[Editor’s Note: This post is today’s featured entry in the Journey to Motherhood with Ricki Lake story contest. Find out how to submit your story and see the video message from Ricki here -- you could win a wonderful prize package! -- Jenna]
I have delivered three children: the eldest biologically and the younger two through adoption. It is true that the methods of delivery were different for each child. My oldest son, Christian, well, he was a miracle to me in that I truly never knew if I would be a mother.
I was adopted internationally as a child and so the thought of “having” a baby seemed foreign to me. When I was pregnant with him, though, it seemed as if I was meant for the experience. The pregnancy was a healthy one and on the day I gave birth to my son, I remember feeling overwhelmed with joy. I had never held anyone in my arms before whom I was connected to biologically.
In addition, the nine hours of labor (using no pain medicines) proved to me that I could achieve anything. I was giving birth to another human being, a gift to the world! I felt close to goddess status. I also realized how difficult it must have been for my own birth mother to let me go. I held my baby in my arms, he was so tender, soft, and warm. “I could never part with you.” I whispered. “How did she do it?” I asked. The only answer that came to me was that, love: real and pure, gives you the strength to think beyond your own needs and extend yourself, sometimes, in the most painful of ways.
Christian’s birth taught me to forgive.
My second child, another beautiful little boy, was waiting for me in Russia. I recall the first time we met, it was a warm day in the southern part of his native land. My husband and I flew from Moscow. We were escorted to the orphanage, which stood behind a wall with iron gate. I was nervous. So many children there in need of families. One was waiting for us. What would I feel when I first saw him?
Minutes, which seemed like hours, passed by and then the door suddenly flew open. I gasped and cried out, “Ian!” An orphanage worker walked into the room and handed my son to me. He was gorgeous! I held him up, so that I could drink him in. He looked into my eyes and began to laugh. That’s right, he cackled and giggled. I began to chuckle, as well. Then, my husband chimed in and before you knew it, the room was filled with our laughter!
Ian is just that way, a little boy bubbling over with happiness. He’s pure joy and lives life to the fullest. Ian never asks, what if I can’t? It has simply never existed in his vocabulary. He’s a “can do” kind of guy. He doesn’t know this, but I watch him daily. I take in his attitude and his primal belief in himself. It is infectious! Never boastful, only natural: he’s sweet and good.
Ian’s delivery taught me to laugh, even in the face of complete change. Just think, in Russia he was being taken from one world and plopped into another. Still, he went into the newness of his adoptive life with laughter. He hasn’t stopped to this day!
My third child, a little girl, was waiting for me in Ethiopia.
I remember the first time I saw my daughter. It was a damp and chilly afternoon, in Addis Ababa.
The roads, leading to the orphanage, were muddy from heavy rain. Puddles so large it seemed, at times, they might swallow the small car I was riding in. After some twenty-five minutes maneuvering through traffic, the orphanage was finally in sight! Once allowed through the security gate, my husband and I were taken into the family area, where we waited to meet our girl.
I rubbed my hands together and blew into my palms, warming them in preparation for this long-awaited greeting. I quickly took off my sweater and raincoat, I wanted to feel my daughter against my skin! “Tiblet,” as they called her, (meaning: Let Her Be Greater), was brought to us by her caretaker. The woman placed our baby in my husband’s arms. He, then, placed her in mine. I said, through tears, “She’s perfect!”
I meant that!
Okay, some might argue that Tiblet was actually small for her suggested 10-months of age. She was malnourished and clearly ill with heavy cough and congestion, watery eyes, and diarrhea symptomatic of parasites. Tiblet did not smell of baby powder and sweet-scented lotion. She was not clean from a fresh bath and dressed in the finest of clothes. She had been layered into several pieces of mismatched garments (most of them size 3 months), keeping her warm in the bone-chilling air.
This tiny stranger stared at my face for several minutes. Then, as if she realized her parents had finally arrived, my daughter rested her head on my shoulder and quietly nodded off to sleep. I recall, even through my own exhaustion, feeling a sense of complete and total happiness.
It’s been over one-year since we brought our little Ethiopian princess home. Now two, she is a loving and feminine force in our home. I had gone to Ethiopia to help an orphaned baby girl. In the process, she has opened up my eyes to the greatness I possess within, the greatness we all possess within. The meaning of her name was divinely inspired, I believe.
Tiblet’s delivery breathed the message: Let Her Be Greater, into my soul.
My children are from different parts of the world. They are of different race, color, and culture. Some might call us a “multi-cultural” family. I guess that’s true. Yet, in our minds, we’re simply a family. We love one another, look after one another, teach one another, and bring out the best in each other.
As a mother, when I do turn on the television, it seems that the world is very different outside of our home. Governments gunning down their own, countries using threatening tones, people damning each other because of differences, perceived or real. Political elections where dirty laundry is welcomed and not put in a hamper where it belongs. People creating lines of division, over fear, over an unwillingness to listen, to understand, to let down the walls and let love in.
Oh, if the world could only experience the beautiful blueprint of adoption! The working manuscript of family that is created, not solely through biology or nationality, but completely out of love. If society could only adopt this type of attitude, well, the world really would be a better place.
Yes, I have delivered three children. They are the most incredible people I know. They are the greatest contribution I could ever make to this world.
I watch them, together, and I believe in peace. It manifests itself right before my eyes!
Delivering my children has taught me the power of forgiveness, the power of pure joy, and the power of authentic & divinely inspired living. Perhaps, I could have learned these lessons on my own, but I highly doubt that. I was waiting on three little messengers, so happy they finally arrived!