My children grew inside of their first mothers. Then, they were born. Then they had hours or days with their first mothers before each woman signed away their right to parent. Then I became a mother. Becoming a mother was instinctual, and it was also a clunky and unnatural way to become a mom.
Clunky and unnatural is a nice way of saying, I did some ugly things.
I didn’t want her to hold him. I wanted the maternity ward nurses to keep him in the nursery. She simply wanted to see him and feed him. I hope she did. I remember being angry and worried that he would spend the night in her room instead of the nursery when we went back to our hotel. What was I so scared of? I denied physical contact and connection to his first mother.
She asked to hold him at one point after papers were signed when her family came to the hospital.
I said no.
I had my reasons.
There were so many visitors.
There were runny noses.
I didn’t know anyone.
I wanted a moment alone with my child.
The shift of what happened with that signature. I was now a mother. I pounced on motherhood. Like most things, I wanted to be in control. It was MY turn. Months and months of waiting, I grabbed my title and took that power. How ugly. How instinctual. These are the things I’m not proud of. These are the truths of my privilege that highlight some of the (many) flaws that exist in the adoption process.
Like all things, thank God, we are capable of change, of doing better, of evolving, and of growing less selfish.
We had a tough few days. I didn’t want to see her again. I wanted it to just be us.
When she left the hospital without telling us, when I found the empty hospital bed, I felt the first deep sense of sadness. I was shocked by my tears and my fear that we were losing her forever. That was the first moment of loving her as my child’s first mother not as the vessel who brought my child to me.
I missed her. I didn’t know I cared for her in such a way, but I did.
Far from perfect, I can report that I handled myself a bit better with the second time. When we met Desi he was in his birth mothers arms. She asked if I wanted to hold him, showing me what grace in motherhood looks like.
I can attest that there’s nothing like a mother’s instinct. As an adoptive mom, sometimes that instinct has to be told otherwise if it means allowing my child moments and connection with their first mothers. Wanting to say, “you’re holding him wrong”, or “no, that’s not what he said”, or “if you tickle him on the left said that’s how you’ll get a REAL laugh” needs to be quieted. That's not an easy one for me. It’s wanting to show off my incredible beautiful child to the women who knows them in an intimate way that will never be mine. That’s okay. I am learning to move aside and let that other instinctual connection, between child and birth mother blossom, without me trying to control what it will be.
Watching my children get bigger and build relationships with their first mothers is awesome and yes, hard and difficult. I wish I was stronger and could only tout the good and the beautiful, and I promise you it is all of those things, but it can also be more hard than beautiful on occasion.
Adoption continues to be the greatest teacher (besides my own mom) in my life. It has taught me that real "mother’s instinct" isn’t about acting fast on an innate impulse, it’s about feeling the hard stuff, experiencing the nerves, and putting yourself aside if it means giving your child the opportunity to grow and flourish and fly.
To Rory and Desi, fly high, okay? Mama is here and so are your tummy mommies. ️