Pink Butterflies – By Lauren Jordan, Blogger, Don’t Lick the Trash Can
There are very few days that go by when I don’t think about my son’s birth mother and that I am not slightly overwhelmed by the amazing responsibility and opportunity I have been given to raise this special boy.
When E.J. first came home, I would rock him at night and cry. Cry for him and all the loss he had experienced and I’d cry for her. How unfair that I would see all his firsts; get all the hugs and kisses; and laugh at all his crazy antics. How unfair it was that she wouldn’t tuck him in at night, hold his hand or comfort him. I don’t let too much time pass without reminding myself of the gift that we have been given and the loss that our son has experienced. In the midst of all the laughter, the good times and the growth, I keep in mind the loss, confusion and journey we have ahead of us.
My worries about being a good mother go further than ensuring that he knows how much we love him, giving him the best education, raising him to be a good person, wanting the best of everything for him, and somehow preventing him from licking every public surface imaginable. It stretches to teaching him to be proud of his birth country and culture; explaining how we became a family; learning to raise a child of a different race in a country that is not as far along as I had once thought, and sharing his story, every tragic and happy detail, with him…in small pieces as the years go by.
Some days go by without a hitch.
He smiles and tells me, “I have brown eyes like you!” sparking a great conversation about similarities and differences. Other days, my curious 3-year-old will ask the tougher questions like, “If you picked me up there, then who dropped me off?” and, “When was I in your belly?” I take out the book that holds his story, photos and all and explain again, in preschooler language, how he was born in Ethiopia. He will often say, “Oh, Ethiopia! When I was a baby!” like he remembers. He often refers to Ethiopia as though he still has a vivid memory of being there.
I talk about the journey Daddy and I took on the plane to pick him up and how we will never forget that first moment when we saw him in one of the rusty, white cribs that lined the walls of the orphanage in Addis. He was a chubby, smiley, 7-month old; very brave and very resilient. I tell him how it was Christmas day of 2009 that we came home as a family. Traveling over twenty-four hours straight, he arrived in Rhode Island wrapped in an airport blanket and a size 6M onesie that looked like a half shirt, looking slightly traumatized but relieved. He was accompanied by two equally traumatized parents, who had no idea that two changes of clothes would not be nearly enough for a nervous baby-stomach.
I show him the photos of those who love him in Ethiopia.
“When will we go to Ethiopia?” He asks.
I promise that we will take him when he is a bit older and attempt to explain that it is a little further than the next town over. He seems reassured and tells me he wants to show his nannies how big he is.
“They will be so amazed!” He beams.
All I can think about is how difficult that trip will be. How emotional, confusing, thrilling and complicated it will be, but also, how necessary and important.
E.J. came with me to mail a package back to Ethiopia. The box contained a photo book of pictures of our beautiful little guy that hopefully made it into the hands of his birth family. That one mailing address in southern Ethiopia is a tangible symbol that we didn’t completely leave there and it will one day help the three of us find our way back.
My concept of motherhood has drastically changed over the past few years. I just wanted to be a mother. To be honest, I wasn’t completely sold on the idea of actually giving birth to a baby. I am a huge hypochondriac and full of anxiety. The thought of carrying a person around for nine months was slightly overwhelming to me and frankly to those around me. My husband seemed almost panicked at the thought of me running around saying, “Is this normal? Can you feel the baby kick? Maybe I need to go to the doctor?” So after my third miscarriage, as odd as it sounds, I couldn’t help but actually feel a bit of relief. I wasn’t going to become a mother by carrying a child. I really think I knew that all along.
So becoming a mother through adoption, as cliché as it sounds, was a huge gift. E.J. was a gift. But with this gift come some amazingly different, complicated situations and experiences. I can’t always call my sister or friends and ask them for advice. At times, there is no frame of reference or past experiences that can help them offer me anything relevant or beneficial. I am in uncharted waters and sometimes feel a little alone. I am not a hundred percent sure that I am answering the questions correctly, telling the story correctly, or dealing with the anxiety correctly, but I am trusting my gut, seeking advice from those who have done this before, and just being open and honest with my son. I encourage him to freely ask questions and talk about “Etiopia,” as he calls it.
Last week, as he was lying in bed, I heard E.J. call for me:
“Mommy! Mommy? So was I one when I was in your belly?”
“No honey, you were never in my belly, remember?”
“Did I talk when you came to take me home?”
“No, not yet. You didn’t talk until you were two!”
“How old in months?”
“You were not yet a year old. 7 months is younger than a year.”
“Whose belly was I in?”
“Your Ethiopian mommy. You were in her belly.”
“You are so silly. You are my mommy!!”
That statement made me smile and wince at the same time and honestly I was a little confused as to how to respond. Finally, E.J. seemed done with his questions for the night. I kissed him, gave him a big hug and tucked him in.
“We love you so much and I want you to feel like you can ask Mommy and Daddy any questions you want.”
He thought about this for a few seconds, tapping his finger against his lip like he does to show me he is thinking. I prepared myself for another tough question.
“Do you like pink butterflies?”
“Yes, yes I do.”
Lauren Jordan’s entourage consists of one highly intelligent, adorable, exhausting 4-year-old who has appeared to make it his life’s mission to ensure that she never sleeps again; and her wonderful husband of eight years, who has made it his life’s mission to prevent her from spending too much money at Target. A fundraiser by day, fueled by massive amounts of coffee, Lauren loves writing about their journey on her blog Don’t Lick the Trash Can, which came to fruition after an unfortunate trashcan licking incident at the doctor’s office. She writes about her family’s journey of becoming a family through adoption. The above article was featured on the Listen to Your Mother show. You can find Lauren on Twitter and Facebook.
This article was reprinted with permission.
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