Shortly before I met my husband, I had begun the process of qualifying to become an adoptive or foster parent in the state of New Jersey. I was blessed with the privilege of giving birth to one son, and I wanted to care for more children. After several months went by without progress, I contacted the agency only to find out that there was no record of my initial paperwork, or even of my application in the system, at all. It was only a few weeks later that God ushered my husband into my life — who came with two adorable little boys.
A Unique Relationship
I’m now a “stepmom.” Although the world is comfortable with that title, I’m not. These young boys might not have been born through my body, but they were certainly born into my heart even before I met them. My three boys are the children my heart desired. While I would never force my two “stepsons” to call me “Mom” or attempt to replace their birth mom, I’m perhaps, an honorary “Mom” in my own way. And in the way God has uniquely created our relationship, they’re mine and I’m theirs, in our own way.
The Privilege and the Challenge
The privilege of being in this role goes beyond what I expected, and it has renewed my understanding of the gift of motherhood. Because the relationship with my two additional sons wasn’t in place from their conception, I have to work to form one with them, in ways that no one else can. While the relationship isn’t optional, the closeness seems to be something that’s earned in a way the “natural” mother-child relationship gets to bypass. But it has helped me relearn my accountability to God in raising all three of these young men. It’s a privilege, indeed, and a challenge, in other ways that my heart may never get used to.
I usually don’t get to spend Mother’s Day with all my sons because my two additional sons understandably default to spending the day with their birth mom. And when any of them leave from our home for Christmas vacation or extended summer vacations to be with their other parents, a lump grows in my throat and I feel a pain in my heart that I’m certain can only be understood by an honorary mom. I take them to the store to buy Mother’s Day cards for someone else; secretly hoping they’ll remember me too… but accepting once more that it’s optional. But in those sporadic, occasional moments when they write me a card or let down their tough-boy exteriors to share their hearts with me, it’s perhaps the most rewarding “honorary” degree I can be granted.
Rejoicing in the Choice for Love
I’m grateful that God prepared my heart for what, in its own way, has been an adoption process; but I’m even more grateful to know that my Savior’s heart was prepared in the very same way for my adoption into His family. And when I turn to Him and express just how much I adore Him, I feel all of Heaven rejoice at the choice that has been made simply to love — beyond a requirement or a bloodline — but because of a heart connection that has been sealed for eternity with His blessing.
Joanna Sanders is a graduate of Villanova University and Moody Theological Seminary. She’s also the founder and head writer of Colossians46.com, which provides biblical content support, writing, and editing. Most importantly, she is wife to Geoff and mom to three godly men-in-training. Her blog name “The Landing” comes from the account of the Ark resting on the mountain, creating a settled place — a landing — for man to start over, which echoes her new life in Christ.