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EndNotes

Posts tagged: adoption

Of family and other miracles…

July 15th is our family day. The day we met our son. He is 18-years-old now and I really would go back and live those years again. He is an amazing human being, a wise soul with a compassionate heart and an intuitive way of knowing the world.

Every July 15th we celebrate, we remember, in small gestures – red, white and blue clothes, looking at photos, telling him the story.

Six months after his arrival home he was welcomed into our church as he was baptized.

I wrote these words to tell him the story. Happy Family Day, Alex. All my love – through eternity into forever…Mom

 “I stand on the top step of the altar wearing a soft, white satin gown that swirls around my feet. Your dad in his tuxedo tails stares into my eyes and takes my hand. Facing the priest and community of believers, we vow to love each other through eternity into forever. We seal our promise with circles of gold and a kiss…We live our promise through adventurous years and challenging moments. Then one day we think about you – a child, our child. But our passionate longing is not enough: our broken bodies cannot make you.

We grieve, we pray, we question, we wonder. Slowly we listen to parents who know a road less traveled where home studies and social workers create families; where God’s grace brings children and grown-ups together and breathes into them the gift of family. So, we move through the maze of questions and documents – dragging our faith behind us. Then we wait. We wait. We wait. We wait.  One Thursday early, early, the telephone rings and words deliver you into our hearts. A baby boy, born in Paraguay, our son. We imagine your face, your spirit. We wonder whose arms will rock you, until we hold you. I chatter to you in my mind and ache because your little life is only waiting, waiting.

We pack diapers and documents and formula and tiny clothing and all our dreams into suitcases. An airplane, like a magic carpet carries us 7000 miles into the night over rain forests and prairies and deserts and ocean waters.

Finally, you are placed in our arms – like a puzzle piece. Your tiny hands scrunch my sleeves, your brown eyes look knowingly into my face, then close in comfortable sleep.

Our hearts beat in perfect rhythm.

 And now…we dress you in white satin and carry you to the steps of the altar, where we initiate you into our community of believers. We gather around the sacred pool. The priest reaches deep into the pool lifting holy water to your tiny head, baptizing you:

 'In the name of the Father, God the Creator,' who paints promises in rainbows and plays cosmic matchmaker…'In the name of the Son,' God’s Word made flesh; the human phoenix who beckons us to follow. 'In the name of the Holy Spirit,' God’s laughter and passion, the gentle muse who nudges and prods.

 Alexander, you are our blessing not earned, but bestowed. You are God’s whispered answer to all our questions. Today we honor the miracle of our triune family. And we promise: we shall love you through eternity into forever. Welcome Home…”

Motherhood …a journey of grace

Mother’s Day. I tolerated it during those years when I longed for a child who could not be born. A child who could not be born from me.

And then…he arrived. A child through adoption, the miraculous process of child matched with parents. The ultimate blind date.

Alex is 18-years-old now. I still marvel at our coming together: different continents, same blood type. He looks like my husband, he acts like me. But his talents are uniquely his own. His creative mind, his generous spirit, his refusal to hurry through life, he is a wondrous soul who knows himself and acts accordingly – no matter how much I try to take him off course. I wish I had possessed half his self-confidence when I was twice his age.

I am grateful for the moments: when he was 3-years-old, he put his chubby little hands on my face and proclaimed, “I want to mah-wee you, Mommy!”  I watched one morning as he closed his eyes tightly and jumped on top of a book. When I asked, in that staccato, parent voice,”What..ARE..you..doing?!” He said, “I want to get in that story!” That year he also announced at breakfast he had been gone in the night, “The Moon Horse came and got me and took me for an adventure, Mommy. So, when I’m gone from my bed, don’t worry. I am with the Moon Horse.”  

At 7-years-old, he decided he loved “putting on shows” and stepped onto a stage, memorizing lines, performing with ease before 200 people. Tonight he performs in Footloose at a local theater. 

When my cancer came, he stayed close and made huge bowls of mashed potatoes because I said that was the only food that tasted good when I was in the hospital. Eight months later, we excused him from school for two weeks and traveled to Italy.  We walked off the grief from my illness - 81 miles over Italian streets. Alex is a perfect traveling companion: curious about everything and undaunted when plans go awry. He loved the “dead guy in a glass box” at St. Peter’s in Rome. He walked through Assisi, chattering on and on about St. Francis, who “talked” with animals.  We stood still in Piazza della Signoria catching snowflakes on our tongues while pigeons strutted around our feet. He hauled his suitcase on and off trains and over cobblestones through Bologna, Florence, Rome, Pescara, Perugia.  

While I have hauled him across this continent as well as  across the Atlantic Ocean, he has taken me on this wonderful journey of motherhood, a journey made up of wonderful moments.

And that is my daily prayer: give me grace to pay attention, to the moments, to the joy, to the gift who is our child.

We waited so long for him to arrive, but our journey, like those Italian trains, moved fast. Someday soon the Moon Horse will call him and he will follow, jumping into his own story. I’ll try not to worry. As he travels into young adulthood, I hope we have not left him with too much childhood baggage to haul into his future.

Thank you, Alex, for the privilege of sharing our lives, for teaching us more than we could possibly teach you. No matter how old you are or where your dreams take you, know that our love travels with you, always…through eternity into forever. Xoxoxo ~ Mom

(Photo of Cathy and Alex, Piazza della Signoria, Florence, 2005)

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About this blog

Writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., addresses issues facing aging baby boomers and seniors as well as issues of serious illness, death and dying, grief and loss.

Ask a question: Catherine welcomes questions about aging issues and grief. Email her at endnotescolumn@gmail.com.

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