Adoptive and Foster Mamas Are Wired for This Rare Gift

What to do if you're scared about being a mama to a child with special needs and scary background

Mom’s heart must have felt like it would beat out of her chest when the caseworker told her my pre-adoption story. 

  • Mother raped
  • Abandoned at birth by mother
  • Father with criminal record

What fears must have surged through her, especially about the father’s genetic influence. Would her child be automatically set up for a dark future because of him?A

I am confident that she could see the depth of abandonment I suffered and my resulting neediness to be touched and held by a loving mom. Her heart bled for all I’d been through.

Many would be scared spit-less and would run the opposite way from such a scary call to mothering, seeking a “nicer back story or a candy-coated adoption they could brag about to the family and friends.”

Not my mom. She was willing to stay the course, no matter how difficult. My mom was like a mountain climber looking at a huge mountain never climbed before.

Wired to Give A Rare Gift

Adoptive and foster moms are wired for such a climb, even though they probably don’t realize it before or during the climb.

For the soon-to-arrive baby who would struggle with abandonment and shame over just being alive, the life experience of the delivery room physician would parallel mine in a seemingly invisible way. 

Only during the search phase of my life would I learn this from his granddaughter.

His warm tears landed on my newborn body, like a spring rain.

I wanted to feel them forever.

To my once-orphaned delivery doctor, life was something to be celebrated, to shed happy tears over.

I couldn’t wait to feel his tears again.

What was it about those tears that soaked into my soul? 

Were they saturated with hope and comfort? Were they bright lights at the end of the traumatic tunnel of living my first nine months of life in the womb of a mother who fantasized abortion? Or, were they seeds, sown in secret, to produce a great harvest later in life?

Whatever it was, I wanted more.

Orphan Doctor held me up, gazed into my big brown eyes, and smiled.

About that time, that the caseworker called my parents to inform them of my special needs:

  • Baby requires 10 days in incubator due to low birth weight
  • Baby refuses to eat and is considered “failure to thrive”
  • Baby doesn’t have a name and is called Baby X by hospital workers

When mom learned about special needs, all she could think about were her shortcomings and inadequacy. What if our baby won’t eat for me? What if she doesn’t gain weight? What if she resists my desire to hold her? I don’t know if I can do this.

Then in the birthing room, Nurse Kratchit bent close to Orphan Doctor’s ear, whispering.

Orphan Doctor’s eyes pooled with tears.

What did she whisper?

Was there something wrong with me?

Was I ugly? Too little?

Is that why she suddenly whisked me off to a dimly-lit room where pleading and plaintiff cries hovered over me, like smog in LA?

Where was Orphan Doctor?

Where were those large, gentle hands that welcomed me to earth with orphan tears?

Why didn’t he come back?

Then, Nurse Kratchit shoved me into a box made of glass.

I kicked and screamed bloody murder, but the sounds of my cries bounced back, like ping pong balls.

No one heard my needs.

And, so I give up and “go inside.” It’s safe in there.

Then, I hear Nurse Kratchit walking near the glass box which was going to be my dwelling for ten days.

Proudly, she announces the name she’s chosen for me.

Baby X.

 The night before my homecoming, I bet mom hardly slept. Feelings of inadequacy must have made her body tight, like a drum.

Wired With Core Belief of A Non-Abandoning Heart

When the caseworker brought me through the front door, she couldn’t help but fall in love. 

It was at that moment that one of her rarest gifts surfaced—her non-abandoning heart.

She would reverse the script of abandonment to one of safety and belonging. She would love this baby with every fiber of her being.

And so, over the span of a lifetime, mom gifted me, even though I didn’t realize it.

Wired to Pass on A Legacy

She was creating a legacy for me, passing it down, even though I didn’t want it, need it, or receive it.

That is what legacy is. Passing on gifts, or heirlooms from one generation to the next.

Mom gifted me with the non-abandoning heart over the years by living by these legacy markers:

  • I will do everything possible to connect with my child
  • I will still love her even when she rejects me
  • I will love unconditionally, knowing her back story
  • I will love her even though I am afraid
  • I will love her by telling her the truth about her back story.
  • I will keep loving her even though I never receive love in return.
  • I will go to my grave knowing I’ve done my absolute best for her.

That rare gift of a non-abandoning heart can be illustrated by this story about a forest ranger who was surveying the results of a forest fire in California. 

All the mighty redwoods were but an ash heap. 

Kicking his way through the ashes, he came upon a mysterious clump, which he kicked to the side. Immediately, baby chicks scurried out from their dead mama’s body.

What a mom she was. She refused to leave her offspring even though fire raged around her. 

She accomplished her life’s mission and legacy of gifting her babies with a non-abandoning heart.

What a mom she was to those scurrying chicks…and what a mom my mom was to me.

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