I've been a mother for 36 years, and I have always loved it. I've never wanted to be anything else more than I have wanted to be a mom. I loved taking care of my children as babies. I've loved watching my babies grow into strong, healthy, beautiful adults.
All families have certain things that make them alike. Several of my children have the full, rounded face of my husband's side. A few of them have the high cheekbones that belonged to my grandmother, who I loved dearly. A couple of them have the dimple in their chin that belonged to my father. Some have Bill's blue eyes. A couple of them have my green/brown eyes. And some have my height, which the boys of the family are not crazy about! Sorry, guys!
When Bill and I got into our 50's, we adopted several children. I can remember thinking one or twice that something was wrong with a couple of them in particular, because they were too thin, their chest bones didn't look right, and other various things, before catching on to the fact that because they had different DNA, their bodies just looked different from the seven babies I gave birth too. That brought me a lot of relief - more than someone who doesn't have both biological and adopted children might realize.
It's funny how some of the adopted and some of the biological children have some of the same traits: Luke has a birth mark that almost matches two that Spencer has, although in a different places. Tommy has a freckle in the same place that Mary Susannah does. I really enjoy that!
While I had noticed these things, they were never brought home to me as hard as they were this morning.
Luke came to us as a little baby. Well, he didn't exactly come to us that way....He was my oldest daughter's foster child in the beginning. It was because I loved his big sister - the same big sister who moved into our home as a foster/adoptive placement (seven years after Luke was) last month, that we got our foster/adopt license. Because I wanted to adopt his siblings, I took care of Luke most of the time he was in our daughter's foster home. I thought we would adopt all three siblings, and I wanted to bond with the baby. In the end, the older two siblings were returned to their mother, and we adopted Luke. He was 12 months old when he was made our adoptive placement, 18 months old when the adoption was finalized.
Luke is a 'cute in a funny way' little guy. He has lots of quirky things: Ears that stick out and don't match. Eyes that completely close when he smiles. And a funny little ball in his belly button...
I used to kiss that little belly button when I changed his clothes and diapers. I would run my finger over it and tease him, asking him where he got that bubble. It's a hard little round ball, set into his belly button. I just figured that when he was born, the cord didn't fall off right, or maybe the doctor pulled on it or something.
A little over a year ago, we got a call that Luke's siblings, including that older sister we got our license hoping to adopt many years ago, were back in the foster care system and had been released for adoption. If you follow my blog posts, you will know all the heartache and trouble that has gone on since then. But God is good, and the sister and a new little sister were placed with us as foster/adoptive placements last month. We will finalize the adoption the very first chance we get. It takes about six months.
Little sister, who I call Miss S until I can publish her name, sometimes has a hard time. She was taken from her parents about the time she turned four years old. We are her third foster home in two years. She has trust issues. She acts out a bit. Knowing I am going to be her mommy, rather than a temporary foster mother, spurs me to work harder than usual with her. I am going to be responsible to God for the next twelve years of her life.
So when she spent a whole morning crying and throwing a tantrum before school recently, I knew I needed to get to the bottom of this. I spent the whole day going over in my mind the research I had done. One thing I remembered was that when you adopt an older child, you sometimes need to go back to babyhood with them, and do some of the parenting things the two of you have missed together. So even though I would not normally give in to tantrums, I decided I would dress her each day, just like she was a toddler instead of a six year old girl fully capable of dressing herself. We've been doing that for a week or so.
This morning, I was dressing her before school. As I pulled up her little leggings, I saw it -
Miss S has a bubble in her belly button. Just like Luke's. It was amazing - the thing I thought was a "misstep" in Luke's little body is actually a family trait. It nearly brought me to tears - something only a mommy will understand.
Had Miss S never moved in, if Luke had not had the blessing of having at least a couple of biological siblings in our home, we would not have known that family trait. Miss S thought that was pretty fun, to have a belly button bubble like Luke's. Luke was not so impressed. Maybe it's a male thing?
Such a little thing. Such a big thing. I'm so glad, as their mommy, to get to know it!