The other day, I was eating lunch with my sons when my youngest (a.k.a. The Bottomless Pit) asked if he could have some of my food. I, of course, was more than happy to share with him. He then proceeded to exclaim, “Mom, you’re the best! You’re the best mom I ever had!” I quickly responded, “Well, of course! You only have one mom, silly!”
As I do with many of the cute and funny conversations with my kids, I replayed the conversation in my mind, and it floored me a bit. Believe it or not, I don’t think about being an adoptee every moment of every day. Nevertheless, it surprised me a little that I completely forgot about the fact that, as an adoptee, I have two mothers—my birth mother and my mom.
My adoptive mom didn’t carry me in her womb for 9 months and it wasn’t her arms that held me when I first came into this world. She wasn’t there to see my first steps, nor was she there when I spoke my first words. I don’t even know if my birth mother was there to experience some of those milestones in my life. My birth mother loved me enough to bring me into this world, and it was her decision to abandon me almost 3 decades ago that led me to my adoptive mom.
My adoptive mom didn’t hold me the moment I was born, but it was her arms that were waiting for me when I arrived in that airport so many years ago. The little orphan girl who was placed in her arms suddenly had a family who loved her and wanted her. Her future that was once very bleak was now full of new and exciting possibilities. My adoptive parents’ embrace is where my life truly began.
During a conversation with my sister less than a year ago, I learned that when I first arrived, my mom literally slept on the floor in the hallway with me because I was too afraid to sleep in my room. When I was sick or hurt, it was my mom who wiped away my tears and nursed me back to health. It was my mom who tucked me into bed every night and woke me up every morning. It was my mom who hung my artwork from school on the fridge and filled my scrapbook with mementos from important events in my life. My parents were there for every basketball game, concert, school musical, and award ceremony—and those were just my activities! They somehow managed to always be there for my sister, my brother, and me. As a parent with only two children, I often wonder how they managed to seemingly do it all and be everything we needed them to be—and so much more.
When I went through the dark period in my life, my parents were always there for me. I know I hurt them a great deal with many of the choices I made, but they continued to love and support me. When I pushed them away, they pushed harder to show me that they weren’t going anywhere. There were many nights when my mom stayed up way past my curfew to make sure I made it home safe and sound. As nervous as it would sometimes make me (especially when I missed my curfew), knowing that she cared enough to make sure I made it home every night was a source of great comfort for me.
Growing up, whenever I scanned the crowd during games, concerts, plays, and ceremonies, I wasn’t looking for another Asian face in the crowd. I was looking for the faces of my parents—my mom’s blue eyes and blonde hair, and my dad’s blue eyes and dark hair. It never mattered to me that we didn’t look alike. All that mattered was seeing those familiar faces in the crowd and knowing that they were there for me, even during the years when I thought I didn’t need them.
My parents and I have spent decades laughing together, crying with each other, fighting with each other, and creating countless wonderful memories together. My mom and I rarely go a day without talking with each other. There are certainly days when we don’t have much to talk about, but I always find great comfort in hearing her voice on the other end of the phone. When I am having a rough day and need to vent, I know that my mom will be there to listen and make things better. Even at 30, I still find myself excited to share news with my parents, and I still work hard to make them proud.
When I think about the best mom I’ve ever had, I think of the only mom I’ve ever known. My birth mother sacrificed her relationship with me, while my mom (and dad!) made sacrifices to give my sister, my brother, and me the best lives possible. My birth mother is the one who brought me into this world, and we will always be connected, but she will never be the one I call “Mom”. Though my birth mother will always be a mother to me, my adoptive mom is the only one I will ever call “Mom”. My mom is the one who has shared my heart for 28 years. I truly believe that she was the mom I was always meant to have, and I feel blessed beyond measure to be her daughter. She is truly the best mom I’ve ever had.