Friday, March 11, 2011

Meeting My Babies

Unlike most Moms, I cannot recount in detail, or even in generalities, the birth stories of half of my children.

And while I can blame my faulty memory on many of the black holes in my life, the integrity of my memory has nothing to do with the void in my brain where a beautiful story should reside.

The stories are not there simply because I never experienced them. I did not conceive, carry in my body, or deliver three of my children. That leaves me with an emptiness that aches. I never got to place my hand on my belly to feel them swimming and kicking and searching for elbow room. I never got to kiss their sweet tiny fingers or inhale their baby essence.

However,to be fair, I must mention that I have, in exchange, something most mothers do not. Meeting my babies for the first time took place when they were no longer infants, but people. People with thoughts and questions and dreams and the confusion of their emotions all swirling around.

And these meeting stories, as opposed to birth stories, are monumentally sacred to me, and just as special as the birth stories of my three biological children.

I thought I would share...

Meeting Bella
"Will you tell me a story?"
"What kind of a story?"
"About the day I first met you."
"You're not too tired?"
"No, no, no. Please tell it?"
"Well, OK. If you're sure ...
"Many years ago, you lived on the other side of the world in Kazakhstan, in a big building called the Detsky Dom, which means Children's Home. You lived there with many other children, and the caregivers, which the children called Mamas. Now, these children were all different ages, all different colors and shapes and sizes. But there was one thing you all had in common. None of you had a family of your own. Sure, you had food a-plenty, and things to do and lots of children to play with. You had warm clothes and tights and shoes to wear, even if sometimes the shoes were too small or had holes where your toes would peek out to see what was going on."
"But every once in awhile you would have to say goodbye to one of the children, because a new Mama and Papa wanted them to be part of their family. You didn't know why the children were chosen by these Mamas and Papas. Did they choose Anastasia because she had beautiful long blond hair and eyes blue as ice? Did they choose Peter because he was so good at marbles and had that smile that made you smile right back?
You wondered if maybe a Mama and Papa would one day come for you, but you worried because you didn't think your teeth were pretty and you didn't like your short brown hair and the other kids teased you sometimes and said you talked funny.
So you watched the Mamas and Papas come and go, and you said goodbye to many children over the years, but still you waited and you wondered and you dreamed.

Then one day, one of the caregiver Mamas gave you some news. She told you that a Mama was coming to the Detsky Dom. She was coming to see you because she wanted you to be her daughter. At first you didn't believe her. You thought she must have meant Katarina with the beautiful braids. But she assured you, she meant you. Natasha. The Mama would be coming in the morning.
That night was the longest of your life. Your brain had so many questions that it didn't know the answers to, so sleep was impossible. What would your Mama look like? What would she smell like? Would she be soft? How would her hair feel in your fingers? Maybe she was a princess and wore a sparkly crown. Maybe she was .........................
and you fell asleep at long last.

When morning came, you were out of bed while the other children were all still deep asleep. You snuck quietly to the window and sat there, looking out, staring intently at the place where cars come in off the street, so you would be sure to see your new Mama the minute she got there.
Sometime during the morning one of the Caregiver Mamas came in to get you dressed. She slipped over your head a fancy red dress, all ribbons and lace. She smoothed and brushed your hair and made it pretty as could be with a white bow that was big as your head. She gave you clean white socks and pretty buckle shoes (that were, ouch, too tight).
As soon as she was done, you went right back to your spot at the window. You waited there and watched there all morning, for hours and hours.

Finally the Caregiver Mama told you it was time. She took you by the hand and led you out of your group room, along the hall, down the stairs, and through a whole lot of hallways till you came to the Director's office. Without hesitating, she sent you right in, with a little nudge at the top of your back. A few steps inside the door you stopped, frozen with uncertainty.

There, across the room, sitting in a chair by the Director's desk, was your new Mama.

She was wearing a long flowy skirt and she had long, flowy hair. She smiled at you, and her eyes got all watery. You smiled back, but didn't move from your spot by the door.
Valentina, the Director, told you to come over and say hello to your Mama, then told the Mama that you were shy. Then another lady that you didn't know said something to the Mama in funny words that you didn't understand.
When you still didn't move, all the grown-ups went back to talking, but the Mama kept looking back at you and smiling. After a few minutes you began to take steps towards the Mama. She was listening to the other grown-ups, but now and then would look over her shoulder at you and smile some more.
You liked that smile. You took more steps. You were almost close enough to reach out and touch her. A little closer and you were standing right there beside her. She looked at you, and put her arm around your shoulder, and gave you a little pat.

You didn't realize you had been holding your breath, but now you let it out like a wind. Moving ever so slowly, you kind of backed yourself up till you were sitting right in the Mama's lap. She put both arms around you now, and started stroking your hair, and rocking gently back and forth. You reached out to feel her hair, and it was as you imagined, soft as silk.
You lay your head down on her shoulder and ran your little fingers through her hair, top to bottom and back again, over and over. When you looked back at the Mama's face again you saw it wasn't just her eyes that were watery. Her whole face was sloppy wet as tears washed her cheeks.

But somehow this didn't make you scared. Though it seemed too crazy a notion to be true, she was crying because she was happy that she was your Mama. Not a Caregiver Mama, not a princess Mama, but the best kind of Mama, a Real Mama. She was yours and you were hers and could this really be true? Someone out there in the world beyond the Detsky Dom, someone wanted you, Bella, over all the other children here and in the wide world.

Like spring rains seep into the dry ground to bring new life to the sleeping flowers, this thought that this Mama wanted you and loved you began to seep into your skin and into your bones and into your soul.

And as you sat on her lap, with her rocking you back and forth and humming a quiet little song in you ear, and stroking your hair and your back with her warm hands, you knew you had found Mama.

And that Mama was Home."

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alphamama said...

This is just lovely, Anne! You made me cry...

kris said...

Oh wow.

This is just the best "Meeting My Baby" story I have ever ever read. That you told it all from your daughter's perspective as you are telling it to your daughter?

That is just perfect.

Such a moving beautiful story of a real Mama and a real daughter.

I have shivers of happiness that you have this story. That you shared this story. Thank you.

This was just what I needed this evening.

Thank you.

Lou Ann said...

Thank you for sharing this. My soon to be 5 year old daughter was adopted from Kaz at 14 months and she has just started asking for "The Mommy & Lexie Story." Every time I tell it to her she'll ask for a new detail or if I miss a part, heaven forbid, she will jump in to remind me of it. So even children adopted before they really have memories of that previous life still need that feeling of being born to someone. Do your bio kids ever ask about their births? I don't have any so I wonder.

I've been following your blog since before you traveled for James & Julie and I look forward to your "meeting" stories with them. Your perseverance and unwavering love for the little 8 year old boy who clearly touched your soul, has been an inspiration to me ever since I first stumble onto your blog shortly after I returned home with my Lexie. Thank you for your honesty and wit. I'm glad you've started blogging more (and moving up the ranks of Mommy Bloggers where you belong:-) as I look forward to reading your posts every day.

Lou Ann

Lori @ Five of My Own said...

This NEEDS to be a chlordane book. This very post should be your first BOOK.

Omg anne if I could only vote a thousands times to show you how this moved me.

Unknown said...

This is so touching. And beautifully written. Thank you for this glimpse of your story. And WOW, do I ever wish that I could be a fly on the wall when your children read this. (But not in the creepy way!.) This was fabulous!

Blue Moon Girl said...

This is absolutely beautiful! I loved this! I love the way you told it from your daughter's perspective. Such a happy and lovely memory for both of you.

Here from Pretty All True!

Adrienne Jones said...

Oh, my. Thank you.

The Sweetest said...

By the time little Natasha had moved to the window to watch for you, I was a blubbering mess. Oh, such happy tears! Thanks to Kris for sharing your beautiful writing with us.

Anonymous said...

This speaks to me because I also was chosen to be someone's child instead of being born to them.

And I have always felt special.

And I am so happy you have beautifully convinced Natasha that she is special as well.

Sarah said...

here from pretty all true as well.....what a beautiful story! thanks for sharing it!

Jessica said...

What a beautiful, beautiful story. How lucky you both are.

Anonymous said...

Hopped over from Pretty All True. What a beautiful story.. You brought tears to my eyes! So gorgeous.

Anonymous said...

I love this.

I found you via Kris where she somehow thought my post was of the same caliber as this one - I'm a little confused (and still in shock she picked me too).

This story is amazing and demonstrative of the person you are - of the mother you are.

I love how you told it from her eyes to start, and I was there, with the looked over little girl who was finally getting a momma.

Such love. I'm so glad Kris featured you.

Alex@LateEnough said...

Thank you for this. I'm so happy you found each other.

Tish said...

Sent here from Pretty All True. Lovely story. Both my boys are adopted - it's incredible how you tumble headlong in love with them.

4texans said...

Oh excellent, I love this. Bravo, I wonderful post! And I agree, this should be a book!

Anonymous said...

This was incredibly beautiful.

Thank you for sharing.

livingsj77 said...

This is so beautiful. Oh you made me cray. What a wonderful way to welcome your daughter. I love this.

Visiting from Pretty All True

Nichole said...

What a breathtakingly beautiful story.
I am so grateful that you shared this with all of us.

Steel's Family Fun said...

You did a great job telling her story... My son is adopted out of foster care and he ask me to tell hin the story on how we were boring before we got him.. I love to tell that story.. And since the day we got him our lives have never been boring again.

Anonymous said...

That was lovely!

Robyn said...

I'm a wet mess now. I gave a beautiful boy up almost 24 years ago. My cousin & her husband adopted him & raised him so well. Now he is a husband & a father. All I can say is thank you so much for your meeting story, I can't explain how wonderful it was. Just think, Charlie's list of his thoughts brought me here :D

Linnea said...

Ok, a little late in the game here. That Kleenex box I had talked about in's completely empty now. My father adopted me as his own when I was five. My mom would tell me the story about my father, how he fell in love with me first, then her. The day I got to sit on the judge's lap, pointing and telling him I wanted that daddy as my forever dad was the best day of my life. My mom explained this to me from the same exact perspective you told to your Bella. I promise you she will ALWAYS remember just how special she is, that you chose her amongst all the other children. I'm 39 and my mom totally tells the story the same exact way. I know and still feel that incredibly special. Please fed ex tissue box-overnight status. I have now used the last of the back up box!!
PS: Growing up I knew that when I got married I would hyphenate my last name because my daddy chose me, he thought I was that special.
In Him,
Linnea Schamber-Bass

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