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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

First Mom

I met a woman that changed me.  It's likely that I'll never meet her again.  But for a moment I met her, and I don't think I'll see adoption quite the same way again.

Papa and I went to an open house for an amazing family that was welcoming home their 5th child.
I didn't realize what we were walking in to.
Oh, this sweet absolutely gorgeous baby, 8 days old, with a head full of dark downy hair, sleeping so peacefully in his mama's arms.  The sight was divine, and I won't lie that seeing him, I had to hold back my tears.

And then, as quickly as I was introduced to this new baby, I met his other mama.  Sweet baby's first mother who had given birth to him just 8 days earlier.  The way she moved about this home and interacted with the people there, it was obviously she was a part of this family now.  It was amazing to witness.  And for a moment I wondered if I would have the courage to grow my family in this way.  I really didn't know.  Breathe.

I'd give absolutely anything to meet my children's first mothers.  Anything for my children to have a relationship their VietNam and China mothers.  And here was a woman, standing right in front of me, who represented the 3 women to gave birth to, chose life for, and were my daughters' and son's mothers.  I was nervous.  So much I wanted to say.  I wanted to hug her.  I wanted to say thank you.  I wanted to cry.  I wanted to pray and mourn and celebrate all in the same breath.  What to say?  How to say it?  To say anything at all during such an intimate moment?  Or nothing at all.  Breathe.

But I've kicked myself many times in hindsight for not saying anything at all in fear of saying the wrong thing.  So I gathered my courage, rehearsed several introductions, and made my way over to talk with her.
Hi, I'm Nancy.  It's so nice to meet you.  You're sweet baby's birth mom?  Sweet baby is so beautiful.  It is a blessing. 
"It is a blessing" is the only thing I could think of to say.  The words seemed so little as they came across my lips.  But it was all I had at the moment.
An amazing blessing.  
Crap, don't cry now.
No wait.  I said birth mom, didn't I?  I can't remember why I'm not suppose to use that term.  I just remember I'm not suppose to.  And I just did.  Crap.
Just go there.
I don't know if birth mom is the right term.  How should I say that?
She didn't shy away from my question.  She told me that she thought the term birth mom was derogatory, insinuating that she only gave birth and nothing more.  As if this amazing woman were merely an incubator or baby oven.  She suggested plain ol' mom.  It was so simple.  She is a mom after all.  She always will be.  She also suggested being called first mom.  And I did.
First mom in the chair next me.  Another mom holding sweet baby in the kitchen just yards away.  Two moms in one room and one family grown in an unconventional way.  And a blessing to witness it all.
We talked a little.  About adoption.  About what China is like.  About the lack of diversity in our neighborhood.  Small talk.

And then it was time to not overstay our welcome.  As we were leaving, I told first mom that it really was an honor to meet her.  I wanted to say it 10 times over and over and over so she'd know how big it was to me.  And we said our goodbyes and hugged our hugs.  And left.  And I walked away from this family a little changed from when I walked in.  And I was blessed to be changed.

I won't use the term birth mother again.  I think I'll use the term "first mother" from here on out.  Or maybe plain ol' mom as she first suggested.  It seems appropriate.  I get it now.  This sweet woman put a face to the 3 women halfway across the world that changed our lives forever by transferring to us something so precious... a child.
First moms are amazing.
And a blessing.

(The below video was made by his new big sister!)


  1. I got to meet Kendi's first mom days before K was born, & it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I felt blessed to be able to look her in the eye & promise her to love this child with my everything & to hear her hopes & dreams for this baby. I think of her every day.

  2. Wow, thanks for sharing this special experience with us. I have to conclude that I have a very difficult time with this--knowing what name is appropriate to call the first mothers of my sons. I really think your experience has given me insight as well. I'm not going to lie though, after Big Brother's adoption, I cannot say that it would be a good thing to be able to have a relationship with his first mom. With Little Man, I would give anything to have that--anything! Just one chance, even. But the other situation is complex and well....down right hard. My secomd adoption certainly gave me some new issues to ponder, and I definitely do not see adoption the same way as when Little Man came home. Bit thanks again for sharing, we are all blessed by hearing it!

  3. We met a birthfamily while on our adoption trip this past summer. Two older sisters and the younger brother. A photo of Chairman Mao hanging on the wall of their small home set in the middle of rice paddies. Dad's weather beaten face. Grandma's work worn face. They worried about the fate of that little girl. Was she okay? Healthy? Happy?
    That family did not belong to us but to hear and see that worry and concern first hand was powerful. I may not have been able to tell one of our birthfamilies thank you or reassure them that their daughters' are loved but I was blessed with that glimpse into their world as they were given a glimpse into the world of international adoption.
    We have chosen to use the term birthfamily because that was the politically correct term when we did our first adoption and it eldest daughter is comfortable with it. We have been struggling with the term foster mom and dad. Yes they did foster you and oddly enough for Shangrao you only had the one set but it seems to be even more of a mouthful than birthmom. Should we use China mom? But then that negates that there really is a China mom out there.
    Each adoption is unique as is each child so the questions and issues raised by our journies will never be done. What works for one family or child won't for another.

  4. This is beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing and for helping us to see the bigger picture. I'm ashamed to admit that I struggle between grateful and harsh thoughts about our sons' first mothers. My head nor my heart can reconcile it. Mostly I fight to think well of Seth's...but at the end of the day, I sigh and let go, knowing that in all things, our God is good. Thanks again, beautifully written.

  5. So very precious. I am forever changed...

  6. YES, ME TOO...Thanks for you sharing this, get us APs into the otherside we can't or don't see! Sweet little thing he is....hugs

  7. Wow - kind of leaves me speechless - and that says something eh?

    hugs - aus and co.

  8. I just wrote a post about this same thing. We adopted from foster care here in Georgia. My daughter was abandoned and we know meeting her first mom isn't an option. Part of me is thankful for that and part of me mourns for my daughter. My son's case was long and hard and we met the first parents almost monthly for over a year. It was frustrating and difficult. Rights were terminated after 18 months of having to watch her pretend she was his mother. It was rough. Open adoption would be hard. Very hard.


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