I see it time and time again, beautiful pictures of an adoptive mother seeing her child for the very first time. She's covered her mouth with a hand and tears are filling her eyes. It's caught forever, that incredible moment of love, joy, amazement and instant motherhood.
I don't have a picture like that of me.
I guess I could have faked it. I could have used every dime of my theatre degree to glaze my eyes over with tears. I could have reacted the way 90% of moms do which is exactly the way I imagine I should respond. And, truth be told, I feel sad and sorry because that wasn't my reaction with either of the children who have come to me through someone else's womb. But, in all honesty, it wasn't how I reacted to the son I carried either.
Of my four children, I only sobbed the first time I held one of them and that was because her heart was still. The ones that were breathing and moving and peering at me through eyes I'd longed to gaze into for forever, caused no immediate or intense emotional reaction.
In part, I suppose it's denial. I'd waited for each of them in painful ways and, once they got here, I think there was a part of me that was holding back, afraid to have that instant and overwhelming bond. Most of it is that people are always looking at me. If you'd put me in a room alone with each of my boys, I'm certain the tears would have flowed freely just as they did when the door closed and it was just Kate, me, and a flood of wounded grief--except in place of grief would be relief and joy. But there have always been doctors, nurses, and adoption coordinators standing by, watching that intensely personal moment.
The robot in me can't share the space. Because of that, none of my boys have a picture of their mother in awe, overcome by emotion. And so, they may forever think that their entrance into my life was without fanfare. They may wonder if I felt any kind of sudden attachment to them. There is, after all, no proof.
I just recently saw a beautiful picture of an adoptive mother seeing her boy for the very first time. I stared at it, wishing there was a picture of me looking that very same way. Instead, there are pictures of me holding them with stoicism written boldly across my face.
There aren't pictures of Garrett waking me in the middle of the night when he was six hours old, my newfound maternal instinct pulling me from a deep sleep as I flew into motion with that first cry. There's no picture of him, cradled against my body an hour later, as silent tears of joy dampened his head in the dark.
No one was there to take a picture of me staring through the window at Matthew before I was allowed to hold him. He wailed and I wiped tears from my eyes. All I could think about was getting to him so that I could hold him and make it stop, a non-biological maternal instinct that I found to be both surprising and beautiful.
There weren't hidden cameras when it was finally just Will and me and he snuggled into my body like we were always meant to be together. There were so many emotions, so much surprise that he was mine, so much to do to get him home, that my tears for him came later, in the privacy of my own bedroom, staring into his eyes and realizing the full weight of the miracle.
I wish I was a lovely person with lovely pictures to tell my story. Instead, these boys will have to settle for the words I splatter onto a page. Words about how they each came into my life and, behind the veil of privacy, I was finally able to really see them. And what I saw was glorious, miraculous, and life changing. What I saw were souls and smiles and blessings. What I saw were my babies. And I put my hand over my mouth and tears sprung to my eyes because they were perfect.