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The things I missed… {the heart of adoption}

Getting the email from my adoption agency to send them my son’s Certificate of Citizenship meant heading to “the sacred file”. The file, us adoption moms, store in safety boxes, in sacred places–jammed full with millions of papers it took to get our child home–and important papers with shiny stickers saying here is their new…forever.

Going through “the sacred file”–is never fast.

You start flipping…looking for that one document…and pictures fall out.

Tiny pieces of their stories.

With so many gaps in between.

I sit there reading the reports…”the” newspaper clipping that you want to hide–the last hope to find the one who brought this little miracle to the world–flipping through these papers that are just pieces of loss after loss. Their life changed forever…and yours too when you felt in your heart your family was to grow through adoption.

I rub my finger on that little first picture.

And I’m mad.

I’m mad that the FIRST picture (or rather–the first picture I have…they were able to document) was taken far longer than a momma ever would.

Yet I’m thankful. Thankful to have a handful of pictures from a few weeks to 2 years before he was in my arms. But just a few pictures–of two years…and so much I missed.

If I’d only known–I would’ve flown around the world to hold him–I would have moved us there…anything to have the gaps filled. And yet–there is still so much I still miss.

And what I miss–is what I know he will miss. And they are the things I can’t ever…”unmiss”…or fill.

I’m a mom to children both by birth and adoption. And there are things that DO feel differently–things I will always miss…that they will miss…and maybe always long for.

A dear friend asked me a deep, hard question about the difference a momma feels when children are brought through adoption, birth, foster…these are things our family has experienced. And the LOVE. The love for them–truly is no different. I’m a momma bear when it comes to all my babies. Even the ones that no longer live with us because it was temporary to begin with (hosting/foster). Each connection different and unique…just as my connection to each of my parents or grandparents are each so different. But my love for all my babies is fierce…as a momma’s love should be.

But the differences…they are still there.

And they break me and make me long over and over and over again.

I have sweet memories of every moment for my first children. Feeling their kicks inside me for 9 months. Imagining what they’d look like as we compared ultrasound pictures. Any mom who has experienced birth can’t deny the unbelievable, powerful connection she feels the moment that first cry is heard. All of the sudden–your heart is outside your body being held by this doctor…and so desperately you want the words to come out, “GIVE HIM TO ME!” as if you won’t be able to breath without this new one in your arms. And then the weight of 8 pounds rests…and you can breath again–and the world stands still.


This I missed with my 4th and 5th.

These babies by birth–they learned to drop their head on my chest. They knew my voice. I was their safe place. From first boo-boos and falls–I could pick them up and the crying would stop…which some times made daddy absolutely crazy.

We’d nap together following the wise words “sleep when the baby sleeps”…and connections were made that first year through many a nap–and cheering behind the camera at every funny face and milestone.

I knew the funny faces.

And oh MY–some times…in pictures–we’d compare my baby pictures or Richard’s and squeal with delight at little expressions that were similar.

All the while–deeper connections were made. Reminders of us at their age. Not only in these moments for baby–as every baby loves to be cheered for. But in these moments connections were also being made for me–as mom.

I shake myself out of the wishing and wondering.

Yes–yes…yes, I know it’s late. I need to just run upstairs and scan this “Certificate of Citizenship” for this lady and go to bed.

But right now–I can’t. It’s not always that simple. Before life moves on, some times I just have to be still in this place instead.

I sit there.

And I grieve.

I grieve the not being there.

I grieve how much I want to be an instant safe place. Wishing it came more naturally–because I know and feel the difference…and how I’m still working on being that for them.

It’s not his fault that it isn’t always easy. Or mine…that we have to work harder and have more to work through.

I grieve that there are so many expressions and faces…and his toes–his quirky little, sweet toes–I’ll never know whose they resemble.

I catch my breath and the tears just fall. Because some times. It just doesn’t feel fair. Mostly for him. But can I say–for me too? I wish I knew. I wish I had been there. I wish I had the stories for all the gaps.

I wish the hard medical things that happen in the brain when a child enters flight or fight because they have been abandoned or removed from a biological mom didn’t happen…and here we spend hour upon hour in our daily working through sensory things–that are so important…and that also drive me crazy as a mom too…because I don’t know why or always understand why they are there. (Coming from a mom with a biological child with sensory stuff–I get this in a different way–because for these boys…the grief is present when the sensory is often present…making the dailies often just feel harder wanting to be so sensitive and hoping–just hoping I’m doing it right.)

The boo boos are different…and I have to teach them a momma can be the one to run to. A momma can help kiss them and rock and make things just a little bit better…if you let them. But the letting us–that’s the thing we know that can take weeks or even years (and some times never) to happen.

I know the things I miss–will one day be the things my boys will also miss and long for themselves…and right now it just doesn’t make sense as they learn to be deeply cared for. Having a little one who will fall in your arms and naturally trust you is a million times different than building the trust with one that doesn’t even know it’s okay at first to cry.

So yes…it is different. But my love for all my loves—is true.

I learn how to love my husband deeply who isn’t biologically related to me–but our hearts are deeply connected. And I’m deeply committed to him and all of my children no matter how the Lord let them become mine.

I just wish I had the moments.

I wish could fill the gaps.

I wish I could have been there to let that little head that didn’t have the strength to be held up on it’s own just fall on my chest…and learn trust from the beginning.

And I march upstairs with that certificate in my hand.

I scan it.

And I send it to her.

The hoops now–are just hoops.

And I’m just thankful he is home.

And he is mine.

I may have missed the beginning, but I’m here for the rest of forever. And If I could only have one–I’d choose forever every time.

Stacy - July 11, 2014 - 2:36 am

I fully relate to wishing for those lost moments! Your post made me think of these words I hung on before our adoption was complete… “But I find comfort in the truth that God has known you. He has known when you sit and when you rise. He perceives your thoughts from afar. He discerns your going out and your lying down. He is familiar with all your ways. Before a word is on your tongue He knows it completely. He has hemmed you in – behind and before, and His hand is upon you.” Bless you Andrea!

Kelly - July 11, 2014 - 8:19 am

What a beautiful post! A now absolute favorite of mine. <3

Erin - July 11, 2014 - 8:58 am

A friend just sent me your blog and here I am crying because I literally just wrote about many of these things on my blog. It is so, so different. The love is there but children from hard places require a special type of parenting and love. It has sure stretched me and made me realize that what I did with my first (bio)three can’t be done with my fourth. I, too, grieve all that was missed. It’s hard. Hugs to you momma!

admin - July 12, 2014 - 9:43 am


Billie Hobbs - July 12, 2014 - 10:03 am

Oh, Andrea, my heart aches for your pain – a mother’s pain that only a mother can feel. Just concentrate on the today and tomorrow. How very blessed those boys are to have been given the pleasure of calling you “Mommy” FOREVER. I know I have said it before, but I have no doubt that you are one of God’s special angels here on earth to love and nurture those who need it so badly. I am thankful to call you friend.

Rebecca - July 29, 2014 - 10:52 pm

As a mom that is entering this adoption journey this spoke volumes to me. I ask myself some of these questions every day. Thank you for being so transparent.