It was the night before the first meeting and I ran around anxiously prepping for the big day. I obsessively trimmed Little Nut's hair; scrubbed his dirty, scuffed shoes; picked out the perfect outfit and then picked out a perfect backup outfit for when the perfect outfit got stained or crumpled during our long drive.
While scrubbing little hands and toes and conditioning hair and skin excessively, I kept thinking about how I would ever measure up as a mom. If the situation were reversed would anyone be good enough to be called my son's Mama? In light of my unspoken answer, that question circled anxiously through my mind. I'm a good mom, but how do you prepare yourself to look into the eyes of the one who gave your son life?
I fell asleep that night reminding myself of the many prayers going before us and asked the Lord one more time for our meeting with J, Little Nut's birth mom, to be grace-filled. The prayer mixed in with random thoughts: What will it be like when we first see each other? How will she interact with our son? What will we talk about? Are we sure this is the right timing for this? What will she think of us? Will our differing skin tones be a tense topic of conversation? And then, Lord, let it be grace-filled. Amen.
Early the next morning we packed the car with all of my anxiously over-prepared excess and started off on a road trip that was like any other and yet not. Little Nut talked the entire time, a little about the upcoming meeting, but mostly about superheroes and cartoon characters and snack foods. I tried to take deep breaths between bouts of excitement and nervousness. We laughed, we got on each others' nerves, we took a few wrong turns. And then, we arrived.
We arrived first and sat waiting, me trying to secretly air out my sweating palms so our first hand shake wouldn't be a moist one, Little Nut asking over and over when J would arrive. After a few moments of anticipating we recognized her face from a recent photo she sent us. Andrew and I turned and I waved so she would see us. I held my breath. She smiled, a bright and genuine smile. Andrew, who rarely feels the awkwardness of moments, embraced her. I followed suit and the moment I had built up in my mind, felt surprisingly normal.
We laughed and talked, had a few nervous moments, and shared openly about the challenges inherent in our situation. We listened to her dreams of a redeemed life and shared the reality of redemption God had already given us all in Little Nut. Strange and normal and awkward and deep feelings came in waves until it was time to go. I felt guilty as we parted, Andrew and I with the beautiful gift of our son, and her with empty hands and memories that would be both joyful and full of pain.
A lady said to Little Nut as we left, "Was that your Mom?" He nodded, and in place of jealousy, I thought, one of them, because he will always have two. She will always be the mama who saw him come into the world, who shares the color of his skin, the contour of his nose, the shape of his lips,and the history of his biological family. And through God's grace, I will always be the mama who teaches him to write his letters, reads stories to him, talks to him daily about God and Batman and is driven crazy by his enthusiastic energy, and for no other reason than we serve a gracious and redeeming God, I also get to be called Mama.
I hardly know what the future holds for our relationship with J, I only know the next step, and the one after that, is grace. Grace for Little Nut as he grows and tries to process it all. Grace for Andrew and I as we navigate living out parenthood after adoption. Grace for J as she hopes for change and lives each day with a piece of her heart set in our hands.