On any given day I have 5 kids. They are my kids. The end. Except on August 26... every year.
I am a "that day" kind of girl. On special days I reminise about what was happening on that day last week, last year, 4 years ago. On my kid's birthdays every year I think, "5 years ago at this time we were getting ready to go to the hospital, 9 years ago at this time I was holding you for the first time." Except for Cooper. On Cooper's birthday I feel the whole gammit of emotions. I was not there the day my son was born. I don't know what room he was born in, I don't how his mom was feeling when he was born, I don't know if he was snuggled or just left in his baby cradle. I wasn't there, I don't know.
In our house we talk about the fact coop is adopted. It's kind of a non issue. Something I love is, somehow, it has become a coveted title. Poor unsuspecting visitors will come over and we will introduce everyone and Cooper will pipe up with, "I'm adopted," then the other kids will start bickering, "no! I'm adopted, NO!! I'm adopted!" Our poor visitors kind of look at me, shocked, like, I don't know what to do, are they for real, are they joking....they should prob just run at this point because it ain't going to get any less awkward as the evening goes on. In our house, being adopted raises your cool status quite a bit. I love it.
The other day I was driving in the car with the kids. Coop asked me if I was going to vote for Hilary Clinton (side note, this is not a political post. It is part of this story) because she would be the first female president. I said, "you know what buddy, it would be super cool to have a female president, but I could never vote for her." Now, Clay and I have decided to not shut down conversations because they may seem hard or uncomfortable, we feel like if the kids are asking pointed questions they didn't come from nowhere. They are thinking about things, and as much as it is appropriate for their age, we will talk about it. So, he was shocked and asked why. I said, "well, she believes in something called abortion, and I can't vote for someone that says that's ok." "what is abortion mom?" "Well, some people think that when a baby is in a Momma's belly it's not really a baby, its just a clump of cells, so a mommy can decide that if having a baby is too much work or inconvenient or maybe she got pregnant and feels like she doesn't have any help she can go to a dr and they can kill their baby while the baby is in her belly." Silence. Processing. "Mom! why would anyone do that!?! If you did that we wouldn't have Rose, or Jude or anyone! What if the mom that had me did that? That is not right mom, why is that allowed." I was undone. He gets it. He gets this amazing thing called adoption. (Once again, I know their is so much more to be said, so many more factors, but for my 8 year old, this was as far as we were going.)
When we talk about Cooper's adoption we just say "you know buddy, Your momma knew she couldn't take care of you so she decided that someone else needed to be your momma and daddy. And God knew from the beginning of time that you were a Nettles. Being adopted is just part of your story." That's it. For now, he feels confident in that and our love. One day he may need more answers. One day he might need to speak to a counselor to work through all the deeper issues of that, and we will be by his side to walk him through that, but, for now, he is content with this.
So, on Cooper's birthday every year I process. I will forever be indebted to another women for carrying and birthing my son. She bares the scars of the child she carried and chose to give life. She may have made some terrible decisions along the way. Those decisions may have put my son at risk when he was a tiny baby. But she gave him life. Her decision gave me my son. In a society that allows for quick disposal of human life I will be forever grateful, that for whatever reason, Cooper's birth mom chose life for him. I do not deserve this gift and I will not waste it. He is my joy and my treasure.
We did not get Cooper until he was 9 months old. A woman I worked with at the time sacrifices her life every day to be a foster mom. She cared for my baby until I could. She woke up with him in the middle of the night to feed him. She cared for him when he was oh so sick. In a sense his foster mom gave him life also. She chooses life every day, even when it is hard and could give all those babies back. She chooses life for them. I can never repay her.
Adoption is the most amazing miracle. Like maybe more amazing than childbirth (I can say that, I've done it a few times.) Another human grows your children. My son's story is being written every day, and every August 26 I think about the fact that I wasn't there for the beginning of his story, but I get to watch it unfold everyday and it is the most amazing thing to see. So, though I am a bit sad because I can't play out Cooper's day of birth like I do for my other kids, I remember that God has chosen me to be his mamma and that is the most beautifully amazing thing I could ever fathom.