Two Moms, One Daughter

Yesterday we framed this portrait of six-month old Bee being held in her mother’s arms. I’m fairly certain that the instant she saw it, it became her most precious possession. Our talented friend, Katie, drew it from an invaluable photo, the original of which is kept in our fire safe.

Bee shared this photo on Facebook yesterday and asked me to type the status to go with it as she dictated to me, “Thank you to Katie Smith for drawing this picture of me and my Mom. I love it!” I asked, “Do you want me to say your ‘Ethiopian Mom’?” She answered with surprise and certainty, “No, she’s my Mom.”

And I find myself once again standing with one foot firmly planted in each role. I’m the adoptive mom who feels the pang of my child having another mother she fiercely loves. And I’m the birthmom who wants to cheer for her strength of conviction.

This is unsettling at times, and I believe this tension helps me love my children well. I cannot deny their histories or disregard their deep connection to their first mothers.  My children may have only known their mothers for a short time (some longer than others), but it makes no difference. The bond that forms between a mother and child is made of fibers that cannot be broken.

I know it well because I live it; my son and I do not, or perhaps cannot, let go of one another. We’ve been reunited for many years, and our relationship has had challenges, but there is a God-given bond that cannot be broken. Distance, years apart, months of no communication – they don’t matter. He has a mother who loves him dearly; in fact, he has two. Two mothers, one son. That is the reality we live with and while it is unsettling at times, it is the truth – and the truth sets us free.

Lisa

 

 

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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.

27 Comments

  1. Tricia Sayre
    March 21, 2013

    It is an incredibly amazing God-given tie that binds birth parents and their children! I never understood it until becoming "mom" to 3 that I didn't give birth to. It's a beautiful thing and yet so, so hard for me, not because I have a hard time "sharing" that role in their hearts and minds, but because all 3 of my adopted kids have birth parents who either wanted nothing to do with them when they were given the opportunity or were abusive themselves to their children and allowed great abuses to happen by others. I just don't know how to reconcile that in my mind! I agree with Chantelle above…. I love, love reading your blog and you're "one of my favorite people on the world wide web"!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 21, 2013

      Tricia, I can imagine how much that complicates your feelings for your kids’ birthparents. I appreciate that in spite of that, you really “get it”.Thanks for such a kind comment.

      Reply
  2. Chantelle
    March 21, 2013

    Honestly, I get kindof embarrssed by how many times I've typed the same words here in your comment box: "Thank you"… and … "You blessed me so much." I wish I could come up with fresh new ways to bless YOU in return for how you've touched my life and blessed ME!! But… once again… all I've got is THANK YOU and YOU BLESSED ME SO MUCH. You are truly one of my favorite people on the world wide web! (((hug))) You and your life remind me of a quote I read a couple of days ago by Emma Thompson "Its unfortunate, and I really wish I wouldn't have to say this, but I really like human beings who have suffered. They're kinder."

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 21, 2013

      I love that quote, Chantelle! I've never heard it; thank you for sharing it with me.

      Reply
  3. Symona
    March 21, 2013

    Since i, too, am a birth mother who placed her son for adoption many years ago, I know the truth of this statement firsthand, as well. My son is now 32; we've been in contact for 6 years. We've had and continue to have our challenges. But there is still and will always be a deep connection between us. And though it hurt greatly to relinquish him, I know it was the right decision, as I was nether emotionally nor financially able to care for him when I had him. I am so happy he had loving, stable parents. His mother and I have become great friends. God is so good at healing and bringing blessings out of pain! Praying for you and your family, Lisa.
    Symona

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 21, 2013

      What a beautiful reunion, Symona, I love that you and his mother have become friends. Thanks for sharing that with me.

      Reply
  4. Dana
    March 21, 2013

    I find myself staring at that portrait. Bee looks so much like her first mom. What a precious gift.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 21, 2013

      She really does, Dana. We have three pictures of Bee's mother and she was a beautiful woman.

      Reply
  5. Debbie
    March 21, 2013

    I was sitting in the living room the other day with 3 of my adopted children. They were each talking about their birth mom or foster mom's. I was asking questions and it sounded like a typical chit-chat conversation. Suddenly, I realized how surreal it was. I am their mom talking about their moms. It was good, and safe and not emotionally charged. So, I count that as a great afternoon.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 21, 2013

      That is so great, Debbie. What a blessing for our children to be able to talk about their moms and know that they are safe and accepted.

      Reply
  6. Leslie
    March 21, 2013

    My daughter refers to her "mom in Ethiopia" and I am her mom here. She said," I don't call her my birth mom." That is fine, I keep telling her, "you have two moms that love you."

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 21, 2013

      We usually say "Ethiopian mom" rather than birthmom or even first mom. For Bee, seeing herself in her mom's arms, it was so clear she was being held by her mom. Period. Leslie, you are giving your daughter exactly the right message that she has two moms who love her. Thanks for leaving me a comment.

      Reply
  7. Sharon
    March 21, 2013

    What a wonderful picture-she was held. Love this.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 21, 2013

      Yes – it is a gift for her to see that she was held and loved. What a beautiful foundation. Thanks, Sharon.

      Reply
  8. onepartjoyonepartcircus
    March 21, 2013

    My sister adopted a child from here, in the US and I cannot imagine what it will be like as he grows for my sister. I love the peace that you share here. No whining about not being first, but just a really good attitude that gives me hope for my nephew and sister. This is beautiful. I am a first time visitor, and I will be back! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 21, 2013

      Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. I hope my blog will serve you and bless you.

      Reply
  9. Maple Walnut Mama
    March 21, 2013

    I am a daughter with two mothers and a mother that shares a daughter, and a son, with their other mothers. Yes – there is always a tension and yes it is always a bit unsettling. And, finally, yes the bonds will always exist, they are not something any of us can or will let go of. So grateful for all that you process, share and contribute to this online community – we are all a little more compassionate because of it.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 21, 2013

      I had to read your first sentence a few times to wrap my head around it 🙂 What a great example that life and families can be complicated and still beautiful! Thanks for commenting.

      Reply
  10. Ann
    March 21, 2013

    That just made me cry. Thank you Lisa. Through sorrow comes joy.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 21, 2013

      You know that so well, Ann. I've been stopping by your blog and keeping up a little. Blessings, friend.

      Reply
  11. Leese
    March 21, 2013

    Thanks so much for your prayers, Lisa! I'm going to try to get in touch with you privately to say more – but really, thanks. Know that I'm praying for you each time I do the injections, INR tests, and take my coumadin, too!

    If you've never read her blog, you might appreciate Rebekah Pinchback's blog. She's adopted two little ones (just months apart age wise) – one from birth (an open adoption) and one about a year ago (a foster/adoption – and they may be getting his little bio sister now, too).

    She had a powerful post…that ended up getting very varied reactions…about the 'mom' word and how they've handled it, especially with their first little guy, Ty, since his birthmom (also named Rebekah) still has contact so it comes up more – and differently.

    Anyway, I think her faith and heart are something you'd find resonate with yours!

    I appreciate her blog in general, but here are the two posts that I thought tied in well with what you just shared as far as Bee's story!

    The "mom" word post (when Ty decided instead of calling her Miss Rebekah but also "mom" when they had contact) – http://rebekahpinchback.blogspot.com/2013/01/mom….

    A sort of follow-up/response to the original post: http://rebekahpinchback.blogspot.com/2013/02/faq-

    My prayers – health (and otherwise) – for you continue…and I will get in touch via a non-public comment form soon!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 21, 2013

      Thank you, Leese. I will definitely read the posts you've linked. My girls and I paused to pray aloud for you last night just before I did my injection and your name is on a post-it on my bathroom mirror. Many blessings to you today.

      Reply
      1. Leese
        March 21, 2013

        That made me teary. Thank you. Really!

        Reply
  12. Jennifer P
    March 21, 2013

    My thirteen year old has the picture taped on a piece of construction paper. I need to help her frame it. I do. She doesn't like the word "Birth-mom" either. That is her Mom. I have found peace in not insulting her by using the words. But I have come to realize my place in her life is no less significant.Thanks for sharing your heart here about the bond that cannot be broken. I somehow missed your posts about your son. It hurt my heart and helped me understand more all at the same time. Thank you.

    You prompted me to finally write about our own experience with open and closed adoptions. It's good to write about these things. It helped me examine my own heart and how the past affects the present and the future.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 22, 2013

      Jennifer, isn't it amazing how writing helps us to process things and make better sense of them? That's a big reason why I write my blog; when I say it's "cheaper than therapy," I mean it. Let me know when you frame that picture – it's amazing how a frame makes it all look special and complete. I bet your daughter will really love it.

      Reply
  13. Elaine
    March 23, 2013

    Lisa–While I was still in Ethiopia I drew a similar sketch of my children's mother for them from a priceless photo we were able to obtain. This picture is the center of our lives in our family room and rode in the front seat when we moved and was first in the house. The picture really helps to me to feel connected to her, too. I did this because two of my dear friends are widows whom I had asked advice from about grief. They told me to get as many visual reminders for my children as possible. NOT that easy to get, but this certainly showed my children from day one that I did not have any intentions of replacing her and they could talk about her WHENEVER they want.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 24, 2013

      That is so beautiful, Elaine. You've set a wonderful tone of acceptance for your children. It makes me question my own heart about where I want Bee's drawing to be hung in our home. We haven't decided yet. Thank you for sharing this with me.

      Reply

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