“I Distinctly Remember Growing in Your Tummy”

“I distinctly remember growing in your tummy, ” Little Man tipped his head to one side, put his finger in the air and made his point with confidence.

Conversations about where he came from, how we found him, and traveling from Ethiopia to America, are becoming more frequent and I’m doing my best to navigate them.  We talk about his Ethiopian mommy, how much she loved him, and why she took him to the orphanage in Soddo, Ethiopia.  I tell him that Eby was there when he came and they were babies together. He likes to hear the story of the first time we saw him, and how tiny he was as I held him in my arms and gave him a bottle.  

Little Man is five and he is trying to make sense of his beginnings; it is no small task..  Adoption is complicated.  Our children do not begin with us, they grew in another woman’s womb, they may have been very loved, they may have been very attached.  There is grief, and that is what I see when Little Man curls up in my lap and tells me that he wishes he had grown in my tummy.

The bittersweet of being an adoptive mother, and the weight of being a birthmother, can be hard for me to merge into any kind of coherent thought. I do my best, and along the way, I love my children fiercely, all twelve of them.  Five of them have another mother who also loves (or loved) them.  This is a good thing – love is rich, it makes our lives better and we have to embrace the love these other mothers give.

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.  God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.  By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.  There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.  For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.  We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4: 16 – 18 (emphasis is mine)

#661 – 670 giving thanks

tall blue spruce trees covered with snow

classes canceled at the university and the high school

long conversations with our older boys 

steel cut oats in the slow cooker, ready for breakfast

Sunshine and Eby racing out the door to sled

Honeybee cooking dinner

Russ taking photos of the ice late last night

standing on the back steps surrounded by quiet (after the kids were in bed)

fellowship with other mothers

a hardworking husband



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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Angela
    January 19, 2012

    Our 5 year old boy from Ethiopia has been grieving as well. His is coming out in anger and defiance right now, and it breaks my heart… Let's be praying for each other and our little men. I adore you.

  2. jen anderson
    January 19, 2012

    Oh that little W boy. he is cute!

  3. Mamma Sass
    January 20, 2012

    You have such an appreciation for his birth mother – that is amazing. I have a 4 yr old adopted from Ghana but his birth mother, didn't want him (he was an accident and she wanted no more than 2 kids, which she already had) and was abusive to him in his first year of life. How would you go about explaining that? He is starting

  4. Mamma Sass
    January 20, 2012

    cont…to ask questions and really explore this. Our other son, also adopted from Ghana at the same time, had a loving mother and father who had both passed away. Our youngest hears us talking about our sons parents, who were very loving and kind, and gave him so much. It is easy to talk with our oldest about his journey here, a lot is because he remembers (he is an older child). With our youngest I have merely given facts. But how do I tell him about his birth mom who didn't want him, who abused him, I was witness to a few moments of it, and was generally a very mean woman. She had another child (a half -sister)who she did not give to adoption, but whom she also abused, again I was witness to it. I don't want him to feel unwanted – he was very much wanted by us. I am unable to have children and he is my first and only baby. I know he was God's answer to me. So this is what I focus on. But he asking more about his birth mother. Details and feelings. I am afraid of the question of what his birth mother thought/felt/desired when it came to him. What would you do in this circumstance?

  5. Joelle
    January 24, 2012

    Inspiring post. Inspiring because it is so hard to not feel jealous or threatens by other people's love. On another topic: did you know steel cut oats are easy to cook by bringing water to boil, adding oats, covering, turning off stove and letting them sit til morning. Perfectly cooked.


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