Our waitress seemed anxious as she approached our table last night and very briefly greeted us before asking a bold question of complete strangers. “Are any of your children brothers and sisters?” All eyes turned to me. My husband and children waited for me to answer. The waitress seemed to be most eager for my answer as she shifted her weight from one foot to the other. I’m pretty sure several nearby tables had their ears tuned in to hear what I would say.
It is one of my least favorite questions and yet, one of the most common. I understand what it is that people want to know. They want to know if we’ve adopted a sibling group. They want to know if they are birth related. They are curious or nosey or bold or well-meaning. But, although I understand what they mean by their question, I also am fully aware that my children are listening. They are waiting to hear validation that yes they are brothers and sisters, yes, we are a real family.
So, last night, I had to decide which route to take in answering this least of my favorite questions. I decided to avoid the scenic route, after all, we were trying to make it to church on time. I decided to give a condensed but truthful answer. I reminded myself to smile kindly and said, “The girls are birth related.”
She seemed quite satisfied with this answer and quickly leaned a bit closer. Her eyes glistened as she whispered, “I placed two of my children for adoption.”
I had hesitated slightly in answering her initial question but, there was no hesitation as I spoke in response to her revelation. “God Bless You,” I said. “You must have loved them so much to make such a choice.”
She stood a little straighter. “Yes. Yes I did. I did what I did because of love, love for them and love for the four I am raising.”
All of this and we hadn’t even opened our menus. Throughout the meal as she took our orders, served our food and checked to see what else we needed, she continued to ask questions and to share about her own adoption experience.
She was very proud to have open adoptions with both families who had adopted her two children. I now know the states they where they live and their ages. She now knows that we were foster parents and that some of our children came to us as infants. I know her son who was adopted will turn 13 in August. She knows that Jeremiah is a musician. I know that she played the clarinet in her high-school band. She knows that we attend Church of the Highlands and that she is welcome there. I know the name of her home church.
It was amazing how much information was shared in brief exchanges once common ground was established. We were connected by the miracle of adoption. We stood on different stages, we discussed different children, we were different ethnicities, different in so many ways. But, we were alike because we were mommas who loved their children and our lives had been impacted by adoption.
As we prepared to leave at the end of our meal she put her hands to her eyes and said, “I’m sorry. I think I might cry.” I touched her elbow that was covered in a sweater that I noticed was a bit frayed. “I understand.” Was all I could say.
“So many people said I should have had an abortion. People thought that was better than adoption. But, I don’t believe in that.” I nodded in understanding and agreement.
As she walked away, my girls studied my face hard and then they asked a hard question. “What did she mean Momma?”
“She meant that she would rather her children live away from her than not live at all.” I told them and felt like I might cry.
We were almost late for service but we made it our seats just in time. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway, we had already been to a special meeting that God had arranged and I was glad.
The worship music was especially wonderful. The communion with our church family was especially tender. The message was especially challenging as we were taught about the importance of relationships and small groups. As an example of the impact that small groups can have, a video was shared about one particular small group. The members of that group shared a common grief. The group was for post-abortive healing. As they shared their stories, I thought of our waitress, I thought of the many women who are hurting, struggling, searching for healing, and silently saying in their hearts, “I think I might cry.”
Please hear me if you are one of those women. Please understand clearly that you are not alone, you are not condemned and it is okay to cry. There is healing available for you no matter what it is that grieves your heart.
“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”
Proverbs 27:17 NLT