The heart of a mother: bearing witness to a child’s life

Mother and childThinking about Mother’s Day had me looking at quotes about motherhood.  I came across a huge number of beautifully illustrated thoughts from various people.  But then, then there was this…

“Was it the act of giving birth that made you a mother? Did you lose that label when you relinquished your child? If people were measured by their deeds, on the one hand, I had a woman who had chosen to give me up; on the other, I had a woman who’d sat up with me at night when I was sick as a child, who’d cried with me over boyfriends, who’d clapped fiercely at my law school graduation. Which acts made you more of a mother?

Both, I realized. Being a parent wasn’t just about bearing a child. It was about bearing witness to its life.” 
― Jodi PicoultHandle with Care

This beautiful quote made me think about motherhood and adoption and bearing witness to a child’s life.

Adoption is one of the most beautiful, heroic, selfless acts a mother can make for her child when circumstances mean that she is unable to provide all that her baby needs at that time.

The agonies that she must face, and the fear of what must come when she hands the child she has nurtured in her womb to the waiting arms of adoptive parents must defy words.

But at the same time, the peace she must feel, knowing that she has, and still does, love this child beyond measure must give her hope.

Placing her child for adoption, does not make her any less a mother.  Indeed, she has displayed a great act of selflessness, loving her child more than herself.  Loving, nurturing and protecting her child from it’s very first existence.  And this is what a mother does.

She chooses life for her child, despite enormous obstacles, pressures and fears.  She chooses life for her child over and above her own wants and desires.

A birth mother bears witness to her child’s life when at its most vulnerable, most defenseless.

And the adoptive parents, lovingly chosen by the birth mother (and possibly birth father), gladly receive this new responsibility of parenthood.  All their hopes and dreams of loving beyond themselves becomes a reality and they love this child unconditionally.  They understand the gift of life and they bear witness to it.

Today I want to acknowledge all mothers, including birth mothers and adoptive mothers.  You are amazing, selfless women who know life’s greatest joys and sorrows.  But above all you know how to love.  You are nurturers, you are protectors and you bear witness to the preciousness of all human life.

Thank you.




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