Tuesday, 10 November 2015

All That We Lack


My mom told me once that each night as my four siblings and I were growing up she would pray at the end of the day that Mother Mary would make up for any lacking she may have experienced that day as a mother.  That if there were any failings in her mothering that Mary would make up for them with the perfection of her motherly love.

I find this concept so beautiful and reassuring.  Although I have always had a deep love for Mary, since becoming a mother myself, my devotion to her has grown in so many ways.

When we were in Canada this past summer, we met and spoke with a woman from Sri Lanka.  I thought nothing of it until later, when W and I were snuggling reading a story before bed that night.  I shut the book and he asked me in a quiet, tentative voice "Mommy?  Today I saw that other mommy didn't I?"  At first I was couldn't think what he meant.  "The mommy from Sri Lanka.  I saw her today.  She looks just like me."  I said "Oh sweetie, that woman was just a friend.  She does come from Sri Lanka but she isn't your Sri Lankan mommy."  He considered this for a moment and then asked "But where is she then?"  And then the words that you always know will come someday but not usually at 6 years old "Why didn't she want me?  Do you think she misses me?  Do you think she cries for me?  Does she love me?"

I was glad the room was dark because I could feel tears filling my own eyes.  I willed my voice to remain calm and steady and tried to answer as best I could "W, she did want you very much and I know that she loves you and misses you everyday.  She couldn't keep you there though so now you are here with us, in our family and we are so glad.  We love you so much."

"But why do you want me?"

Why do you want me?  How does anyone answer this question sufficiently?  If it were a teenager or an adult asking, there is so much more one can say, so many complex things that can be explained and spoken of and understood but answering a young child is different.      

I chose the simplest way and said "We want you because we love you and you are a part of our family.  We couldn't imagine life without you.  We will always want you.  Forever."

I wondered later, are these the questions that will follow him through his life as he grows?  My heart felt heavy and sad.  Not because he had asked about his biological mother but because my own explanations are so inadequate.  I've thought about these things for years but I have no perfect answers.  

After I had tucked him in and walked down the stairs, I sat out on the porch swing and remembered Mary.  This was something I could entrust to her.  She is my mother and the mother of us all so I asked her to especially be a mother to my little son whose heart is full of questions.  That she would make up for in him, everything that I can't provide, everything that this world can't provide.

We are so fallible.  The world so imperfect.  Love, so willing but also so complex, so fraught with pain at times.

When W asks these questions, I know I am not responsible for this lack in his life, I am not lacking, but something is.  A loss that is deep and primal is being mixed with something beautiful and spiritual.  This to me is the essence of adoption.  Loss and gain.

It is a deeply spiritual bond.  A forging.  I believe we are spiritually and eternally bound, not only to our two children, but to their families and their ancestors as well.  This bond is imperfection made beautiful.  Made perfect in the desire to love.

In human love, there is always failure and imperfection.  In my own love, there will always be imperfections, places my love isn't able to heal or to reach or places I am not willing or able to go.  There will be times I fail. 

So I entrust my children to God's perfect love and to the perfect love of Mary, Mother of Jesus and to the love of her husband, Saint Joseph, an adoptive father himself.

I pray that they make up for all the ways this world and the people in it and love itself, are lacking.


  1. Just like everything you write, this is so beautiful, so moving, so powerful. Tears filled my eyes as I read your words. You are so talented and such a beautiful person, Colleen. Your son is so lucky to have you as his mother.

  2. Those adoption questions are so hard to face sometimes. As a birthmom, I have to answer similar questions to my children that I do parent, "Why can't she just live with us now?" "Will you give us away too?" God helps me answer those questions the best that I can when they arise and I pray I'm saying the right things to help them process! Sometimes it is enough just to validate their feelings that it makes us sad sometimes. But, I can tell you from a birthmother's perspective, she does cry for him. She does miss him and that void in her life, nor his, can never be replaced. Be open for him to understand his roots even if he never meets her, knowing that he has your support as his mom to explore will mean the world to him and make him feel secure. Let him know how much he IS wanted and loved, by both of you. <3

    1. Thank you Leah, I can't tell you how much I appreciate hearing another side to this. I strive to be as open with him as possible and I have the deepest respect and love for his biological mother.
      Thanks for sharing your experience with me. <3

  3. It is a difficult situation for both of you,but for a tiny boy it must be very overwhelming .Your love is a marvelous support but when YOU love him so much it sets him wondering why SHE could not keep him.
    He is in good hands-no doubt about it.

    1. Thank you Indu! And he is a questioning little boy, I think some children might not wonder much at all but he does. And he is very interested in Sri Lanka and it's food especially (a little foodie!!;) but who knows, our other son might not express any interest in his past at all! It will be interesting to see.:) Thank you for your kind words!

  4. How beautiful. Praying you through these hard moments- when answers don't come easy and can hurt.

  5. Beautiful post Colleen... truly moving. To entrust all that Mother Mary (or any God) to compensate for what we missed not only gives us reassurance, but also keeps us humble - it shows that we are infallible, as you said.

    God knows that we need humility and love today more than ever. And I sincerely hope that some day you can give him the answers that will wipe off all doubts about your love for him from his mind.

    1. Thank you very much. What thoughtful words.

  6. I sat and read this with tears in my eyes its so beautiful 💛

  7. As a mother I know how difficult it is to answer a child's question - innocent but layered in complexities. But I can only imagine the kind of questions children who are adopted ask their parents.

    Your son is in good hands Colleen. We can only do our best and leave the rest to God. Sending you a big hug right now.


Thank you so much for visiting! I enjoy reading your comments!