Initially our eyes met briefly ~ sneaking a peek and darting away, only to be glanced at again in a sideways slant. I longed to stare into the face and eyes of the son that seemed to drink in a memory of his birth mom nearly 19 years ago. Due to a speaking seminar I was attending in Daniel's home town I was now a guest in his home.
When Daniel was born, he was a healthy 9 lbs 4 oz solid baby boy! And, I know it's not necessary to say, but he was BEAUTIFUL. I'm of the opinion that children of mixed heritage are often the most striking people that grace this earth. The evening before this family would begin a journey for a lifetime, Daniel's parents came to visit me in the hospital. I was sitting on my bed holding Daniel up on my shoulder and his soon-to-be parents and I were talking as old friends might do about life in general. Sort of the white elephant saga, we spoke of everything and anything that didn't have to do with tomorrow's transition. At one point during our conversation, I was speaking to Carol when suddenly Daniel picked his head up off my shoulder and looked up into my face as if to say "I know this voice. Are you my mother?"
The last night that Daniel and I had together as mother and son was so bittersweet. I didn't want it to end, yet I longed to move on swiftly in an effort to reduce the pain that was welling up inside of me. I rolled Daniel's bassinet to my room in the middle of the night as he was beginning to stir for an early morning bottle. Thankful that I had a private room I talked to Daniel and told him things that I hoped would remain in his soul forever. His eyes were bright and gleaming, rich in depth and seemed to sparkle brightly all the while. We talked for what seemed like hours as that last night turned into day. Daniel was all ears and quite alert for being only 30 hours old, seeming to drink in everything I said to him with earnest delight, almost as if to say, "tell me more, Mom. I want to know EVERYTHING there is to know about you before I go." We lingered that morning, he and I.
Impending grief loomed large and every now and then, for a fleeting moment, I almost changed my mind. How could this be??? How did I get into this situation?? Of course, I knew how, but never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would be placing a child of my womb, a child of my heart into another families arms to raise.
When Fran, the adoption facilitator came to tell me the time was drawing near, she left me alone again with Daniel sleeping in his bassinet. I peered over this perfect little child and wept uncontrollably. I picked him up and held him so close it felt as if we would simply become one. Unable to take these emotions for another minute Fran seemed to come back right on time. I placed this beautiful boy into her arms and as she left the room, I sank into my pillow and wept with more pain than I had ever felt before. Yet, in my heart of hearts I knew that as painful as this was, as hard as it was, it was the most right thing I've ever done and I thanked God for giving me the strength to carry it through.
Now, it's 2009 and these past five days Daniel and I played cat and mouse with our eyes, our questions and our thoughts. One evening he brought out his graduation party poster boards, "The Shrine of Daniel" his family teasingly called it, chronicling his life from birth through graduation. I poured over those boards, recalling some of the pictures I'd received through the years and marveling at others I had never seen. The next evening when we were all out for ice cream, his 82 year old grandfather thanked me with such feeling for the gift I had given to this family and told me how much he loved this boy. I was humbled deeply and had even more gratitude for this family given to me. Athletically, Daniel succeeds. Grandpa told me that at each sporting event, no matter who in the family was there to cheer him on, Daniel would hug each one after the game that day and thank them for being there. What a guy!
My speaking seminar was an incredible process of learning to find an aim and application to whatever I may choose to speak about. It sounds easy enough but really takes some work to hone in on this craft and learn that my words and gestures need to be purposeful from beginning to end. It was difficult in some ways because at night, when I should have been spending time reworking my assignment, I was bonding again with Carol. We shared so much more of our lives that didn't necessarily include Daniel. Some days I felt emotionally spent, but it was ALL GOOD.
Being a woman of faith was the only thing that carried me through the past 19 years that was filled with divorce, addiction, recovery, job loss, death, grieving and a smattering of abundant joy through my grandgirls. Only God would have known that 19 years ago when I placed Daniel into this family, that I would end up at a conference less than five miles away from his home. Only God would have Carol call me "out of the blue" and then, after finding out I'd be in their town, invite me to spend my nights with them allowing Daniel and me to have some interaction that prayerfully will give him even more security in the fact knowing that he's always been loved by me.
A mother and child reunion is only a motion away.
Through the deepest trials of life, God will sustain those who ask. Not only sustain, but restore brokenness to an even better place than it was to begin with.
"Then I will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust."
*All Pics Googled*