|hannah and son jonah|
Hannah shares with us some of her experiences with adoption, as an extended family member. its always fun to hear from those whose lives are impacted, but arent themselves members of the adoption triad. Often times birthmothers wonder what the extended family thinks and feels about the adoption situation, i know i did/do. thank you hannah, for your example of gratitude and love for the adoptions in your life, your nephews are lucky to call you 'auntie'!
|J and O meeting new|
cousin baby jonah
I am the proud aunt of two beautiful adopted boys. Automatically, I am grateful for adoption because it gave my older brother, who I love, the opportunity to have children. I am automatically grateful for the boys’ birthmothers and their choice to place their babies in our family. But now things have changed in my life, and my attitude toward adoption is no longer automatic, but has deepened to something much more personal.
This last year has carried with it some serious life altering experiences. My dad had a sudden and unexpected heart attack and died on January 1, 2010. My son, Jonah, was 1 year old, and had been making some major developmental milestones, including getting a lot more interested in other people. I had very little spousal support, and felt the strong burden of both grieving my father’s loss and keeping up with my little one’s needs. During that first week and a half after my dad died, my brother, his wife, and and their 2 [adopted] boys, Oliver and Jeremiah, came to stay with my mom. Jonah and I were also staying with her during that time. I don’t want to sound like a bad mom, but I just needed a
|Oliver and Jonah jan 2010|
little help with Jonah--- something. . . someone to distract him long enough to let me feel my emotions and breathe a little bit. That someone came in the form of my darling adopted nephews. They were 1 ½ and 4, and were delighted to play with Jonah, and they all played together so much that we parents were able to just talk and make necessary plans. This may seem like a small thing, but for me, it was the most helpful experience I had had to that point as a parent. I found myself thanking God in my prayers for my nephews. I was thankful, not just because they existed, but because they were giving me the chance I needed to grieve. They were a personal answer to my prayers.
|O. big J. lil J. |
This next event had an even more powerful impact on my gratitude for my adopted nephews. Just a few months ago, my husband and I had a serious talk in which he revealed to me that he had committed adultery several times and with several different people. Things had been rocky for a while, and we had definitely talked about separation as a possibility, but this was my last straw. Besides feeling disrespected and betrayed, one of my huge concerns was that Jonah (now 22 months) might grow up with a distorted notion of what love is, that it is merely using someone else. I had to make some serious decisions at this point. We were living in Nashville, Tennessee and I had no family nearby. I had the option of moving back to Arizona where my mom and younger brother live, but Jonah would not have any cousins to play with or father figures there. I began to feel strongly Jonah and I needed to move to Medford, Oregon where my brother and cousin live with their young families.
|thats right auntie, give Oliver the good stuff!|
I remember flying into Medford with Jonah on my lap thinking, “This is it. This is where I will make a new life for us,” and feeling heartbroken and so fragile, and almost incapable of doing such a thing. My brother met us with Jeremiah and Oliver at the airport. He just hugged me and held me while I cried. I was so overwhelmed with the life that lay before me. And then, we opened the car door and everything changed.
|big J made a train track in the sand for lil J and O|
to run around on, cutest trains ever!
Jonah, upon seeing his cousins inside, lit up like a firecracker and squealed and ran to get in the car between his cousins. Meanwhile, Jeremiah and Oliver were excitedly laughing and yelling to Jonah to get in with them. The energy created by those three boys was an 11 on a 10-point scale! They giggled and played in the back seat all the way home, and my fears slowly melted away. Amid my grief and anxiety, I knew that the most important things were taken care of. My son was surrounded by cousins who loved him and wanted to play with him as much as he needed.
They loved Jonah just because he was himself, no conditions attached. These were kids whose joy and smiles filled me up and were there to make my son laugh during an otherwise gloomy transition in his life.
|chugachuga choo choo|
What if my nephews’ birthmothers had not been so selfless? What if this family I was putting so much trust in was still childless? It would be okay, but I can tell you my son’s smiles would not be so big and bright, and I can guarantee you our lives would not be so full.
I am so thankful for my nephews’ strong birthmothers who, without even realizing it, gave my son a beautiful childhood, full of love---real, deep, and unconditional.