My son is two and a half now. At daycare, they always do little holiday themed crafting projects. So, for example, I brought home a brown painted pumpkin (orange and green mixed!) at Halloween. For future reference – never give a toddler complimentary colored paints unless you want a brown painting. 😀

I remember making these types of things throughout my childhood and years later wondering why my mom had held on to them.

Up until this point, my son has not showed much interest in the projects he was sent home with, and I haven’t kept them. Sometimes I wonder – am I a horrible person? Should I be saving and treasuring all of these things? And now I know the answer.

At two and a half, my son is old enough now to get the concept of giving. He has given me this Mother’s Day gift like six times over the past 24 hours. Last night, after dinner, I was in the living room and he came barreling in holding this picture, climbed up on the couch, and declared, “Mom! This is for you! I helped make it! It says, I love you into pieces.” 

Ok kid. You got me. This one stays.

Growing up, I didn’t really understand why my own mom kept so many not-very-good art projects I had given to her until this moment. Now I get it. It’s not about the project. It’s about the pride, and the connection. It’s about the sparkle in his eyes. It’s about his growing understanding, and connection. It’s about the joy and complexity in that memory.

In honor of Mother’s Day, I am sharing my story of becoming an adoptive mom through 20 questions.

1. How old were you when you child came home to you?
34

2. How old was your child when they came home to you?
2 days

3. Where were you when you were told you were a mother?
That’s a tough one… is this the first time someone said “You’re going to be such a great mom” when they found out we were waiting, and I thought “hmm… ‘Mom’” trying it on for size? Or is it the day Chad came home from work early to sit on the couch with me, look into my eyes, and tell me he wanted to say yes to our little boy? Or two and a half weeks later, when we were both sleeping and the phone rang to tell us that his birth Mama was at the hospital? Well, if none of those, maybe it was the text less than an hour later with a photo of a pink little face and the news that he was born! Yet still, adoption makes things complicated. He was still in the arms of his birth Mama. Were we both mothers at that point? Or did it not shift until two days later when he was placed into my arms at the hospital? Did it shift? Because now my son has me, his Mama, and he also still has his birth Mama. The truth is, the first time I was TOLD that I was a mother isn’t something that sticks in my mind. When did I know it? Probably when we made the choice to say, “Yes”.

4. How long were you searching?
We made the decision to start the process in Fall, 2010. A series of events followed including the advice from multiple agencies that we would look better to birth families if we were married. So we got married in Spring 2011. We spent the next year researching, and the summer of 2012 completing paperwork. Fall of 2012 we finally officially got in the waiting pool. Two and a half years had passed already. We said “yes” to our son two years later, in November, 2014.

5. Was it painful? Uh. yeah. There’s no painless path to parenthood.
Pain with adoption is an ongoing ache. The love, luckily for us all, outweighs it by a landslide.

6. Did you lose any children?
We were called to interview with birth families twice over the two years we were in the waiting pool. Both times we had to hear that the family had chosen another family for their child. This is not the same as losing a child through miscarriage or death, but it’s our version I suppose.

7. Where did you adopt from?
Our son was born in Springfield, Oregon

8. How much did you miss?
This is such a leading question. In my opinion, we haven’t missed a thing.

9. Was it really weird to fill out a form indicating what you could and could not consider in a child?
It was. At first we struggled with it. Over time, though, you come to understand that when you say “I am not ready for this challenge” you are giving a gift to that child of finding someone who IS ready to support them fully. And you’re giving a gift to that family, as well, because they will find their child just that much sooner.

10. Did you care what gender or age they were?
We didn’t care about gender. We did choose to adopt an infant over an older child. Which took us a while for the reasons mentioned above. We made the right choice for our family.

11. When did you meet them?
November 23, 2014. My 34th birthday.

12. What was their first day home like?
We got home mid-day and basically just did what we could to learn how to care for our first infant. I imagine it was similar to many parents’ first day home!

13. Were you suddenly on a different planet?
The adoption process is unique, in that you’ve got an eventuality with no timeline. When you’re pregnant, you have a count down clock. It could be plus or minus a few weeks but not more than a couple of months. With adoption, it could be tomorrow or 3 years from now. So you do one of two things – you freak out or you numb yourself. I numbed myself. So bringing home an infant was interesting… I had been so practiced at settling emotions that I felt pretty calm, but it was definitely another planet. The great thing is that since we both had time off from work, the planet included all of us and no other agenda.

14. What did you crave?
Sleep. Connection.

15. How many pounds did you gain?
None

16. Do you have contact with their birth families?
Yes. We’ve met 3 of my son’s 4 half-brothers and their caretaker, and although we haven’t met them we’re in contact with his birth mother and her mom (his birth grandmother). His birth grandmother is very involved in keeping tabs on him and loves him like any other grandchild. It’s beautiful to be a part of this messy web of love.

17. Is it ever awkward?
Yes. But what in life isn’t?

18. Is it worth it?
I almost deleted this question. Worth WHAT? Is a child worth caring for? Is my life worth sharing? I can’t think of a single way to interpret this question that isn’t ridiculous.

19. Did you change their birth names?
His birth mom decided not to give him a name. She said that she didn’t want to place that attachment. Initially, we had been planning to wait to finalize his name until we met him. But she wanted to know what we had chosen so she would know what to call him. A few days prior, we had sent her a list of our top 5 names. We wanted to allow her to help in naming him, especially by telling us “No” if any of the names we chose had negative associations for her or were just names she didn’t care for. So we had our limited list to work from. We spent a couple hours shifting expectations and then effortlessly settled on the name Emmett. Somehow it seemed obvious. We gave him the name Christopher to honor his birth mama, whose name is Christa. We were too late for the birth certificate, though, so technically yes. He was “Baby Boy Ward” on his birth certificate.

20. How old is your baby today?
two and a half

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