Oh, how I do hate it when my friends suffer. This week, though, one of my pals in the Motherhood is truly suffering. A mommy who’d already fallen in love with the promise and joy of the second baby she’d hoped to adopt, and who, with her husband, had already traveled several states away to meet and cuddle and bathe and watch over this newborn little one as she slept, got her heart broken when the baby’s birth mother had a change of heart.
This can’t be happening, I thought, when she texted the news to me Wednesday night. But it was and it did.
Loss and untold grief, of the sort that can fell even the sturdiest among us, is the risk we take when we choose parenthood. Many don’t understand this at the outset, but those who pursue adoption? Like my friend and her dear husband, who’d already made room in their hearts and prepared their home and their family for this new baby? They surely do. We don’t want to think the unthinkable will ever happen, like a miscarriage, as I and so many other women have suffered, or some other grief – in this case, an adoption that doesn’t-quite-happen – but it can and it does.
No one knows what the universe has in store for these two families, or for the precious baby who stole their hearts, but I cannot help but be proud of my friend.
I admire the truly selfless way she approaches adoption, with a spirit of great love for the biological families involved. In fact, just as her heart was just breaking, and even before she surrendered this baby, she asked us to pray for strength for the baby’s mother. Wow.
Who knows what impact my friend has already had on this sweet child’s life? Or how she may already have improved it, by simply showering her steady brand of calm presence on her and her family?
This, like their first, was to be an open adoption. Perhaps without realizing it, she modeled her way of risking, loving and even mothering during the brief time they shared with this new baby’s family (who, no doubt, are going through their own intensely difficult time).
That is a huge gift to this child, whether she ever learns of it or not. This whole thing reminds me of that line in Shakespeare’s “As You Like it,” wherein the playwright posits, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”
Perhaps, though the knowledge that we might unwittingly have some cosmic role to play in each other’s lives is little comfort at a time like this. In spite of her grief, though, and the myriad other emotions she no doubt feels, my friend managed to think of this new baby first.
“Please pray that her life is good and full of the joy we wish she’ll have,” she asked.
We will, dear friend, we will. And we’ll pray the same for you. I am so moved by the love that would inspire such a sentiment, and admire the courage it took for her and her husband to risk loving in the first place.
We can never know how long we’ll be afforded the privilege of caring for the children placed in our arms, however they happen to come to us. But bearing-up under impossible, King- Solomon-esque situations and having the wherewithal to put children first, no matter the storm of grief that threatens to swallow us whole? That’s what being a mother is all about.
Author’s note: In spite of their heartbreak, this couple remains committed to adopting a second child. They know that there will always be children who need families and are certain that the child meant to join their family is out there among them.
• Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her husband, Todd, and their two children, Noah and Holly. Contact her at email@example.com.