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"Real" Mom

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Today is the anniversary of the birth of my real motherhood. The delivery was painful, joyful, and earth shattering.

I had given birth four times before. I had miscarried once. I have a negative threshold for physical pain – I had 4 failed epidurals. Well, one completely numbed my right foot, but that’s another story.

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Four years ago today we drove five hours away to pick up a 10-day-old baby boy. To those who had cared for him, he was known only as “Little man.” In the wee hours of that morning, unable sleep, wide awake, I wandered about packing and pondering what it would be like to be the mom of this stranger.


Nothing could have prepared me.

Recently I met with a couple interested in adoption. Unable to conceive on their own they had decided to pursue adoption. I knew the conversation would be hard. I never want my words to come across as appreciative of the treacherous road of infertility. This has not been my cross to bear. So in the beginning, I just listened.

I understand the fear.

I empathize with the unknown.

I sympathize with the tears they shed.


And then the young woman said this: “I had so wanted to experience the real and natural aspects of becoming a mom.” And this flew from my mouth: “We serve a God born of the most unnatural birth – a virgin birth.”

And I swear by all that is in me, this wisdom was not of my tiny brain.

The sounds of the coffee house echoed about me, and I desperately tried to regain my presence in the conversation. But, those words, words that profoundly impacted this couple, were not mine. And as I sat down to write this tribute to our adopted son this morning, I had no idea what to say. I had hoped that the words would be eloquent and wise… but the truth is, I am a weepy wreck today, and real life has taken its toll this week.


In motherhood, there is the supernatural and the hum drum of every day. Like the biological aspects that are attributed to birth, there is also the mystery of how that possibly works to make a real human being. The same goes for every other way a woman becomes a mom… there is the paranormal, and there is the usual.

The events of that day four years ago and the events of the years before and the events up until now are a blur. Life happens. Sam is one of us. Being that he is one of us, he is subject to the shortcomings and realness of my motherhood, and the lunacy of this life.


The romantic aspects of an adoption story are not celebrated daily. He is funny. He is a character. He is bossy and fickle. He is fully boy, fully vandal and fully pugnacious. The picture of him in the hospital nursery speaks volumes to me. Not of just an orphan infant, but of the real boy I know. The boy I love.

This boy who says, “I like you,” instead of “I love you” is all Amerine. His genetics are not an issue. He is our son. Today as I eagerly dropped him at Mother’s Day Out, I felt the twinge of guilt, “I should spend the day with him, today is our anniversary…” But the reality is, I have a list of things to do, and Sam is safe and secure and – one of us.


This day four years ago holds special and tender meaning – but it doesn’t separate Sam from us as uniquely adopted or different or unnatural. Rather, it joins us.

This day I wonder about his birth mom. I pray she is well. I wish we could talk. I am grateful for her bravery and love. But I most think of her on Saturday mornings. Any given Saturday morning she crosses my mind. I picture her making pancakes, cartoons blaring in the background, her other children wrestling on the rug. I wonder if on Saturdays if she thinks of Sam too. No rushing around to get kids to school, no buses to catch or lunches to pack. I wonder if she dreads Saturdays – when there is more time to think.

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This day I get choked up thinking about a young interpreter, unmarried, without children of her own. She sacrificed much to make sure “Little man” was not alone. She laid with him and ate ice cream and told him stories about a mommy and daddy that were coming for him soon. She prayed with him for us. And this is dear to me, and I hope someday it will be dear to Sam. But on any other day, when I think of that sweet interpreter, I am grateful for the man she met and married, a man who adores and appreciates her. I rejoice that she now is a mommy of a beautiful baby girl. This day, when I met and hugged her for the first time is special, but our ongoing real friendship is what matters most.


This day was the day I learned about love at first sight.

This day was the day I was handed a 7-pound bundle and the weight of his life physically knotted my entire gut.

This day my heart broke for a stranger with empty arms who chose life, birthed life and walked away.

This day I have no make-up on, and I have cried 12 times since my alarm went off.

This day I put Sam in time out twice before 7:30 am.


This day… I could scrap book the memories, or simply ponder their reality. In the overall scope of great days, four years ago was epic, today is just typical.

And I remember the young couple at the coffee shop asking me questions about adoption, and I remember the buzz of the crowded coffee house, and I remember the last question she asked, “Do you feel like a real mom to him?”


And I get asked this in other forms in my daily life as mom to Sam.

It is my least favorite question.

“Where is his real mom?”

But now I can answer, and this is me, not some out of body, spirit-led statement.

Sam’s mom is right here – and I point to my heart.

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She is a creation born of wait, hope and the urgency for things to be different and better. She is sacrifice. She is folly. She is a combination of his genetic mother and his mommy. The mommy who paddled his bum this morning for throwing a tantrum because I wouldn’t let him have coke for breakfast. Later she is the woman who cuddled with him and buckled him in his car seat to take him to pre-school. She is the physical mother who is braver than anyone I know and a shadow of mystery which can never be found. She is metamorphous of the biology that is human birth and the gift of adoption.

Real moms are birth moms, adoptive moms, step moms, foster moms and childless moms.

Real moms are women who love fearlessly and bravely.

Real moms sacrifice themselves to do what is the very best for a human in need.

Biology births children. Heart and soul birth real moms.

Today is the anniversary of the day I learned the meaning of “real mom.” Today is the anniversary of the day that I fully embraced the agony of another woman’s love – the sacrifice of “real” mom and became one myself.

Today, January 6, 2016, is also every day. Like no other, and the same as yesterday and tomorrow. A day in the life of the Amerines. A roast in the crock pot, laundry to be folded, boys being boys, mischief, chaos, prayer, laughter, and tears… a real boy and his real mom.

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Happy Anniversary Sam, keep it real son.

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