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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

On the Outside

Two Fridays ago, as I dropped off yet another immigration packet update at our agency, I stumbled into an adoption placement. The director of my agency and I shared smiles during the paperwork hand-off as a young couple became parents for the first time, just a few feet from me. During my brief, two-minute visit, I watched the faces of those standing in the room, so filled with joy and hope, absolutely awe-struck while gazing at this three-month-old infant. My heart filled with the wonder of the moment, especially as I flashed back to the hotel ballroom where I became a momma to the Tongginator.

It sounds cliche to say this, but my heart swelled with love while I watched this young, brand-new momma gently take this sleepy infant into her arms for the first time.

After a few seconds of silent observation, I quietly shut the office door behind me, then stood with my back to the door, absorbing the unexpected moment and storing away the memory. I felt privileged to view such a life-changing event. Then I smiled and walked out to my car, with - I must admit - an added spring to my step. When I climbed into the driver's seat, I noticed another woman directly across the parking lot, fiddling with something inside her car.

She was crying... sobbing, really.

I paused and watched as she removed an infant carrier from her car's backseat and placed it in the boot. Tears streamed down her face as she shut the trunk, then braced herself against her car for a few minutes while the tears flowed.

A moment in time - so fraught with joy inside the four walls of the adoption agency and so filled with loss outside of the building. I'm not sure whether this woman was the child's first mother or a foster mother, but I know that she felt tremendous love for that infant. And a tremendous sense of loss as she said her goodbyes.

The tears streaming down her face told the story. And it's not one I will soon forget.

46 comments:

Sherri said...

Oh, TM, I have had a similar experience many many years ago, before adoption was a thought in my head.

My sister was an adoption case worker for an agency, and she took me along with her when she was completing an adoption. I was 8 1/2 months pregnant with my second child. I will never forget the tears of the birth mother and her family, and the tears of joy for the adopting parents. It almost is too sacred to write about, you know?

It's a life changer, that's for sure.

Aunt LoLo said...

I have learned more about adoption, and fairness, and every story having two sides, in the year that I've been reading your blog than I have in my other 26 years combined. I just never thought about it much before. My family was close to adopting a little girl when I was a child, but it was a different scenario. (One of my father's employees was pregnant out of wedlock, and was contemplating abortion. My father felt strongly enough about abortion to sit her down and tell her he would pay every expense, every medical bill, if she would carry the baby to term and let him raise it, rather than abort the child. In the end, she kept the baby.)

This is a BEAUTIFUL story, TM...and one that will stick with me, as well.

Dawn said...

How awesome that God allowed you to see both sides of the event!

Blessings!

Heather of the EO said...

Wow. Just WOW. It doesn't sound cliche to me that your heart swelled with love, what a powerful moment.

And then the parking lot. So heart-breaking, the letting go. Life. So hard and so beautiful all at the same time.

This was a beautiful post, lady.

Stonefox said...

Wow. That is so powerful, I'm not sure what to say. Just wow.

Pug Mama said...

OMG.
how emotional.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

How beautiful.
Two loving generous moms.
I'll be thinking of this story all day.

Jboo said...

Beautiful post - thanks for sharing.

Janet

monica said...

Isn't it amazing how an ordinary day can become extraordinary just by paying attention, by living fully in the moment and bearing witness to the full range of life's joys and sorrows. You were meant to be there at that time, on that day, to have your heart broken wide open by the lives of strangers...Thanks for sharing. Monica

Gail said...

And behind all the joy for someone is so much sadness for another.

Beautiful post TM, thank you. :)

Wanda said...

And isn't that the story of our lives too. Only you got to witness the other side up close. Wow, powerful!

PS. Ahem....you wrote this at 4 AM. Do you sleep?

Donna said...

Tears. Now I have them too. They look the same and they taste the same but they sure can mean different things, huh.

Thanks for sharing this little snippet of your day. So many times we just go about our business and don't notice what huge life changing events are happening around us. Maybe from now on I'll try harder to pay closer attention.


Donna
Our blog: Double Happiness!

Patricia/NYC said...

Ok...talk about crying...now I am too after reading this absolutely beautiful post...

The very fact of our lives...what has brought us so much indescribable joy, has also brought such sadness to someone else. Kiara's birthparents are always in my prayers.

Thanks for sharing your witness to both sides...

Juliette said...

Thanks for reminding us that our joy comes from the loss of 2 other people.
We so often don't acknowledge it and take everything for granted.

mama d said...

Two beautiful threads in life's colorful tapestry ... thank you for sharing.

Janet said...

Oh. I would be crying like crazy over both of those scenes. Oh, that makes me so happy for the new parents....and so sad for the woman in the car.

The Wade's said...

Wow. I never thought about that side of adoption before. I can't even imagine.

Thank you for sharing...

Myrnie said...

I think birth mothers are some of the bravest and most selfless people in the world. What a sacred and emotional experience.

jen@odbt said...

TM - beautiful post...so well said. I won't forget it myself.

Kimberly said...

This brought me to tears, too. For all the joy of adopting a child, there is so much pain too. We cannot forget this... thanks for sharing your story.

mumma to many said...

yes I have to agree a lovely story and it is interesting that you saw both sides how often do we rush to finish up a job to only have missed the blessings we should have seen!
Hugs Ruth in NZ

Soliloquy said...

How can the heart be both resilient and fragile at once??

I'm moved by the sacrifice of both mother's for the sake of one child....

delucchi family said...

Oh my, so heartfelt, so much to think about. Great post.
Love Jules
xxx

Shawnstribe said...

oh my goodness, i can't imagine what she was going through.
What heartache, wrenching pain.
and on the otherside...so much joy.
TM i'm sure you were privileged to see this for a reason, i'm sure you will help someone someday!
xxx
s

gretchen from lifenut said...

Thanks for sharing this experience. Joy and sorrow, witnessed in a matter of minutes---if that's not life, I don't know what is...

Tonggu Grammy said...

I think that God gave you BOTH those moments in time so that your heart would swell and make you once again treasure your joy when you met the Tongginator. It comes at a time when you have waited FOREVER for your next referral and had to go through yet another Home Study. God is just having you wait for the perfect match just as what you witnessed was a perfect match. In His time and in His perfect love for you and your family you, too, will experience that poignant moment of introduction and farewell.

Paragraphein said...

This is a lovely post, thank you for sharing your experience. It was beautifully written, too. And thank you for validating the "outside" perspective.

Some of the comments here are a little grating though. I am sure no one meant them that way, positive of that, but I hope that anyone reading about the "outside" perspective will continue to read about it, here and elsewhere, to continue to learn about the "other" perspective.

Cheers.

Nicole

Heather said...

It makes me so sad that the woman in the parking lot, whoever she was, was alone in that moment.

Michelle said...

What perspective, TM. Such joy and such sorrow at the very same moment.

Carla said...

Wow, what an incredibly emotional day you had. I know if I were to experience the "inside" meeting that I would immediately go back to when Katie was placed in my arms and all those emotions.

But then, to go outside and see the reminder of the other side of the adoption. To see the side of loss so visibly, so heartbreaking. I have tears of joy for the new mother and tears of sadness for the loss of the other mothers in that adoption. Just as I have tears of sadness for Katie's other mothers.

Lisa (Briana's Mom) said...

Gosh - what a bittersweet experience. So wonderful for the new parents and so gut wrenching for the woman. This is a story I won't forget reading.

Sharie said...

I have no words - I can't even read other comments. Mother's Day is hard to celebrate knowing that somewhere across the world is a mother living without her beautiful daughter, so that I can experience the wonder of her in my life.

Misty said...

i agree w/ aunt lolo in that i've learned more reading your blog and those you connect to than i have even ahving been adopted by my stepdad and knowing other adopted kids.
2nd, what monica said .... wow. so beautiful.
3rd, i also hope that ppl don't just see this as a "beautiful" story. it's a joyful and painful one, and i am not even sure it's supposed to match up evenly and make a whole lot of sense. but i'm still oddly glad you got to witness it.
hugs.
still praying for you and your situation, hope things are going well.

Mei-Ling said...

"I think birth mothers are some of the bravest and most selfless people in the world."

Is it really that hard to imagine a woman having no choice but to resort to relinquishing her child?

Why do so many people believe there was 'choice' involved? Why do so many people not understand just how badly and broken and helpless a woman has to feel in order to comprehend the fatality of giving up her flesh-and-blood?

I don't understand.

Kayce said...

Tears here...lots. You continue to educate me and bring emotions out of me I've tucked so far away...thank you.

mom said...

How sad. I wish people wouldn't look at this as beautiful but as a tragedy. It is never beautiful when a mother and child are seperated. Can you imagine being in the "birth moms" shoes. How do you think you would feel? Would you feel just peachy knowing other people were calling this a beautiful experience. This isn't. This is a tragedy and we need to work more to make sure mother's and children are not seperated.

prechrswife said...

Tears here, too...

Mei-Ling said...

"It is never beautiful when a mother and child are seperated."

Exactly.

It may have been a "necessary evil" in the view of society and perhaps the adoptive parents, but that will never indicate it is just OK.

cedartrees said...

My heart breaks for that mother crying in the parking lot. No mother puts herself through this type of pain "by choice." It comes down to her feeling that she has no other choice.

Legal child adoption was created to provide homes for unloved and unwanted babies. This mother obviously loved and wanted her baby, and it broke her heart to have to lose her child.

If you see tears on the face of a mother who is surrendering, ask her why she is doing this. Ask her why she feels she must give away her baby to others. What is she saving her baby from? Why is she not being given the support she needs to raise her child?

Her tears, her trauma, are evidence that she is performing an act that is NOT by choice. Otherwise, if it were voluntary, there would be NO tears, no loss, no grief, no regrets. That is the true test of whether a mother is being forced and coerced into surrendering a baby she loves and wants. Otherwise, we would walk away unscathed.

“Adoption is not about unwanted babies — it is about unwanted mothers.”

Anonymous said...

I just don't understand how we got to be a point where we think the seperation of a mother and child is good and we call it beautiful. We just sound so calous. So focus on those who can't have children instead of the mother. We are not heading in a good direction.

anymommy said...

Thanks for this post. It's a lot to think about, the joy and pain take your breath away.

Patty O. said...

Wow, this post made me cry. I can't believe how difficult it has to be for birth mothers and foster moms to give up their kids. Heartbreaking.

Colleen said...

This post was one that every adoptive parent should read. Great post. So happy but yet so sad : (

As for anonymous I don't think that anyone was referring to a mother and child being separated as beautiful. I think they meant the post itself was beautifully written.

I would of been bawling after witnessing that poor woman in the parking lot. I have always felt in my heart that my girls bm loved my girls so much that she did what she felt was best for them. That's just how I feel.
Adoption is a self-less act.

Keep writing TM you always make me think : )

Cassi said...

Thank you for this post and for how you show the two different sides with such emotion and understanding.

Though I can still clearly remember those moments after placing my son in his amom's arms and walking out of the nursery with my baby, your post made me think of my own mom.

She was always there for me for everything I ever went through and yet on that day when I had to say goodbye forever to my son, she couldn't do it. She couldn't go inside the hospital and watch her daughter place her grandson in someone else's arms.

She instead was that woman crying in the parking lot. It was her tears and grief passerbys saw just as you saw the grief of the other woman. Though they probably never knew the reason for my mom's pain, like you they were witness to my mom's worst grief - losing her grandson.

The Gang's Momma said...

Thank you for sharing this. It would have been so much easier to glance and walk by, without a further thought. But you took it in, felt it with both of the crying women, and processed it in a way that made me feel it too. This is why I keep coming back here.

This was beautiful. Thank you.

a Tonggu Momma said...

I am so, so sorry, Cassi.