Over the years, I have attended so many retreats, classes, and volunteer opportunities that I have written down my go-to answers for just about every ice breaker there is. I have “Tell us three things about yourself no one would know,” down to a laugh-inducing art form. I can pull something from my purse and explain why it represents me with ease. But my favorite ice-breaker question has to be, “What is the best gift you ever received?” It’s my favorite question because that is when I get to tell everyone about the moment a birth mother handed our son to me.
Although I have not seen our birth mother since that day, we have a bond that runs deep through our son. I never met my daughter’s birth mother but I know the same connection exists. “Gratitude” doesn’t begin to describe the combination of love, awe, respect and thanks we feel towards our birth parents. I know they think about the children entrusted to us every day. What most people don’t hear about is that adoptive parents think about their birth parents all the time, too. Those women made the most important choice in the world: life. They gave us the best gift ever: family.
For me it is no mere accident that both of my children’s birth mothers are Catholic. It is the respect for life so ingrained in our faith that led them to adoption. We can see the hand of God in being chosen for our children, even when they are leaving Legos all over the floor. The adoption experience has echoed my faith journey in so many ways. If you truly want to learn what it is to surrender to God, adoption is a great teacher. Our birth mother had to surrender her own will to make an adoption plan. Facing an unplanned pregnancy gives women three choices and all of them are tough. It was her faith and selflessness that led her to the path of adoption. Our part in the process was easier and involved forms, meetings, checks. As all adoptive parents know, waiting for a match or to be picked by a birth mother is the hard part for us. After all our papers were in, there was nothing we could do but believe, trust and wait. It was out of our control completely.
As I sit around our table at Thanksgiving, I don’t need to search too hard for gratitude. I am always grateful for the tangible way we experienced the Gift of Family. I am grateful for all the sacrifices that brought us together. This celebration has taken on new meaning for me now, as November is National Adoption Month and thoughts of our placements run close to the surface, as I am sure they do for our birth parents. We are family in a way most people don’t get to experience. We are joined by our children, our faith and our duty to them. We have a deeper understanding of what it means to be the adopted children of God. God is all over this. I cannot imagine our family being any other way.
Any Catholic mom who has gone through sacrament prep knows that “Eucharist” means “thanksgiving.” We get to experience thanksgiving every time we take Communion and it is one of things that unites us and make us all family in the Church. Just as we are joined to our birth parents through adoption, the Eucharist joins us together in Christ. Adoption has given me a new appreciation of what it means that God has handed His son to us. Best. Gift. Ever.