I’m sitting in a sterile waiting room. I just met my daughter’s mom. My daughter’s “real” mom. My foster daughter’s biological mom.
It’s been almost two years that her daughter has been my daughter – yet we’ve never even seen each other, never spoken, never touched. And each of these things has just happened. My heart and body don’t quite know how to take it in.
This strange woman and I are deeply, divinely connected by the little girl we both love. I imagine that we’ve both shed tears, smiled smiles, and whispered prayers over this little girl.
In three weeks a judge will take away her legal rights as this little girl’s mother – our daughter’s birth certificate will show only my name as her mother. This woman was first stripped of her relationship as mother and will soon be stripped of her rights as mother; but nothing can take the biology that makes her a mother.
People always comment how much my foster daughter looks like our family; no one can tell the difference between my little girl and my other kids. But I can tell the difference. The green eyes that we can’t trace to anyone, the fair skin that burns in the sun, the thin hair that doesn’t quite match. I see her in her. I see the constant reminder of my childlike definition of adoption: “you’re my daughter, but you grew in another mommy’s belly.”
There’s a quote from Jody Landers that I’ve read and smiled over before: “A child born to another woman calls me Mommy. The magnitude of that tragedy and the depth of that privilege is not lost on me.” I’ve never felt the truth of this quote as much as I do right now. This woman that my little girl calls “the other one mommy” is just that. Her other mommy. My daughter was carried in her womb for nine months, carried in her arms for eleven months, and will carry her DNA within her forever.
I want this time of sitting and contemplating this to come together all wrapped up with a bow and a clean, easy answer, but I don’t know that there is one. She’s always had another mom; her story has always been defined by neglect, abuse, loss, and healing; she’s always been destined to be completely, wholly, forever my daughter. As I walk out of this waiting room, as the judge labels her “orphan” in a few short weeks, and as I sign my name as “mother” on her birth certificate, I will remember and embrace and celebrate all the parts of our daughter’s story.