What’s a real mom?



In the fall of 1995 we were between houses and living in an apartment complex for six months. Our daughter was six years old and was “Miss Sociality” (I doubt that was even a word back then). She knew every kid in our building and beyond. I could watch them play from our living room while they were outside.

One day I heard them running up the stairs. Amanda was at the door with about six of her new friends, all looking up at me. Then out of Amanda’s mouth came “tell them you’re my real mom”. Say what? I did NOT look like a deer in headlights. I looked like a mom standing in the middle of a desert with no library close by, no iPhone (it hadn’t been invented anyway), no computer, no adoption guru next to me. Nothing! I had not been prepared for this and no one warned me it would be coming.

I took a deep breath – a very long deep breath. If there’s one thing I had learned from teaching elementary children, it was to sometimes answer a question with a question. And I knew each of those kids had the question on their minds of whether or not I was her real mom. Later I would find out that she had told them she was adopted, and they all wanted to know where her “real mom” was. She told them I was her real mom, and that left their curious little minds questioning what she meant.

I began to ask them questions: Does a real mom change a baby’s diaper? They all nodded “yes”. Does a real mom get up in the night and take care of her sick child? Again – “yes”. Does a real mom cook dinner, feed her child, give her hugs and kisses and tell her how much she loves her child? “Yes, yes, yes…”

Then I must be a “real mom”. Enough said…. they all ran off to play.


The Application…


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What if you had to fill out a 30-50 page application prior to becoming a parent? Would you still do it? I think most people answering that question would give a resounding “yes”. When you look into those precious eyes looking back at you there is no doubt you would have moved heaven and earth to make it happen.

But would you like it? Probably not. Couples seeking to adopt are put under the microscope of the state law, the adoption agencies’ requirements and the birth parents’ obvious need to know their child will be loved and well cared for. It’s a process that makes filling out a tax form seem mundane.

When my husband and I first began to look into adoption I called anyone and everyone I could to ask questions and find out where to start. One place I knew about was Jerry Falwell’s Home for Unwed Mothers in Lynchburg, Va. I grew up in South Boston, Va. so I was very familiar with the name Jerry Falwell. My grandmother was a big fan of his.

The application was long and tedious to say the least. And this would be the first of others. In addition to answering all the questions, we had to each write an autobiography. That in itself was tedious and, even though I know myself better than anyone else, it was difficult to write about me.

But one of the questions on the application really took us by surprise. They asked us if we watched “The Old Time Gospel Hour” (a weekly program on TV with the preaching of Jerry Falwell). What? Could this really be part of the application process? We pondered for days on how to answer this one question. If we answered “yes”, we would be lying (and did it count that my grandmother watched it). And if we answered “no”, would that decrease our chances of getting a baby? We decided to go with “honesty is the best policy” approach.

Now as an adoption consultant, I work with birth mothers who are making a plan for adoption. I walk with them through the process of choosing a family for their child. They are nervous and sometimes scared about making the wrong decision. What if they choose the wrong family? They sometimes look to me for guidance. I can assure them that any family they choose will have been closely examined and assessed. Home Studies are also a part of what I do, and I know what the family has to go through in order to qualify to be an adoptive family. I like being able to look in the face of a desperate young women, looking for hope, and assure her that she is making the right choice for her and her baby.

We have been chosen twice. And just like a mother who forgets the pain of childbirth after seeing her baby, so we forget the agony of paperwork after holding our baby for the first time. It’s all worth it!


The waiting game…


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Recently, a young woman asked me a question regarding adoption and the financial risk up front. She and her husband are looking into adoption and all it involves both emotionally and financially.

Most agencies require a portion of the adoption fee once a match is made with a birth mother. If the adoption falls through, however, the money is then rolled over back into their account and the waiting game begins again. If a couple is fortunate enough not to have any financial concerns they can also sign up with another agency and strengthen their chances for an adoption.

The desire for a baby is deep within the woman’s heart and she will do whatever it takes to experience that end result of cradling a baby in her arms. It is a risk she is willing to take.

I always share two things with adoptive couples I work with. First, begin praying for your birth mother. If God has a baby for you through adoption, then He already knows the young woman who will carry that baby. Your prayers will give her the strength to make the right decisions. Second, treat it like a pregnancy. Even then there are no 100% guarantees.

So while you’re in the “waiting room”, do whatever you would be doing if you knew you were expecting – start planning…

Psalm 27:14 “Wait for The Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for The Lord.”