Adoption, a birth day, and a birthday. The joy and the pain and the whole mingled, magnificent, mess.

Baby Arie, before I called him my own.  
Normally, a mother looks back on the day her baby was born with vivid memories. She remembers the early twinges of labor, the wondering is this it?, the midwife arrival or the trip to the hospital. She remembers the labor, the pushing, and the delivery of her baby into this big, beautiful, broken world. She remember the tears, the joy, the worry, the relief. In her mind she can still hear those first squeaky cries, feel the warmth of her baby's skin, the look in her partner's eyes. On the day her baby was born, she folds the corner of her world- a standout page in a book of fuzzy memories that otherwise mostly run together.

On her child's birthday, she flips back to the dog-eared page to remember and relive that birth day. It was a day on which her entire life changed. And she knew it.

Weeks ago, as I sat planning Arie's third birthday party I was suddenly overcome with emotion as I lingered on the idea that I had no idea what I was doing on the day of my son's birth. Where was I? What was I thinking? What was I doing? My whole world changed that day and I was entirely oblivious. Suddenly I was desperate to find out everything I could about my life on the day my son was born.

I searched back through my history on Facebook, email, and photobucket. Nothing. I checked another old email account. There were messages from the days before and after his birthday, but nothing on June 7 itself. Finally I opened the photo program on my computer, thinking that since June 7 2010 was apparently a very average day in my life, I would I not have taken any photos of it. In fact, at that time I only had a simply point and shoot camera- no camera phone and no DSLR like I do now. It was a time of significantly less photo taking in my life.

But, God.

But God saw fit to give me a gift on the day my son was born. Through what I can only imagine was a divine prompting, I took my camera out as John and I ate a picnic of sandwiches at a local waterfront park- one of our favorite "cheap date" ideas from our poor student days.

I am blessed to have these two simple photos from the day my son was born.

As I enjoyed this picnic with my husband, warm under blue skies and dazzling sun, halfway around the world another woman groaned in what I can imagine to be both physical and emotional agony and delivered our son into the world. From her body he slipped, bone of her bone and flesh of her flesh, stained with her crimson blood.

"A child born to another woman calls me Mom. The depth of the tragedy and magnitude of the privilege are not lost on me." - Jody Landers.

I grieve the brokenness that took my son from his birth mother. The loss is almost incomprehensible.

Yet I rejoice that after her blood was wiped off his body, he began his divine journey home. Two years and one month after he was delivered from his first mother's womb, his forever mama flew across the ocean to cup his face in her hands and whisper we're going to get you home.

It's redemption. It's God who spoke first, speaking last. It's me, with an empty womb, saying, "son." It's  the lonely, set in families. It's putting the pieces back together more beautiful than they were before. It's love, winning.

What I've learned as an adoptive mom so far is that the birthday of an adopted child can bring out a lot of emotions- feelings of both great joy and deep loss. As Arie matures and is able to understand his story more fully, I know the emotions will only become more intense. But I've determined that I will not be afraid. Though I will surely be tempted to skip over the hard parts, to push them down for both me and for my son, to cover up his and my questions and my heartache by plastering on a smile, I will call upon the name of the Lord to be my strength. Those questions and that pain that accompany the loss in adoption, they are not mine to answer and they are not mine to reject. Those are God's to answer and they are ours to ask.

God is big enough for the questions. He will equip me to hear them with grace. The truth is that we must open ourselves up to the depths of pain if we want to experience the heights of joy. And: we rest in the promise that though the sorrow may last for a night, the JOY comes with the morning! 

So this week I embrace my son's birth and everything that goes with it. I grieve the loss. I remember his birth mother's pain. I pray. I humbly remember the privilege I hold in my son and in gift of adoption. I celebrate the redemption! I lift my face to the sun and I say thank you.



  1. This is so beautiful. And I rejoice that the Lord gave you two smiling photos from that day, glimpses into hearts that were to be filled with so much joy. Thank you for sharing.

  2. What a treasure those pictures are - a strong marriage, enjoying time together, God preparing you for your hearts and home to embrace what would be.

    1. I thought the same thing Jacquie! Shows how God was strengthening us for the journey to come!

  3. I was moved to tears reading this. How lucky Arie is to call you mama- to have a woman so understanding of what may come. Though take this with a grain of salt, but I never grieved my adoption on my birthday- I only ever felt the need to celebrate how blessed I was to have two families who loved me to the ends of the earth and back.

    1. Blessed you are! I hope Arie feels the same way one day. thanks for leaving a comment!

  4. Anonymous6/05/2013

    Dear Jill!

    There is a Russian cartoon (very popular, really) "Mother for a little mammoth".
    It is a story about little mammoth who looks for his mother and finds a new home in Africa.
    Pease, do me a great favour, watch it! Here it is with english subtitles http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gsl9ZGfy2nE

    When the time comes for Arie to learn the story of his adoption, this cartoon will help him to understand how he came to a new life.


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