National adoption month and me
The following post was written by Jacqui Jackson, iHope’s co-founder and CEO, on her Grateful Mommy blog. It can be accessed here: http://www.thegratefulmommy.com
For those of you know me well, and even some of you who have never met me, you know I am passionate about adoption. I only have one voice, but I know my story very well, so I tell it often. Because I love and adore my parents, it doesn’t mean I deny my birth family. Because I love and appreciate my birth family, it doesn’t mean I don’t love my parents. I am not just an adopted child, I am Jacqui…and even stating that – which is truth, which is how I truly self-identify – doesn’t really cover the whole picture, for I wasn’t always Jacqui. At birth I was given a different name, a name a young woman probably loved. Maybe it was a family name, or maybe not. No matter what, it was mine, and outside of my physical appearance, it was pretty much the only thing my birth mother gave me, the only thing she might have been able to give me. And so I held on to it, cherished it, and saved it for my firstborn, a daughter who also came to me through the gift of adoption.
I love my birth mom. I really do. I think of her, not every day, or maybe not even very often, but I do. I think of her on every single birthday. As a teenager, I mainly wondered if she thought about me on that day, as I always thought of her. Then I’d think Maybe we are thinking about each other right now. And then as a typical teen (not an adopted teen, mind you, because in my mind, adoption is a one-day legal term describing a legal experience), my mind would move on to something more pressing, and possibly less complex, less volatile, and a whole lot more shallow, but move on I would.
I also thought of my birth mom as I desperately wanted a child of my own. I want to specify that when I say, "I desperately wanted a child of my own," I do not necessarily mean a biological or "natural" child. I think when we attach labels like “natural," it can set up unnecessary barriers. As any person knows who has ever walked an adoption road, endured the heartbreak of an abortion, or suffered a miscarriage, "pregnant" doesn’t always mean "parent." Likewise, "parent" doesn't necessarily mean "pregnant." I thought of my biological mom during this time of waiting; however, I cried and prayed with my momma, the one who has always cried and prayed with me. She was the one whom I asked every question about my birth mom.
My momma fielded my hard questions about my birth mom. Questions that might make a lesser woman cringe, she loved me through – with a desperate love, a mommy love. My momma honored the one who knew me and loved me first, and I know my birth mom loved me. I know it in my core, because my momma told me she did.
I saw that love concretely when I was able to meet the birth families of my two oldest children. I saw love in action, and I was humbled and overcome. I may never be able to tell my birth mom how much I love her, how courageous she was, or what her choice meant for my life, her choice to choose life for me. But I could love on and tell my kids’ birth moms all of that, because it’s true.
I listened to an interesting podcast this morning about adoption and adoptees. Some of these people seemed complex and complicated, and some were not. Some were pro-adoption, and some were not. Some of the adult adoptees were also now adoptive parents like me, and some were not. Like any group of people, we adoptees don’t have an easily definable modus operandi. We don’t all have the same experiences or same perspectives. We didn’t have the same parents – biological, adoptive, foster, or otherwise. But we all have a heart that beats in passion and persistence because of a choice our birth moms made years ago, and we can all speak with a passionate, persistent voice because of the moms who have spent their lifetimes feeling our hearts beat, hearing our voices, and loving us in the best way they know how, just like our first mom. Both mothers loved us, just like you love your kiddos and just like I love mine.