Gifts for Mom, Grandparents, Besties and YOU🎄 ➔

A few days have passed since the whole world shouted out how amazing their mothers are. I was not left behind. Beautiful cards and flowers decorate our home. However, it’s the sweet faces around my table that are the most beautiful part of my life. Our lives together have been hard-fought. We are a family built by unexpected pregnancy, foster care, adoption and choice. It never fails on days like these where celebrations and cheers ring out that I am aware my celebration is the sound of heartbreak to someone else.

This particular Mother’s Day was different than most. I stayed home with my little ones while our son recovered from surgery. A small part of me was thankful to be home instead of at church– I am not much of a fan of church on Mother’s Day. While I love fellowshipping with other believers, Mother’s Day is complicated for so many, myself included. I happily sat with my two youngest as they colored at our dining room table. There were cereal bowls and milk mustaches, stealing each other’s crayons, and lots of shrieking. It was just like every other morning. It’s mornings like these that I think of her, their first mom. I have tried over the years to love her well, to be willing to see her beyond the heartbreak of her life. As I look at these two little ones I know I need to see her today. I need to see the woman who made me the mom of the milk mustached little ones I love.

Thankfully, my husband gets me, and he gets it, just how unconventional our life is. So I kissed my family goodbye and made the short drive to the women’s correctional facility in our state. I stood in line with my ID and my bag of quarters ready for the metal detector and the stern faced officer to signal my entry. I was finally let back and we sat across from one another, two women in a sea of mothers and children reunited for a brief moment. I watched mothers hold their children close and breathe them in, I saw weary caretakers, grandparents, foster parents and friends do the same thing I had come to do. Together we all hoped to offer encouragement and love as we try to fit in days, weeks, maybe even years of memories to share about the children these women brought into this world.

I spent our time telling her all about our children. I told her our sweet daughter is starting to read, how she taught herself to do a cartwheel and handstand. We discuss her love for PBJ and how excited she is that she’s able to take a break from OT and that day by day she comes out of her shell a little more. I answer all her questions big and small. We then talk about our little wonder boy. At two years old he just wants to fly. I try to demonstrate his beautiful smile. We speak of his therapies, but most of all we talk about how joyful and busy he is. She asks about his surgery, her eyes filled with tears. I reassure her it went well, and he continues to amaze us. For the first time she shares with me about her brother, saying my stories about our son remind her of him. How similar they both seem. Her brother was not placed in foster care with her. Instead he was sent to a group home for teen boys. He had once been her only protector and she lost him. First when he was sent to a group home, then as he was admitted to juvenile detention. Once there, he joined a gang to survive. He was murdered a few weeks after being released. The loss of her protector has shaped her life. It is not lost on me how she wanted to connect them, her brother and her son, both orphaned because of drugs, with very different outcomes. I know she cannot help to compare the life her children have with us versus what was offered to her and her siblings.

I remind her I am not perfect. I am not a perfect mother. I yell and get frustrated. I cry at night thinking I am failing them. I don’t want to live on a pedestal. My greatest hope is to love my kids well. She seems to understand that. As I prepare to leave, I try to encourage her. She will be leaving the relative safety of the prison walls soon. She is returning to the sameness of her life before. She finished drug and alcohol treatment, she completed many classes and received many certificates, but ultimately it’s her ability to apply what she has learned that will change things for her. I offer her the only truth I know– that she is worth more than what was given to her. She is loved. We love her. I give her a hug, and she whispers, “Thank you, thank you for loving my babies.” I walk to my car in tears. Life is beautiful and messy, and unfair. I get to go home to my babies– our babies. Her whisper of thanks speaks louder than any card could. It was offered despite her loss. I don’t know what will happen when she is released. I am hopeful, and fearful and just believing at some point she will believe in herself enough to thrive beyond the structure of prison walls. I hope this is the last Mother’s Day she celebrates in prison, and if it’s not, I will be back.

 

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Andrea Lemly

I am so lucky to call the incredible Pacific Northwest my home. Every day I am thankful for God's grace and mercy in my life. I am married to my high school sweet heart and blessed by a handful of people who call me mom. Our family was built by birth, foster care, adoption, and choice. I have a co-dependent relationship with coffee and love Costco like most people love Target. I am totally flawed and beginning to embrace that fact. I am passionate about encouraging others and embracing the life sustaining truth of hope in all circumstances. 

3 Things We Learned While Waiting For Our Adopted Child

In: Adoption
3 Things We Learned While Waiting For Our Adopted Child www.herviewfromhome.com

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in the baby carriage. Remember that old nursery rhyme? I can still hear it playing in my head. Growing up, I had always assumed that would be my story. The love and marriage part certainly happened for me in an amazing, storybook ending kind of way. However, the baby in the baby carriage didn’t come as quickly for my husband and me. As a few years passed, we began to feel a little restless and disheartened. However, God opened up His perfect plan for our family by leading us to...

Keep Reading

I Chose Adoption For My Baby, But I Didn’t Let Go

In: Adoption
I Chose Adoption For My Baby, But I didn't Let Go www.herviewfromhome.com

  I am often asked, when people find out I am a birth mother, “Why did you decide on adoption? Didn’t you want her?” In the tidy nutshell version of my response it was the logistical factors of being pregnant at just 16-years-old that was my why. Being a junior in high school when I saw those two pink lines in October of 2004, I still needed to graduate, plus I wanted to attend college. I did not have a job to support us. In fact, I did not have my driver’s license or even the few dollars it took...

Keep Reading

Dear Mama Reading This Right Now, You Are Amazing

In: Adoption, Child Loss, Miscarriage, Motherhood
Dear Mama Reading This Right Now, You Are Amazing www.herviewfromhome.com

To the one with healthy children in your lap, YOU are a great mom. Whether you work full-time or stay at home, you are amazing and deserve to be celebrated every day, but especially today. You sacrificed your body and your own well-being over and over again and I know you don’t regret any of it. You are enough and you are appreciated even when you don’t feel it. To the one holding a child someone else carried inside of her body, YOU are a great mom. Whether you faced infertility, surrogacy, chose to adopt, or have biological and adopted children,...

Keep Reading

4 Things a Birth Mom Wants Adoptive Families To Know

In: Adoption, Journal
4 Things a Birth Mom Wants Adoptive Families To Know www.herviewfromhome.com

The minutes on the hospital clock dwindled as I swaddled my infant daughter one last time before she was permanently placed in the arms of her adoptive family. In those final moments, I thought my heart might shatter into a thousand slivers without any hope of being mended. I was broken. Scarred. Devastated. When I left the hospital without my baby, it felt like someone was pounding on my chest with both fists and I couldn’t catch my breath. The emptiness that followed was inconceivable. A piece of me, my daughter, was gone. I couldn’t comprehend the magnitude of my...

Keep Reading

No Matter Life’s Season, God Provides What We Need

In: Adoption, Faith
No Matter Life's Season, God Provides What We Need www.herviewfromhome.com

When my husband and I adopted our older daughter Lilly 15 years ago, she was nine-months-old and weighed about 17 pounds. That might not seem like much, but she was a chunk of a little girl—so much so that people we met in elevators and restaurants in China often mistook her for a two-year-old. I had worked on my cardiovascular fitness in the months leading up to our adoption trip, and my regular runs on the treadmill prepared me to traverse the Great Wall with relative ease. My upper body strength, however, was a different story entirely. My arms and...

Keep Reading

Acknowledging the Loss in Adoption

In: Adoption
Acknowledging the Loss in Adoption www.herviewfromhome.com

  “Don’t do it! Adoption is the worst!” His voice echoed through my entire body, his words hitting every unprepared bone, and I clutched the full glass of ice water ready to plunge it in his direction. There were hundreds of people in the darkened bar room, on dates mostly, sitting in the crowd enjoying the comedy show. My insides twisted and lurched, I heard nothing but the reverberations of laughter, and my mind kept envisioning myself walking over to him and punching his face in. When the comedian began working adoption into her show, my body began tingling and...

Keep Reading

Adoption Is Love

In: Adoption, Journal
Adoption Is Love www.herviewfromhome.com

  I pull around in the car line and scan the group of kids for my daughter. Usually, I can find her easily, chatting it up with her friends as she waits for me to pick her up from school. Today, though, I don’t see her. I look again and I finally spot her. She is slumped on the curb, her head in her hands and her eyes downcast. My momma radar instantly goes off as I watch her slowly get up and drag her feet to the car and I can tell that something is wrong. She slides into...

Keep Reading

The Ache While We Wait to Adopt

In: Adoption, Faith
The Ache While We Wait to Adopt www.herviewfromhome.com

  There’s a persistent ache, but sometimes I can ignore it. I can turn up the volume of what’s around me and drown it out for a bit. I play hostess and invite the noise to come in: come fill up my heart, come fill up this empty nursery, come fill up this planner. I’ve got two kids, and they are experts at noise, so my days are full of it, and it works. The noise narcotizes the ache, making it manageable, day by noisy day.  In my former life as a teacher, I used to make my students write...

Keep Reading

How Being Adopted Made My Husband a Better Father

In: Adoption, Journal
How Being Adopted Made My Husband a Better Father www.herviewfromhome.com

My husband’s earliest memories of his adoptive mother are as blurry as the black and white photos he has taped inside a leather-bound family album. He recalls the gentle hands that tucked him into bed each night and the smell of her lavender scented soap, but these memories are intertwined with the last and most painful of all: sitting on the cold hospital steps, muffled whispers in the hallway, and the tight grip of his adoptive father’s hand as they made their way back to the car without his mother. Death was an abstract concept that he was unable to...

Keep Reading

Adoption Has Made Me a Better Mama

In: Adoption, Journal
Adoption Has Made Me a Better Mama www.herviewfromhome.com

I remember etching our family plans into a napkin at our two-year anniversary dinner. We were eating at Rio in Sisters, Oregon and I couldn’t wait to get back to the little cabin we had rented to watch Harry Potter and dream about babies. Weird combo? Probably. First we would conceive and carry a miracle baby in my actual womb. Then after a bit of time had passed, after we got “the easy one” birthed, we would enter into the adoption world. I think back to my barely 20-year-old self and think about how naive she was—I still only have...

Keep Reading