On my most recent trip to China, I got to spend an entire day with two of my kids. Well, officially in the eyes of the US and China, they aren’t my son and daughter on paper. But from the moment I met them in a small orphanage in 2006, I have loved them as my own. Absolutely in my heart….I will forever be their mom. I wake up thinking about them and go to bed praying for them, just like my other seven kids on this side of the ocean who legally share my name.
Since returning from China and seeing them, I have thought so much about what makes a family. What does it mean to be someone’s mom? All of us who are adoptive parents know it certainly isn’t something as simple as DNA.
With Mother’s Day coming up so quickly on Sunday, I couldn’t help but look up the official definition of “Mother” this week. When I saw the first description of the word, as a noun, I gave a little snort.
Mother (noun): A woman in relation to a child to whom she has given birth
Obviously I think they left out a few things on that one. But then my eyes went down to the next line, where the word “Mother” was used as a verb.
Mother (verb): To bring up a child with care and affection
Anyone who knows me knows I am all about verbs. : ) Love as a noun is a wonderful thing of course, but love as a VERB, in action, is what moves mountains. And when I think about all of the wonderful moms I know in this world, I honestly never think about whether or not they actually gave birth to their child, I only think about all the incredible things they DO for the ones they cherish. They would move heaven and earth to help their kids grow up whole and happy. They bring up, raise up, lift up those around them. And whether that means sitting up all night with a child who is sick, or putting on their best Mama Bear face as they get ready to walk into yet another IEP school meeting, or answering the phone at 3 a.m. when their freshman in college just needs to hear a familiar voice……. moms are the very definition of love in action.
Yesterday I had a long discussion with a teenage girl who told me that Mother’s Day is always very hard on her, because she doesn’t have a close relationship with her mom. I know for many adoptive parents, it is a complex day as well, since so many of us are thinking of our children’s birthparents. What I told this young lady, however, was to remember that Mother’s Day is the perfect day to celebrate all of the women in your life who have made you who you are today.
There is a reason why when someone says, “She was like a mom to me,” it doesn’t mean anything at all about sharing genetic material. It is one of the highest compliments one could ever receive, because it is the definition of mother as a VERB. It means someone who was there for you, who cheered for you and fought for you and never gave up on you. May we all be so blessed to have a special woman like that in our lives.
So here’s to all the moms out there who deserve to be honored this weekend. Here’s to moms who admit they are perfectly imperfect. Here’s to those who make mistakes and lose their tempers and feel overwhelmed at times, and yet get up each day and once again try their best for their kids.
May this Sunday be a celebration of just how much this world needs more women like you – and a reminder to each of us that we can all impact the lives of the children around us (no DNA required) just by truly being there.
Happy Mother’s Day everyone!
Happy love in action.
~Amy Eldridge, Chief Executive Officer