Somewhere among the millions of China, my daughter’s birth mom lives. I don’t know her. I have never heard her voice. And yet, somehow, I feel a connection to her especially as Mother’s Day approaches.

Sometimes I hear Phoebe’s incredible belly laugh and watch the smile that fills her face, and my mind has a quick thought towards her birth mom- a mom whom I honor. Phoebe’s birth mom gave me an amazing gift.

A mere 61 days ago, I touched and held Phoebe for the first time – my little Chinese daughter. I will never forget this “birth” into my arms. As I reached for  my daughter, I was filled with both excitement and joy, but I was so mindful of Phoebe’s story that contained hard choices, tears, and loss. I still cannot put into adequate words the miracle and beauty of adoption –as well as the trauma and brokenness that precedes it.

I do not know Phoebe’s full story. But from the pieces I do know, I believe culture, policy, and poverty all played a part. I also believe Phoebe’s birth mom’s love for her child clashed with her reality, and she did the best she could.

  • In a land of the one-child policy (though this has recently shifted), many parents desire perfection in their only child and prefer a son.
  • In a land of “saving face,” often babies with cleft lip/palate are considered cursed.
  • In a province considered China’s least-developed and most-remote province, medical help remains scarce for the poor.

I have no doubt that Phoebe’s birth mom loved her and for that I honor her deeply. She placed her baby in a box, bundled in clothes and blankets. Inside the box, nestled into the blankets, lay a bag of formula and a bottle. This woman, seeing her cleft lip and palate did what she could do and placed her at a clean and safe orphanage. She then slipped off into the darkness.

I can only imagine the tears that came down her cheeks as she walked away in the dark. She walked away from Phoebe in pain; I walked towards Phoebe in anticipation.

I visited the place where Phoebe was left. Tears came as I stood where Phoebe’s life changed so drastically. If I could see Phoebe’s birth mom, I would tell her these three things.

  • You gave birth to a perfect child. Phoebe is beautiful. She has little dimples and a great smile. She is friendly and athletic, curious and brave. Her forever family cherishes girls. Please know, she fits into our family in an amazing way; she is one of us.
  • Through your sacrifice, Phoebe has received blessing. Out of all the families in the world, God chose us – a family who has been adopted by God. We see her lips as a blessing from God. She has the opportunity, due to her lips, to meet Christ and to allow her life to make an eternal difference. Because she will learn of Christ, our family now prays for your salvation. We trust that her blessing will lead to yours.
  • Through your concern, Phoebe will receive medical care. Surgeries are already scheduled. We will provide through the help of God.

We have read that some adopted children as they get older struggle on Mother’s Day weekend. They want to celebrate their mom (the one who adopted them), but their hearts question and wonder about their birth mom. At the suggestion of a friend, we are lighting an “Honor Candle” for Phoebe’s birth mom on Mother’s Day weekend (as well as on Phoebe’s birthday) to honor the woman who gave Phoebe life – who nourished her during pregnancy, who provided what she could, and who sacrificed so that she could receive a family that could help her receive care she needed.

I want Phoebe to know that we honor and we remember her past. Her beginnings are part of her story. Her first family matters.

And as we light this candle to honor Phoebe’s birth mom, our family will kneel and pray for her to hear of Christ and respond. Phoebe will grow up with her forever family interceding for her birth family and foster family. Though in a province least evangelized with the Gospel in China, we pray that they will hear the Good News and worship the One who started the whole business of adoption through His crucifixion and resurrection. It’s  just like God to bring this one child out of China and open salvation for her whole family because of the power he releases through prayer.

To Phoebe’s Birth Mom – “Thank you. Happy Mother’s Day.”

To Phoebe –I am proud to be called your mother. Someday those lips of yours will say “mama!” But for now, you are nestled safely in my arms close to my heart forever.

Join the Conversation: When you think of adoption, how do you generally think about the birth parents? How can we honor these women who choose to give life and then sacrifice for the sake of their child?