For all the joy that comes with adopting our children, there is also grief for the mothers and fathers who had to say goodbye to their kids.
Seven years ago...
I was trying to figure out how to nurse my baby girl.
My body was recovering from childbirth six days before.
We were closely monitoring our little one's weight with regular check-ups.
On the other side of the world, another mom was starting the same process, having given birth the day before to her first child, also a baby girl.
She fed her.
Her body recovered.
She and her husband did all they could to ensure her health.
Unlike me, though, she didn't get to celebrate the seventh birthday of her big girl.
As we cheered our precious girl turning seven yesterday, I couldn't help thinking of her first mother. In a perfect world, children would never need a second family. In the absence of disease, some of my children would never have become mine. While I am so very blessed to be their mother, I grieve too, because if our world was as it was in the Garden of Eden and as it will be in heaven, then I would never celebrate the birthday of a child to whom I didn't give birth.
Sometimes, in adoption stories, we craft the pre-adoptive history as dismal and post-adoptive stories as redemptive.
Sometimes, this is fair.
Most times, though, the pre-adoption stage had its own beauty. Just look at the common courtyard of the apartments where our newly seven year old daughter spent her days before their first family fell apart.
It's easy to glorify adoption.
But seven years ago today, another mother nursed her baby girl and expected her to walk these roads along with the rest of their family, including the siblings who would come.
I'm sure she never expected that her daughter would be going out to a birthday dinner at a restaurant in America seven years later, traveling different roads with a different family.
For the opportunity to raise her daughter and the two siblings who would follow, I am thankful.
But I'm a mother too, so I am also grieving over the hard realities that required another family - our family - to raise her children.
I hate that.
But I love this.
Such are the paradoxes of adoption.