You Were Born in My Heart
I knew I was standing on sacred ground that sunny afternoon many years ago when my husband and I sat with other parents who like us had adopted a child from another country. I remember thinking that it looked like a version of the United Nations because each child was specially dressed in his or her native clothes. We had come together to celebrate our children's original culture as well as their now being part of ours.
The previous year my first husband, Jim, and I had met with parents who had adopted two adorable little girls-twins from Korea. We realized that all children were exactly the same no matter their origin. We made the decision that afternoon to adopt a baby from Korea. We were thrilled at the prospects of having a little girl join our family, since our son Mark was already 4 years old. I had no idea then how much I would need to grow to handle the world of differences that come not only with a new child, but one from an entirely different world.
People have often asked me, now that Melanie is a young adult, if people treated her differently as a child. Certainly they did, but for the most part it was because she looked different and they were curious. I remember with amusement a woman who was staring so intently at Melanie and me at a local shopping mall that she ran directly into a large cement pillar. There was another memorable time at our local swimming club when Melanie was about three years old. We mothers were sitting around the toddlers' pool watching our children play. I remember this as if it were yesterday. A little boy of about 5, with dark hair and eyes walked up to Melanie. He stood in front of her with his eyes intently focused on hers and said in a loud voice, "You're ugly. Your eyes are different."
Quite honestly, my first impulse was to throttle the little urchin. But as I comforted my daughter who had dissolved in tears, upset both by his accusatory tone and his words, I realized I needed to come from a different place in my own heart. My challenge was to give her a different message, one that allowed for the reality of people's prejudice and fear as well as the truth that everyone is different. The sooner we come to terms with our particular differences the sooner we can become steadier in our lives. I just hadn't imagined her training and mine would begin so soon.
The following evening as I tucked Melanie into bed, the question that every adoptive parent dreads but knows will come one day was on my daughter's lips. "Mommy, did I come out of your body the same way my brother did? I'd rehearsed my answer for years but now I felt frozen. Melanie not only knew she was adopted, but that usually was the first thing she told people, announcing proudly: "I'm adopted." We often laughed together realizing that she thought babies came from the airport rather than the hospital because that's where they first put her in my arms.
I sat down on her bed feeling the weight of these words and the pain I felt in my heart. No child could possibly be loved any more than this little girl, but how to convey this? I wasn't sure. I finally said, "No, Melanie, you came from inside my heart rather than from under it." I went on to explain that when you really love someone it doesn't matter how they came into your life because they were meant to be with you and you with them. She smiled and closed her eyes.
I sat there a long time filled with the wonder of this beautiful little girl who had come to us from half-way around the world. What a gift! Yet, I realized uneasily that there would be experiences ahead of us that would require me to emerge into a much stronger and wiser state as a mother and a person. Melanie and I would be confused, threatened, irritated and stymied more than once by the ramifications of her being and feeling different.
Over the years all those premonitions came true. Yet, on Mother's Day as Melanie-now a lovely grown woman of 27-talks to me about her life and I look into her beautiful brown eyes, I know that somehow that simple answer so many years ago must have conveyed a much greater truth than I realized.
We all come to the reality that we are different. We're tall or short; we're wide or thin, smart or not so smart. We excel at football or soccer, horseback riding or hiking. We love to sing or write; we enjoy expressing our creativity on the golf course or tennis court. We are each 100% unique. When we look at each other we're struck by how different we are. That difference can either propel us into a truer place of understanding our own differences and ways to honor them, or we can lose ourselves in being afraid of the differences and push away new experiences that would otherwise come to us.
Life is always different. Each day we interact with ideas and beliefs that have shifted. As we emerge into our differences, we can learn to accept that we're not better than or worse than others, we're just different from them. And that is good-just the way it is supposed to be. You are meant to be singular, set off by yourself in your own original pattern.
Instead of trying to suppress our differences we need to celebrate them, because underneath we are all the same. We love and laugh, hurt and cry for the same reasons. We each hold the ability to love in our hearts. Learning to extend that love is the challenge, but when we risk emerging into life filled with loving intent, the Great Mystery shows us the new paths that lead us to lasting fulfillment.
Thought for the Month:
"Whoever our parents were, whether or not they were the best parents in the world, we need our own learning experiences in order to love compassionately. Eventually we realize that only by loving ourselves can we stem the tide of empty feelings, loneliness, and traumatic memories of love gone wrong that haunt us. The journey is in learning to love who we are, our faults, our strengths-the entire picture of our bodies, minds, emotions and spirit."
� Meredith Young-Sowers, D.Div., is a spiritual teacher, intuitive healer, acclaimed author and the founder and director of the Stillpoint School of Advanced Energy Healing. For more information about Meredith, the Stillpoint School, and Meredith's many books and tapes, please visit: www.meredithyoung-sowers.com and www.wisdombowls.com.