A Boy with Three Mothers — An Adoption Story


Once upon a time, in a land far from my own, a baby was born to a woman in a mother’s home. Like most babies, he knew this woman’s voice and her scent. He shared her room and her DNA. He was her son, and she was his mother.

Today, I hold tightly to a single page of a short file. On this page is one paragraph with every detail I know about her. I long to know more, and one day, so will my son. She is his first mother. She is the one who carried him and protected him while he was knit together so preciously in her womb. In a different world, in different circumstances, maybe she would be his only mother. Even with my limited information, I think she would have loved him well. I think she has already loved him so very well.

She made one of the hardest decisions a mother can make – to let someone else have the privilege of raising this little boy.

In a nearby city, my son’s second mother opened her home and her heart. She tended to his cries at night, sat through his doctor’s appointments, and cared for his medical needs. Still today, she warms his bottles, changes his diapers, and carries him around on her back. He loves this mother with all of his little baby heart. She is his world, and for these early months of life? He is her world too.

She knows this isn’t forever, but he doesn’t. She knows somewhere across the world is another woman praying every night that the day will come that this little boy will leave his foster home and fly thousands of miles away to his forever home.

The Heart of Adoption

Adoption is bittersweet.  Maybe I had grand ideas about it before we walked this road, but now I know the truth.  Adoption is beautiful and challenging and brave and tragic. But at the heart of adoption is love.

My boy is loved so very much by three women – one who gave her body for nearly a year to bring him into the world, one who will give her home for nearly two years to give him a better chance to thrive, and one who will cross oceans to hold her son and give him her family’s name forever.

To the Women who Loved My Son First

I owe these women a debt of gratitude that I could never possibly adequately pay. My sweet boy’s story is far from simple, but there is so much love in it. There is loss and tragedy and courage and strength.

Sweet birth mother, thank you. Thank you for keeping him safe. Thank you making hard choices in a culture that would rather you make easy ones. And thank you for being honest about your capacity to raise this little boy and giving me the opportunity to love him as best I can.  

Sweet foster mother, thank you. Thank you for being there when I can’t. Thank you for showing him my pictures and helping him understand who I am. And thank you for teaching him how to love — and be loved.

I am the lucky one. I get this little boy with three mothers to love forever. Suddenly, I am part of a bigger and better story than I could ever write for myself.

Next Mother’s Day, I pray my little boy is here in my arms, his third and final mother. And in a new tradition I hope will hold up year after year, we will pray for his first two mothers. We will tell him his beautiful story of love and sacrifice and hope.


  1. My husband is an international adoptee. So glad to see you acknowledging your son’s beginnings and paying tribute to his other mothers. Also, wonderful to see that you will support the inevitable questions one day.

    It’s really hard growing up as an international adoptee, but having a mother with an open mind and heart definitely helps. Listen to adult international adoptee and hear their stories. That will really help your son.


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