I mentioned earlier this week that we had a birthday party for Bella and that her birthmom, Corrie, came. It was such a significant experience for me, in our journey with Bella and her birthmom, and I have wanted to post about it, but have found it so hard to write about. Hmmm...that seems to happen a lot in regards to birth parents. I guess it's because the relationship is sort of complex, and truthfully, I'm not even sure I understand what I am feeling half the time. But, it's worth a try.
So, sometime in early December I asked Corrie to consider coming to Bella's birthday party. It was an honest invitation and I really hoped she would come. But, I wasn't sure she would. Corrie has had a very emotional journey and it has been hard for her, in ways that I know I can never really understand, to deal with the reality of placing a child for adoption. I grieve for her. I pray for her. I deeply desire healing for her. But, I know I can't truly understand what she has been through.
I was surprised the weekend before when she texted me to say that she and her mom would love to come. Love to! I was so excited, and so terrified all at once. And here is why. Here is the dynamic when we get to see Corrie or her family. And...let me just say, that this dynamic is entirely created by me. All me. Because they are perfectly lovely. I feel anxiety for the following reasons: 1.) Will they think we are doing a good job with Bella? 2.) Will she behave and if she doesn't what will they think about us? (Anyone who knows Bella knows that my fear that she will be a rebellious lunatic child is completely laughable.) 3.) Will they interpret her shyness as her not liking them and then, will they think we aren't talking about them often enough or favorably enough. 4.) Do they wish, the entire time we are there, that they had never agreed to place her for adoption, that they didn't have to have this relationship with us? 5.) I must make this a memorable visit. "Go climb in her lap, Bella. Let them read you a story, Bella. Give hugs and kisses, Bella." And the list could go on and on and on. It is agonizing. And, again, it is all me. They have been so kind and so generous with their compliments and assurances of their confidence in us. They have been the ideal birth family. Seriously ideal. We are spoiled in terms of birth families.
But still, I wonder. And so, when they said they were coming, I felt glad. Really, truly glad. And also terrified. Slightly terrified. I knew it would be awesome for them to see Bella in her own element. She would be more herself and not as shy and they would really enjoy that. But, I also wondered what they would think of her element...namely our little (tiny) house and our little town. (Ugh. I am rolling my eyes at myself as I am writing this.) So, that little project I wrote about in the last post...yeah, that was done a few days prior to the party. Yes, I had planned on doing it after the first of the year and yes, I am thankful that it is done and over. But, yes, part of me was strongly motivated by the fact that Corrie and her mom were coming and everything needed to be perfect (eye roll).
The day of the party, they arrived and jumped right in. It was so lovely to have them there, meeting our friends, watching Bella play with her precious little friends, snapping pictures in the background, and enjoying Bella at her best. And I didn't have to force any memories, because they came naturally. And Corrie seemed to really enjoy herself. And that is huge.
See, I think part of the complexity of this relationship for me is that I, like every other decent person, don't like to watch those I love experience pain. And, I am painfully aware that my presence, when we are all together, causes some pain for Corrie. Who am I kidding? It's probably excruciating. I get to do what a big part of her would like to be doing. I get to be the mommy. And I can't imagine how that must feel. And so, I try desperately to make up for that fact with perfectness and memories and sweet new rooms. "Now it doesn't hurt so much, right? This awesome pink room totally makes up for the fact that I get to live life with this precious child, right?" (eye roll) It's exhausting. And, again...all created by me.
But, the day of Bella's party, somehow all of that was set aside. On that day, it felt like we were both just grateful for the role that each of us gets to play in her life. I felt totally comfortable being the mommy in front of Corrie and I felt such deep gratitude for her as I watched her and Bella make a bookmark together, their heads smooshed together so intently, and looking so similar. Nothing...nothing but gratitude for this mother who gave life to my child. And I relaxed and stopped trying to make it less messy than it is. And, when I did that, I was able to enjoy it's unique kind of beauty.
There will always be a certain amount of grief that is all tied up in adoption. I think I made that clear in this post. And, I know that it isn't my job to make it go away. I love Corrie, though, and so I know I may continue to struggle, for a while, with wanting to make it better. But, I hope that I am also learning to welcome it as a testament to how much my children are loved. I hope that, eventually, it causes them to understand the great sacrifice their birthmoms made on their behalf and that it speaks loudly to them of their great value. And mostly, I hope that it points them to the Man of Sorrows, himself. He who is well acquainted with suffering and sacrifice and who works out his good plans for us in ways that we don't always understand. Hmmm...sounds familiar...