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Becoming a Mother on the Other Side of the World

October 4, 2012

Mary Dreesen

Adoptive Parents

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Becoming a Mother on the Other Side of the World

Two smiling adopted children standing with their mother on a beach

My journey to motherhood changed me in both expected and surprising ways. There were the inevitable twists and turns, ups and downs along the way, but becoming a mother to my two sons has allowed me to find a passion and voice for orphans across the globe.

As I was growing up and as a young adult, I didn’t think much about motherhood. I rarely babysat and as I got older, I couldn’t understand why new mothers could only seem to talk about their child. Wasn’t there more to life than kids? But as I got older—and hopefully wiser—I started to experience that longing to become a mother. Maybe it was my biological clock ticking, but it was strong nonetheless. This is where my journey began.

After getting married, my husband and I endured the typical question that people ask after you marry: “When are you going to have kids?” At first, this was only annoying. However, after spending almost two years enduring doctor’s visits, treatments, and a miscarriage, this question became painful. But out of this pain came more blessings than I could ever have imagined. Looking back now, I am amazed that becoming a mother would happen by way of South Korea and international adoption. And not just once, but twice. I certainly never saw that coming. What an incredible journey of faith we would be taking on a path marked before us.

While the actual mechanics of each of our boys’ adoption process was the same (one occurred in 2007 and the other in 2010), they were also very unique. During each adoption, we were ecstatic only to then find the process either completely halted or endlessly waiting for government paperwork to be completed. We had been warned by our adoption agency (Dillon International) that international adoption was not for the faint of heart, and this is true. Nor is it for the impatient. We endured months of ups and downs. My emotions ranged from joy to disbelief, then anger, sadness, guilt, and ultimately thankfulness. I credit my faith in God and the prayers of so many for getting me through some very tough times.

When we received the referral for each of our boys, there was an instant connection with them that is difficult to explain. I knew immediately, even though I was only given pictures and a report, that these were my children. They needed me and I needed them. We were each other’s forever family. Unfortunately, we then had to encounter the not-so-fun aspects of adoption. I found myself in disbelief and was downright angry at things that were out of our and the adoption agency’s control. At this moment, I was reminded that this was a journey of faith and that is what I would cling to going forward. After successfully navigating through that maze for months, we were finally at the point of meeting our boys. We traveled to Seoul, South Korea to meet our older son, William, who was eight months old when we brought him home. I felt such overwhelming joy as I held my son after months of anticipation. We would occasionally receive updates and videos while we were waiting to travel, but they were also a little bittersweet. I was always thrilled for the update, but then saddened that our son wasn’t home yet. But once he was in my arms, I loved him as if I had given birth to him. I am still amazed at the heart’s capacity to love.

The meeting of our second son was just as incredible. Samuel was escorted home from South Korea, so our first meeting with him was at the airport. It was just as joyous, and watching William greet his younger brother was priceless.

Two smiling adopted children sitting in front of their parents on a lawn

Becoming a mother has obviously changed my life in the day-to-day routines. There were also some unique challenges that surprised us about bringing a second child into our family. We were concerned how that would affect our older son, but we were grateful that our agency was available to give needed insight, suggestions, and counsel. I am happy to report that all is well. I wasn’t expecting to experience such a deep and emotional life change. While the growing of my family was joyful, there were other sides to this story: a foster mother who grieved saying goodbye to the child she had been caring for and loving as her own, and a birth mother who made the courageous decision to choose adoption for her child.

This caused me to have feelings of guilt. So while I celebrate our family, my heart also breaks for the sacrifices of these women. This journey turned into an educational experience for me. It opened my eyes and heart to the needs of the millions of orphans in the U.S. and across the globe. Many will never experience the love of a mother and I want to somehow touch their lives. Even if it’s long distance, I desire to help provide for them. They all deserve care and love. After I adopted my sons, I decided to look for opportunities, great or small, that would help the life of a child. I enjoy being able to educate and bring awareness to the need as well as volunteer my time for fundraisers that specifically help bring families together as well as provide needed care to orphans in various countries.

Life as a mother is amazing. My boys serve as a daily reminder of all I have to be thankful for. And, yes, I did become one of those mothers who talks incessantly about her children. I get it now. I do try to keep that in check but if you ask me about my boys, be prepared to listen. I’ve been blessed, and I am thankful for the road I continue to travel. It’s an incredible journey.

Originally published in Mia Magazine, Winter 2011

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