This guest blogger is my childhood best friend, Andrea Esh.
Chill to the core and one of my favorite people in the world.
Here is her adoption story.
To some that word strikes fear. To others, discomfort. To some, a bond broken. To me it is a tender ache. Not towards my own mom, but my two youngest daughter’s birth mother. My husband and I call them The Ziolkowskis, her last name, because so much of what they do reminds us of her. When they grab ice cubes out of the freezer, gnawing and chomping, it is a precious reminder of her. They carry her trauma in their bodies, and no distancing will erase the fact that another person lives deep in the veins of my children.
When we decided to adopt, one of my dreams was that I would be able to invite the birth mom to my child’s birthday party. It was a fire inside me, I can’t explain it any other way. It wasn’t a feeling that I believed I should come to have– it was a desire already there.
Here’s the thing: I know many adoptive parents don’t feel the same way about this as I do. My way of thinking is not THE way, it’s A way. If you are in a situation that allows you to be friends with your children’s birth mom, there is a case to be made for a friendship.
We cannot, must not, delete her.
Our two youngest daughters both came into our homes through one birth mom, Allison. She was always easy for me to love. With our first adoption, our relationship was simple and sweet. I took her to doctor appointments, laughed when she broke hospital rules, and tried to force her to wear compression stockings. After the baby was born we went through stages of talking and stages of distance.
When we were asked if we wanted to sign up to adopt her sibling, two years later, our relationship became much more complex. At the time, I was overwhelmed. I had a 2-year-old who needed to be watched every waking hour. I was worried that the new baby would have the hyperactive behaviors that her sister had. I was worried there wouldn’t be enough of me to reach. My husband and I knew that we wanted to adopt this second Ziolkowski, but the details of how it all would work out kept me up at night.
Allison decided to parent when baby Jasmine arrived. Some weeks later she reached out, asking for me to take guardianship of the baby. We didn’t get to parent Jasmine from the start, but when we did start parenting her, she arrived at our house alongside her birth mom. That’s right, birth mom and baby and adoptive mom all in the same house, while the birth mom was figuring out the next steps of her life and the adoption itself was in limbo. That is a lot of hormones!
Allison parented Jasmine during the night and I did during the day. We called each other “my baby-mama.” (I know- so weird!) She added so much value and love and affection to our home in the eight months she lived with us. I learned she is much better at remembering weights and birth dates than me. Her reactions to a child in danger are 100% faster than mine. She is more naturally affectionate than I am. She always, always had a cup of ice, chewing all day.
After living with us for five months, she signed the adoption paperwork. We finalized the adoption, with her in the courtroom weeping. She stayed with us a few more months and then moved on.
We are not always on the best terms. Sometimes she is unhealthy and stays away. Other times I am unhealthy and don’t reply to her messages. Sooner or later we meet up for dinner and start over. It is one hundred percent complicated, and one hundred percent worth it.
So, here’s to one of the most complex relationships in my life -my children’s other mother. My children know and love her.
Hi, I’m Andrea Esh. I’m a wife to one, and a mother to five, ages 3-13. A lifelong learner- I love books and writing. I spend my days managing my home, doing HR/accounting work part-time, and shuttling kids to all of the places.