From Another Mommy’s Tummy – Explaining Adoption

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Yesterday was World Adoption Day.

I was about eight years old when I learned that my mother was adopted. I’d asked why my grandmother had curly hair while my mom and I had hair so straight it refused to hold a curl for longer than an hour. My mom showed me her birth certificate and I kept returning to the drawer to take it out and look at it. I couldn’t imagine people calling my mom by the name on the paper instead of what her parents called her. I kept dreaming up various scenarios that could have led to her birth and adoption.

I wondered if I had uncles and aunts and cousins out there somewhere, or if I had uncles and aunts and cousins I might have actually met without realising who they were. I wondered if my mom’s birth mother thought about us as much as I thought about her.

It mattered less to me as I entered my teen years. My grandmother was my grandmother, regardless of biology. She was my mother’s mother.

Mommy and me.
Mommy and me.

A few years ago, my mother reconnected with her maternal aunt and she learned the whole story. I’m not sharing it here because it is not my story to tell. What I will say is that her birth mother’s decision to give my mom up for adoption was the best decision for my mother. That decision ultimately made it possible for my own daughters’ existence today, and so I am grateful to a woman I will never meet or know.

My daughters, Angie especially, are well aware that they grew in my tummy and were born via C-section. We explained it to Angie when Emmy was born. Even now, two years later, she remembers the pipes (IV) in my hand when she visited me in hospital, and she talks about the doctor “cutting Mommy’s tummy to get us out”.

When she asked how they got into my tummy, I told them God took a little piece of me and a little piece of Daddy and made them out of it, then put them inside me to grow.

A few months ago, she asked if I grew in my mother’s tummy, so I answered yes, then told her that my mother didn’t grow in my grandmother’s tummy. Wide-eyed, she asked, “Where did Nana come from?”

I gave her a very simple explanation of adoption, telling her that some mommies can’t grow babies in their own tummies and other mommies can grow babies but can’t look after them. I said that the mommies who can’t look after their babies give them to the mommies who want babies but can’t grow them.

Angie, aged 2, with her baby in a sling.
Angie, aged 2, with her baby in a sling.

I have no doubt we’ll revisit the issue many times as Angie gets older and her questions get more complicated, but for now, that was all the information she needed. “I can look after my babies,” she declared. “I’m going to grow them in my tummy.”

Oh, I hope that’s the case. I hope that she will get to be a mother the way she wants to be, but I also hope that if it’s not God’s will then she will be open to adopting a baby from another mommy’s tummy.

What are your thoughts on adoption?

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