and irreplaceable as those things and those men (and children) may be. We are only truly defined by what God has created us to be and by what God done for us in Christ. If we never interacted with another human being for as long as we lived, so long we were baptized and had access to the Word of God, we would still be a Child of God. And that alone is what we will always be because everything else, EVERYTHING, passes away.

Are you a mother? Not yet. You will grieve not being a mother to that little person who came into your life with the promise of being the fulfillment of your greatest dream, something you've been waiting for most likely for years, something you've paid dearly for in a lot of ways, invested more time and heartache in than anything else, for a while. The love was instantaneous. It doesn't go away the same as it came because it is a real mother's love as well as the real love of finally being a mother. That mother's love is the same reason the birth mother couldn't give the baby up in the end, even though she honestly believed that she could before she saw the baby, held the baby, heard the baby. . .
But there is a little person out there to whom you will be Mom for life.
Now you are a mother-in-waiting with a broken heart that will heal, albeit not without some scarring. "Mom" will be one of your names someday, and one of your most important jobs. But even more importantly, You are a Child of God with a heart of gold, mended and made perfect in your baptism. That is YOU. That will never change. Sadly and quite unfairly, this was not your baby. Your baby is still out there, and both of you are waiting: together but apart, for now.
                                              Another (Disappointed) Child of God

"But Zion said, ''The LORD has forsaken me;
my Lord has forgotten me.''
Can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.
Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands.”