From the moment we adopted Carmen, we heard it:
She's so lucky to have you.
This isn't an offensive statement, of course. She is lucky to have us in the way anyone is lucky to have someone they love, someone who loves them. It is the tone used most often that irritates me most, an implication that Carmen's birth mother carried and delivered her and then simply handed her off with the carelessness of someone incapable of love. You see, Carmen was lucky to have her birth mother because she loves her with the love only a mother can possess.
Carmen's birth mother loves her with every ounce of herself. She loved her too much to bring her up in a life of instability and so she chose a lifetime of emptiness for herself for the sake of her baby. She chose to ache every day, to miss and long for a baby she loves every single day, so that her child could know security and family and stability. Those are the makings, to me, of what defines an extraordinary human being, of what define what a mother should be.
On a regular basis, I laugh and joke with fellow sleep-deprived mothers as to what sacrifices being a mother entails: yoga pants, unwashed hair, bags under the eyes, broken nights of sleep. Carmen's birth mother made a sacrifice that trumps any first-world problem sacrifice I have ever had to make. She is more mom than me, more woman than me, more strong than I could ever hope to be. She has given me my daughter and I have given her the promise that Carmen will know only love for the entirety of her lifetime. Carmen's birth mother will ache every day while only hoping that I make good on my promise. And that's the thing about adoption: I will devote every second, every minute, every hour of my lifetime making good on my promise. I will make good on my promise every moment of every day, even when my bones ache from exhaustion and both children have been simultaneously screaming for an hour. I will cherish every moment. I live to be the mother my children deserve and the mother that I have promised Carmen's birth mother I will be. For her to choose me to parent her beautiful baby girl, well, it goes without saying that I am the lucky one in this equation.
Unlike the few of my friends who have adopted, ours isn't an open adoption. We never had the opportunity to meet Carmen's birth father and though I have seen pictures, a piece of me will hurt every day missing someone and loving someone who I don't know. In her face, I see his face and that makes it impossible to not love him, even if he is a stranger -- which is a word that doesn't seem to fit, considering I am raising his child. Things are always a little messier, a little more intricate than those outside of the adoption seem to understand.
Adoption is so deeply rooted in love, and so deeply rooted in loss, and so deeply rooted in general in the sense that many hearts and lives are entwined together far beyond choice. I will admire Carmen's birth parents and live to make them proud of me, something that has become to feel as natural as breathing.
"She's so lucky to have you," people will continue to say. When I look into her face, my heart swells knowing just how many people love her, how many lives she's touched, how many hearts have special places carved out just for her very being to sit. For all of that love, she is lucky -- but how lucky I am to be her mother? Nothing can compare.