Thursday, June 7, 2012
Having just celebrated mother's day and looking forward to father's day brings the gracious gift of our daughter more sharply before me. In thinking about the gifts adoption brings, there is an odd sentiment some people express when they talk to me about Lucy's path into our family...kind, well-meaning folks remark on how "good" and "generous" Peter and I are to have "saved" Lucy from her life in Ethiopia. I understand what the complimentary intentions behind such words are, but they are so far from our reality. When we adopted Lucy, our dreams were fulfilled, and aside from the normal loss of freedom all first-time parents experience, we gave up nothing to become her parents. We received all the gifts from Lucy, from Ethiopia, from God. With Lucy, our cup continually runneth over, and we feel blessed by every kiss, every laugh, every tear she bestows on us. Yet, Lucy lost everything to become our daughter. She lost her first family, her birth country, her language, her home, her history, and her culture. We work to restore some of these losses, however imperfectly, but we know the gains she has experienced from becoming our daughter are deeply tempered by the primal losses she has experienced. Yes, I am Lucy's real mother. But in loving her, and watching her grow, I can get tears in my eyes wondering if her smile looks like her first mother's smile, or if her laugh sounds like her first father's laugh. She and i will never know. The thought of losing her fills me with terror. And I see clearly the deep loss experienced by a woman I will never know or meet. I grieve for her first mother, and for Lucy. The sad reality is that, from the child's perspective, loss is the foundation of adoption. For me, as her mother, it is all gains. I am no great gift or savior to my child. I am just as she deserves. I am what life owes her. But she is the greatest gift of my life. I didn't save Lucy, she saved me.