There are moments in all our lives that change our hearts forever. Sometimes we recognize these moments as they are happening, and other times we do not fully understand just how profound the moment was until years later. On May 22, 2011 when I was passing through Airports and boarding planes on my way to Utah, my heart wanted to shout to every person I passed.
I could not stop smiling and I wanted everyone to know why.
September 15, 1992 was the first of many life and heart changing moments for me.
I gave birth to a beautiful 8lb 7oz baby boy.
I then spent the next 3 days nursing, examining, cuddling, loving and memorizing everything I could about him. I was 18 years old. I had never been in love before,
I had already made the decision to place him for adoption and I had already chosen the family. I knew this was the right decision. But knowing I was doing the right thing for my son did not remove the hole that would be left in my heart or the pain from the emptiness that would remain.
1994, I married my best friend and 9 months later Samantha was born. As I held her for the first time, I asked if she was really mine to keep.
1997, Tyler was born. And in February of 2000 our little Sabrina was added to our family. Then in August of 2000 I had a Hysterectomy.
We dream and make plans and have expectations of what we think our lives will turn out like. But life and circumstance does not always meet our expectations. Our hearts must learn to adapt and accept and eventually make new plans and new dreams. I dreamed of more kids. My heart knew there were more. And in July of 2005 we adopted a beautiful baby boy, George Austin.
This would prove to be another heart altering moment. As I watched Shay grieve openly as she was handing me her baby boy my heart relived the pain she was feeling. I cried all the way home from the hospital. I was so confused at how my heart could be so filled with joy as I held my new baby boy – and at the same time I cried tears of unexplainable pain for Shay. I knew all to well the emptiness that would remain.
I used to think that once I had my own kids I would forget about Andrew. I used to tell my heart that he belonged to someone else and he was not mine to love. But every year on his birthday – like clockwork – I would have a complete meltdown.
I was a busy mom with 4 beautiful and wonderful kids. But there were so many nights I would lay awake and talk with GT about what Andrews life might be like. We would talk about what he probably looked like and how cool the day would be when I finally had the chance to meet him.
Being a mother has taught me many hard and wonderful lessons and I continue to learn hard and wonderful lessons. But being on both sides of adoption has added a greater depth and a new dimension to being a mother. I am a Birth-mother, and an Adoptive-mother. And the common thread between all these mothers is the love of a child and the sacrifice they all require.
Fast forward to Sept 15, 2010. Andrew turned 18 and I was living in Mexico. You can read that blog post here. Then in Feb of 2011 I received an inbox on facebook from my brother. He had run into Carol (Andrews adoptive mom) at a restaurant and she gave him her email address and asked him to please have me email her. I was curious and anxious. By this time we had moved from Mexico and were now living in Tennessee. So I emailed her and waited, and waited and waited. I thought maybe something had changed. Maybe Andrew was having second thoughts about contacting me, and maybe that was not what he wanted at all. Maybe there was something wrong with his health. My mind was going through every awful scenario. And then it came – finally a response! Andrew wanted me to take his senior portraits for his graduation announcement. But I was in Tennessee. I immediately sent a reply telling her I would love to (unsure of HOW I would get there) and praying that he had not already had them taken.
A few days later I had a message on my phone. It was Andrew!! I listened to the message over and over as I cried. Hearing his voice for the first time. He was so sweet and a little nervous, he wondered how to address me not sure what to call me. Even now, the thought of hearing his voice for the very first time brings a smile to my face.
My sweet parents bought me a plane ticket and I flew to Utah the next day. My flight was not going to arrive in Utah until a little after 10pm; but during my layover in Phoenix I got a text from Andrew. He wanted to know if he could pick me up from the airport. Oh my! I told him it would be a late flight and a long drive to my parents house. But he said he would be honored.
OH - be still my heart!
This was all happening so fast – I needed time to process it all.
I arrived in Utah. It was a beautiful clear and calm night. I was fumbling with my bags and getting texts from him.
“are you here?”
“I am out front”
And before I could text back there he was standing in front of me.
Tall – VERY tall,
He took my bags,
he hugged me,
he smelled like a man – not the baby I remember.
He sounded like a man.
He opened my door.
And then we talked, for nearly 2 hrs. We laughed, I cried occasionally, we shared stories. He told me he had had sweaty palms and butterflies all day- ME TOO!
I did not fully understand how deep my love was for Andrew until I was holding his hand in mine and my mind was flooded with memories of the last time I held his tiny hand in mine. And in that moment as my eyes could no longer contain the emotion welling up to the surface,
I felt as if my heart would burst with love.
He said he was waiting for the production crew with doves and music. I told him he watched the Locator to much. It is strange to meet again after 18 yrs and recognize myself in him. I could not get over how much he looks like me.
And then there are his mannerisms and expressions.
There is too much emotion to even begin to put it all into words.
We got to my parents house sometime before midnight (I think) He carried my stuff into the house and met my mom. Then we made plans to meet for breakfast and decide on clothes and locations for pictures.. He asked if he could drive back out and pick me up for breakfast.
I went to bed that night and I am pretty sure I smiled in my sleep.
The next morning we had breakfast at Mimi’s Café and then went to his house to put outfits together. As I am sitting on his bed watching him go through his closet I look over at his window seal and there sat the silver bracelet I had given to him on his 1st birthday.
It was sitting in its case with a very warn finish. =)
The rest of the day went too fast and I kept asking God for a pause button so I could soak it all in. We went to the mall, then back to his house, he showered, we took pictures, then went to dinner, drove around and shared more stories till 10 or 11 pm and then he drove me back to my parents house.
This day was unreal – I felt like I was high.
Like maybe Andrew was crack cocaine! (although… I have never tried crack cocaine) I had never experienced anything like the state of euphoria I was in.
I wanted more!
As I was lying in bed I got a text.
Are you still awake? I just wanted to say goodnight and I love you.
It was from Andrew.
I awoke the next morning and sat a while in my bed. I kept wondering if the day before had actually happened or if it had been the most wonderful dream.
It was Monday morning and Andrew had school and soccer practice. But he asked if we could hang out again after his practice. So I had coffee with a friend and then worked on his pictures. He picked me up around 6:45 pm and we went to dinner.
Talking with him was so easy and natural. I had a million questions. He answered them all. Never awkward or uncomfortable. And it seemed as if nothing was off limits – like we could talk about anything. He took me back to my parents house later that night and as he was hugging me goodbye…
I knew that my heart would never be the same again.
There was healing
I flew back to Tennessee Tuesday morning with a greater appreciation and understanding of my magnificent Maker. I was not expecting nor even thought to ask for this incredible reunion. But God knew EXACTLY where I was at and what my heart would need to begin healing.
We pass people everyday on the street, at school, in the grocery store. We may smile and say hello never knowing what is going on in their lives, never knowing the condition of their heart.
But God knows.
This will not be the end of this story and I wait with anticipation for God to unfold the next chapter.