I think of my husband and myself as brave. After all, we have embarked on one of life's ultimate adventures: an international adoption. We put on our bravest faces every day when we pass the still baby-less nursery, when friends and family continue to ask, Any news yet?, when no one seems to understand how difficult it is for us to put our total faith in the hands of adoption professionals in a different country, and most of all, to wait when our arms ache for the presence of the daughter we know only from dreams and from pictures. Day after day, it amazes me that we keep persevering, having faith that our family will be united one day. It makes me very proud of us, but I can get a little self-pitying too. On those days when we're waiting for updates, when we feel so alone in our personal struggle, we need a sense of perspective that we won't take from those around us, unless they're adoptive parents themselves.
At least that was how we felt until we got the ultimate perspective in the form of a new personal heroine: our daughter's birth mom.
We received the DNA results required by the government for Guatemalan adoptions on a Saturday afternoon in April. My husband got our mail from the box and leafed through it while walking up our driveway. We were not expecting to get the results, which include scientific proof of parentage and a picture of your child in the arms of their birth mom, for another week, so we were surprised to find a large Labcorp envelope peeking out just in front of our junk mail. Anxious to see another picture of our daughter, and to finally see her birth mom's face, we tore the envelope open. What we saw inside can only be summed up as a revelation.
Imagine the emotions that you might feel when looking at a photograph of a work of art, such as the Mona Lisa, or a natural wonder such as the Grand Canyon . Take that sense of awe and wonder and multiply it by a million. That's what we felt when we saw the picture of our daughter's birth mom holding her in her arms. We were amazed by her beauty, her lips and skin and eyes a carbon copy of our daughter's. Most of all, we were silenced by the strength and courage that emanated from her birth mom's eyes, and by the admiration that this made us feel.
After all, in all of our bravery as adoptive parents, could we compare ourselves to this young woman, making the ultimate sacrifice of losing her child to provide her with a life of opportunity? Could our love ever be that brave?
We will never know the answers to these questions. Our love for our daughter will play a different role in her life. But what this experience of coming face-to-face with her birth mom's presence has shown us is that we must always honor her bravery; how could we ever downplay or ignore something so significant? Because although she is thousands of miles away, this woman will always be part of our parenting- that part which urges us and shows us how to be better parents every day by opening our hearts in the face of both easy and challenging circumstances. She will forever be a part of our lives as our family loves her in silence and in conversation. We will cherish the force of her birth mother's love so that our daughter may always know where her own brave eyes came from.
Violeta Garcia-Mendoza is a Spanish-American poet and writer living in Pennsylvania. She and her husband have just completed the Guatemalan adoption of their daughter, Maya, and are eagerly awaiting the completion of their son's adoption. Violeta's website is www.TurnPeoplePurple.com