I don’t assume someone means ill when they thank me for saving the children I adopted or say my children are lucky to have me as their mom. I think people mean well and are genuinely trying to give me a compliment.
(By the way, I only get these comments about my black children. I don’t assume the well-
meaning person is racist. It’s just that my white children don’t appear to be adopted (some of them are not); it’s obvious my black children are. I have received similar comments from both white and black strangers. Being strangers, they really don’t know the whole story.)
I wonder what goes on in my children’s little minds hearing these words. I imagine they are thinking:
“Great, this person thinks I’m some kind of service project” or
“She doesn’t think my birth mom loved me” or
“Lucky? Easy for you to say; she doesn’t take away your screen privileges weekly. I would be lucky if Will and Jada Smith had adopted me. They look more like me, are rich and famous, and I would have a cool brother named Jaden” probably
“I hope they don’t talk too long. I want dinner.”
I can only imagine what they are thinking.
I usually say something like, “I didn’t save them, they saved me” or “I needed them more than
they needed me” or “I am so lucky to be a mother and they made that happen.” I try to get the message across to both the well-meaning stranger and to my child that I love my children. I don’t think of them as a burden I was willing to “take on.”
If I had time to tell the stranger the story of how my children saved me, how I needed them, and how lucky I am, this is the story I would tell:
My firstborn was a biological son. He was born prematurely and died in my arms 23 hours after birth. My heart was broken. I longed to be a mother. I longed for my husband to be a father.
I saw him with my nieces and nephews. He was going to be the ideal dad. Years of infertility followed that birth. I sometimes felt that my husband should have married someone else; someone who could give him the children he so badly wanted.
Four years later, we adopted our first child, a girl.
Being a mother was everything I hoped it would be. I was so happy. We both wanted a large family, so we continued trying to conceive as we simultaneously continued trying to find more children through adoption. We trusted God, believing He would lead us in one way or another to the children He wanted for us.
After a couple of miscarriages and 5 years of waiting, we were able to adopt our first black children, twin girls. They literally saved me. My heart was aching again to be a mother. I was baby-hungry. We had been married 9 years. I wanted our 5-year-old to be a big sister, not an only child. She prayed every night for her baby
sisters. She would tell me we were going to have two babies; one for her and one for me. So when the call came about twin girls, I knew God intended for them to come to us.
Having twins was a lot more work than I anticipated, but once again, I was so grateful to have a family, to be a mother to 3 beautiful girls.
Then the itch came again when the twins were about3 years old. We started to feel like there was still a child out there somewhere who was meant
to be our child. This time, the Lord led us to an orphanage in Ghana where we found our daughter. We were looking for a 5- to 7- year-old boy. We thought it would be nice to fill the age gap between our oldest and the twins and end with a boy. But God had other plans, and we knew this 4-year-old girl was the one. She is exactly one year older than our twins and was 5 by the time we completed the adoption and she joined our family. Again, she filled a hole in my heart and the need for me to be her mother.
After 15 years of infertility and miscarriages, we got our boys: two of them, a couple years apart. I needed and wanted them just as much as I needed and wanted our girls.
So, to the well-meaning stranger: “Thank you for thinking we are so great, but really we were selfish. We needed children and we found the ones Heavenly Father wanted us to have and that saved us. We are the lucky ones!”