Sunday, May 9, 2010


I recently came across a scrapbook page that I did over 5 years ago after watching my sister and sister-in-law with their children at Christmastime that year.  At that time, my views on motherhood looked like this:
"I have to admit that I don't ever remember having the desire to become a mother that most women seem to have. Maybe it's simply that I'm too selfish, but I love the feeling of  being responsible only for myself, and I find the truly selfless attitude of the young mothers around me amazing. Motherhood will sit on an uncomfortable stairway while the rest of the family is celebrating Christmas Eve - just to make sure that the child is falling asleep upstairs. Motherhood will hold and console a cranky child for hours if necessary. Motherhood gets more excited about the child's new teddy bear than about her own Christmas gifts. I don't want it for myself, but I truly enjoy watching this miraculous thing called motherhood."

Okay, so it's no secret that my feelings have changed rather drastically during the last year, but those of you who know me realize that those changes didn't come easily. I gave into God's call to motherhood under duress and only after arguing vehemently with Him first. I remember a phone conversation with a close friend a few weeks after we brought Yikealo home, during which I said, "I still don't understand why so many people WANT this! Life with a child isn't BAD at all, but it's certainly not BETTER than what David and I had before, so why does everybody seem to have this great "need" to become a parent? I'm just not understanding why this is so desirable."  She wisely told me that I "just hadn't gotten to that part yet" but that I undoubtedly would before too long. She was right of course. Today I can honestly say that I adore Yikealo more than words can express, and I love being a mother. He brings so much joy into our lives, and I cannot imagine my existence without him.

Yet I cannot attribute the change in my attitude only to the relationship that I have with my son. There is someone else who deserves recognition on this day dedicated to mothers...her name is Mihiret Embaye, and she is Yikealo's first mother. She has impacted my life in so many ways, even though I've never had the chance to meet her face to face. She has dealt with so much pain and hardship that I can't even begin to imagine. She has lived with disease, with unbelievable poverty, and with overwhelming losses that would cripple almost anyone. She has made impossible choices, and her courage in those decisions staggers me. She has given my son life two times over: through birth and through relinquishment to strangers who could provide physically for him. That wasn't a simple choice for her, and I can't imagine the heartache that it caused. Yikealo is one of the happiest, most loving little boys that I have ever met, and I know that those characteristics aren't completely attributable to the care that he has received from David and me. He understood affection and love in a wonderful way from the day that we first met him, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he learned much of that from the wounded hands of the beautiful woman who first cared for him.

An update from our case-worker at the beginning of last June gives a tiny glimpse into what Mihiret was going through during her last meeting with Yikealo: "I also met a birthmom who had come to say goodbye to her child. I could not believe what she must have been feeling. She was crying at first, but it was good to be there and laugh at the silliness of her little one and encourage her as best I could. I hope I can see her when we travel to the North to meet her other child who is in our sponsorship program."

The knowledge of her has brought so many questions into my life. Why have I been given everything that I could ever want while she struggles every single day just to survive? If our lives had been different, would she and I have been good friends? Yikealo's personality meshes so perfectly with mine that it's easy to imagine that his two mamas might have hit it off too. How can I complain about the little so-called "problems" in my life when she and so many others are being forced to make the ultimate sacrifice that motherhood could make - the giving up of their children so that those children have the chance to survive? When I find myself thinking that I just "need" the next new thing, I have only to look at her pictures and her face reminds me how selfish I am. She has taught me so much about contentment and thankfulness and yes, shame, without ever saying a word to me. I think of her every single day, and I feel so responsible - not only to take care of the precious gift that she gave to me in the form of Yikealo, but also to make the most of the many blessings that God has given me.

So, to any mother who may be reading this, as you celebrate the gift of your children this weekend, remember to say a prayer for the millions of Mihirets around the world. They are truly examples of the miracle of motherhood...modern-day Jochebeds who have sacrificed their own joy in order to provide  their offspring with a hope and a future.


  1. Amen and Amen! Praying for 'the millions of Mihirets around the world'. Love from our family to yours...