I owe all I am to my mother. The woman who raised me. Dried my tears. Attended my dance recitals. Cheered for me at my sporting events. Held my hand when I placed my first daughter for adoption. Helped me get into my wedding dress. She was even my nurse when I brought my twin girls into the world. She has done it all.
Did she give birth to me? No, but she has done everything else. My mother has always worked outside of our home while I was growing up. She is a labor and delivery nurse at our local hospital. Even with a full time job and church commitments, she made time for me and my activities. She is the glue that holds our family together. She has been there in my darkest hours: through the pain of an unplanned pregnancy at 21 years old, to my happiest days of getting married and the birth of my twin girls. She is a true family woman. I asked my mom, Barbara, to answer some questions about adoption and her experience with adopting me and this is what she had to say.
How has adoption touched your life?
Adoption has touched my life as the mother of a daughter who we received through the miracle of birth through another woman. I don’t think of my daughter as adopted, I see her as my daughter received from my Father in Heaven just as he sent me my other three children. She came to us as a gift to raise up to Him and give her love, care, and guidance through her life in the family that my husband and I chose to make.
What led you and your husband to adoption so many years after raising your last child?
I love children and the privilege of mothering. As a young mother, I made a decision that I couldn’t bring any more children into our family, thinking three was all I could handle. As I matured I realized I could have “handled” more children, but my earlier decision to close that door was a permanent one that couldn’t be fixed without going into great debt. So as I desired to mother more children, we went through adoption to bring more children into our family.
Can you describe holding your baby Jori for the first time?
When we were given a choice of babies to adopt we looked for the baby that we thought was the one sent to us from Heavenly Father. First we looked at a biography of Jori and five other children and decided together that it was Jori who was meant to be in our family. The agency gave us a time to meet with Jori (for an hour) to make sure she was the one. We were able to hold her and “check her out.” She was considered a “high-risk” adoption because of her extreme prematurity. We didn’t need to meet her in person to know she was ours. It was extremely hard to let her go. When we finally got to pick her up and take her home it was no different than when we took our first three children home from the hospital. We knew she was meant to be ours. Our hearts were full of love and devotion to her from the very beginning. No matter what was to come from her extreme prematurity we knew that we would care for her for a lifetime.
Did your daughter always know she was adopted? If so, how did she feel/say about it? Was she ever treated any different?
We were encouraged from the adoption agency to teach Jori that she was adopted from a very young age. She was brought up with the knowledge that she was adopted, complete with the story of her adoption and our feelings about her coming into our family. I didn’t want her to have any feelings that she was different from our other children because she was adopted. I don’t even like to think of her as adopted. I think of her as my daughter. Adopted daughter never enters my mind unless it is brought up.
What was it like for you to have your daughter reunite with her birth mother?
I knew it was important to Jori that she find her birth mother, so I supported her. She would bring it up when she was an adolescent, and I always told her that when she was older that we would search if that need was still there. Then when she became pregnant and placed her own baby for adoption, she felt an even stronger need to find her birth mother. I tried to put myself in her place so that I could understand. It was hard at times, though. I had to fight feelings that I didn’t fill her need as a mother. I had a friend who was adopted, and she told me that she had no desire to find her birth mother. Her adopted mother was her mother. So there were times when I would doubt that our relationship as mother/daughter was strong enough to fill any hole that she may have knowing she was adopted. When she found her birth mother, I was happy that she was happy. I wasn’t sure what that would mean to our relationship and maybe having to share my daughter with someone else, but she was happy, so I continued to support her.
Even though your daughter is biracial like the rest of your children, have you ever received any negative responses when speaking to people about her adoption?
Never, ever was anything ever said that was negative about us adopting Jori. I can’t imagine anyone ever saying anything negative. She was the perfect fit in our family. She even looked like her siblings.
What message would you tell other about your view of adoption and raising an adoptive child?
I am very grateful to birth mothers who have the courage to place their babies for adoption. I can only imagine the pain that comes with that decision as I saw it in my own daughter when she placed her baby for adoption. And I can see the importance of the birth mother knowing that her child is growing up happy and well. I think each adoption has its own special circumstances and needs for the birth mother, child, and family who adopts the child. Everyone involved just needs to think of the needs of the others to assure happiness and peace to all. It is because of the love that I have for my daughter that I supported and continue to support her in her endeavors to have a relationship with her birth mother. I am so grateful that she is my daughter and we have had all these years together and that she is my daughter forever.
My mother has always answered every question I have ever had about my adoption story and my biological family as honestly and openly as she could. I will always love her for that. She is my best friend and inspiration. She is Superwoman. She does it all. She puts her husband, four children, and 16 grandchildren above all else. She is my greatest role model. I hope to become just half of what she is for me.
Look forward to Part III: My Daughter’s Adoptive Mother and Adoption coming next.
“He felt like mine from the moment I first laid eyes on him” -The Odd Life of Timothy Green