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One of Those Moments

July 31, 2008

Yesterday we happened to be at the doctor’s office, waiting for a sinus infection verdict (which was, thankfully, negative) on both Daphne and Shaggy. Velma and Freddy were out in the waiting room reading, or otherwise occupying their time. We were sitting inside an examination room, Shaggy and Daphne perched up on the exam table, a long sheet of paper crinkling under them with every move. I was sitting beside them in a chair that was designed for utility rather than comfort, counting the minutes until the doctor would arrive.

We could have covered a thousand topics in the time we sat. I covered at least that many in my head. Shaggy kept up a constant stream of chatter, interrupted every now and again by a question or sarcastic comment from Daphne, the quintessential pre-teen, while I wondered why so many doctor’s offices seem partial to the foamy shade of mint green that covered the walls. After several minutes, Shaggy got a thoughtful look on his face and asked me how I had come by my curly hair. Was it Grammy? Or Grand-grand that had passed it along to me?

It was a little out of left field, but Shaggy is not so much a linear thinker. Used to his “all over the map” questions, I shrugged and said, “Well, Grammy used to have VERY curly hair, but it was not Grammy or Grand-grand that passed it along to me. I don’t know who it was that gave it to me because I’m adopted.”

We have talked about it before. It’s not a secret in our household. It’s not something I’ve kept from them, or have even talked about with discomfort. It’s just a part of my life, like having brown eyes or size 7 feet, so I haven’t discussed it often.

“Right,” he replied as he remembered that fact. “Do you know who your Mom and Dad were?”

“I know who my Mom and Dad ARE,” I explained. “Grammy and Grand-grand are my Mom and Dad. I don’t know who my mother and father are, though.”

He nodded. “Do you even have a picture?”

I shook my head no.

“Do you want one?” he inquired.

“Not really,” I said. “I’m pretty happy with the family I have. I don’t feel like I need to know who they were. I’m thankful that they chose to give me life, and that they chose to give me to some people who really, really wanted me. I don’t think I need much more than that.”

He looked a little puzzled, like it was tough to reconcile the not knowing, and Daphne chimed in. “Yeah, my friend Carla is adopted. And she doesn’t really talk about it either.”

“Does she not talk about it because it’s no big deal, or does she not talk about it because it makes her uncomfortable?” I asked.

Daphne shrugged her shoulders and picked at a hangnail. “I don’t really know.”

“Hmm,” I mused. “I think she’s pretty comfortable with her Mom, don’t you? I don’t think she has issues with it, really.”

“Nah, not really,” Daphne said.

I went on. “Because you know that parents aren’t just people who give birth to a child. They’re the people that are really there for you for your whole life, who love you no matter what. Grammy and Grand-grand did everything for me. I don’t remember anything else.”

“How old were you when you were adopted?” Shaggy interrupted.

“Three weeks,” I answered.

His eyes opened wide. “They changed your diapers and everything?”

I smiled. “Yes they did. And they were there when I learned to ride a bike, when I went to my first day of school, when I graduated from High School and college, when I had a baby. I never knew anyone else. They loved me. They provided for me.”

A couple more minutes went by as Shaggy moved on to another topic and chattered along. Daphne was quiet as he rambled. The conversation we just had got stowed in the back of my mind as other things fought for attention. Bills, school starting, scheduling physicals, work. The list is never-ending and I spend my downtime (e.g., in doctor’s offices or waiting rooms, at stoplights, in line at the grocery store) organizing my thoughts and my to-do lists. Deep in thought about the best way to pack our trailer for our upcoming camping trip, I almost missed Daphne’s soft voice as she looked up from her hangnail and into my eyes.

“So…,” she said, pausing as if she was unsure how to proceed, “Being a Stepmom is kind of the same thing as adopting kids, isn’t it?”

I hastily looked down at my shoes so she she wouldn’t see the tears that suddenly filled my eyes and nodded. “Yes it is, sweetheart. Just like that.”

As I looked up to meet her eyes with a smile I hoped imparted the depths to which her comment penetrated my heart, I thanked God for giving me this bunch. No matter the pain, the cash, the frustration, the heartache… this is why I’m here.

More than just giving them to me, I thanked God for preparing me, for the experience of being an adopted child, so I could understand a love that rises above biology…

So that she could, too.

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22 Comments leave one →
  1. July 31, 2008 12:01 pm

    long time lurker here. Just wanted to say that this post brought me to tears. It reminds me of my step mom (the first one, anyway). She is such a lovely and wonderful person and if it hadn’t been for her, I truly would have been lost in the world. She was one of the only things that kept me grounded. Thank you for reminding me about that.

  2. cassee01 permalink
    July 31, 2008 12:05 pm

    same here..teary

  3. July 31, 2008 12:28 pm

    I got tears in my eyes before even reaching the end of the post because I knew exactly where it was going. How awesome that Daphne put that together. She is wise beyond her years.

  4. lucky13 permalink
    July 31, 2008 12:40 pm

    oh tears and then some…

  5. July 31, 2008 1:20 pm

    {sniffling}

  6. July 31, 2008 1:26 pm

    Beautiful. Those are the moments I live for.

  7. lyndaspix permalink
    July 31, 2008 2:26 pm

    Wow…just…WOW. I, like the other commenters, have tears over this one.

    Being your cousin/sister/friend/whatever-you-wanna-call-it, I’ve loved you from the first time I held you. I have a picture of me holding you. I was 11 years old. You were tiny and precious.

    I’ve always known you were adopted, I’ve just never thought of you as anything other than a very special person in my family and a very important part of my life.

    And I know that is exactly how you feel about Daphne, Velma and Shaggy. I’m so glad that they know it, too.

    Still crying. Happy tears, of course. WOW!

  8. July 31, 2008 2:51 pm

    Oh, I am so crying. Tears just pouring down my face. I am so glad you had that moment.

  9. July 31, 2008 2:58 pm

    What a beautiful moment… That’s the second time I’ve cried today!

  10. July 31, 2008 4:12 pm

    Dokota, when we have free moments, 90% of the time, will ask about my step-mother and my step-dad.. He knows my step-dad and my mom. I don’t talk with my father or step-mother. He tries to understand everything and we talk many times how life can be cruel and how we overcome those things…. And a comment about how NOT calling me mom would feel very weird, if he were to say it today….
    It is nice to have those moments… spoken aloud for all to hear, or in quieted voices only the two can recall…

  11. July 31, 2008 4:49 pm

    I am so glad that you had this moment with her. She is growing up so quickly and maybe, just maybe she is getting it!

  12. Kelly permalink
    July 31, 2008 5:21 pm

    “….a love that rises above biology…”

    Simply and beautifully stated!

  13. August 1, 2008 5:12 am

    Wonderful story, Steph… thanks for sharing it.

  14. August 1, 2008 5:48 am

    Yeah, tears… I am so moved.
    Thank you for reminding us why we take this gig.

  15. August 1, 2008 5:48 am

    Yeah, tears… I am so moved.
    Thank you.

  16. August 1, 2008 3:16 pm

    That soft voice and few words makes it all worth while…glad for you, Stephanie…so glad that you heard them…

  17. August 2, 2008 7:01 am

    So, I’m sitting here crying, chills –

    You get it, Stephanie. You have every reason in the world to be aggravated beyond the point of even wanting to, but you have chosen to see why, to love in spite of everything and to press in to understanding on why you were chosen for these kids. You so get it.

    And faithfulness is paying off. All the serving done in secret, all the things you’ve given up to create the life you are for your family, the stuff you’ve endured and the zeal with which you have proteced love and family – what has been done in the secret place (where only God sees) will be brought to the light publicly.

    Seriously-is this post the introduction to the book?

    I am watching for it!

  18. August 3, 2008 1:24 pm

    I’ve often said she should write a book, too, J.

    And Steph, I really think you should. You’ve got so much experience and wisdom to share.

  19. August 4, 2008 8:12 pm

    Nice one, Steph. Sometimes, just once in a while, we get to get a grasp on why God put us in these places.

  20. August 5, 2008 6:02 am

    I agree, Stephanie….
    You should write the book for us stepmothers who love another’s woman’s child as their own.

    Your adoption set the stage for your heart to be open to these children and it is one of the closest analogies that can co-relate the stepmom’s heart.

    I know that all stepmom’s don’t love like this, but there are more of us who do and we have no representation in written form that expresses this state of heart as well as your blog….

    Please, consider it. Even though that I am not still a stepmom any more, my heart still is and I truly love my husband’s children. I always will….

  21. August 11, 2008 10:38 pm

    As you can imagine, this post filled my heart, Steph! You are such an amazing mom! I wish I knew you personally so that I could meet you for Diet Cokes on a regular basis and get parenting tips from one of the best!

  22. Noni permalink
    August 20, 2008 12:51 pm

    What a great tribute to your kids & to thir sweet sweet mom!

    May the good Lord bless & comfort all six of you.

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