‘His tiny body was suspended between her arms and mine. The silence seemed too BIG for the hospital room.’: Adoptive parents create community to bring multicultural education into homes, give flowers to expectant mothers

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“There was a silence which seemed too big for the hospital room. His tiny body was suspended between her arms and mine while we hugged, and I promised to let her know when we got home to send her pictures. To let her know that we would see her at Christmas.

Our casework prepped us for the emotions that would be coming before we walked through that door. I’m glad it did because I wouldn’t have been able to keep it together without warning.

Our lives changed with the click of a hospital door, and I felt the weight of grief and gratitude roll over me as I cried in the hallway in front of a nurse’s station. Gratitude that she had picked us. Grief that so many lives had been affected in a five minute time frame.

Every ounce of me hoped I would be the mother she needed me to be for her baby, and every ounce knew I had so much work to do in order to become that mother. Hello, imposter syndrome.

It’s funny how a million decisions can add up to one moment that completely changes your life. The decision to move to Colorado from North Carolina, my choosing to stay at home, and homeschooling our daughter. It was every factor that went into our decision to adopt that ended with us standing in a hospital room holding the most perfect little boy.

mom, outside with two children
Courtesy of Beth Howard

The last two years have changed and evolved our family in ways we couldn’t have predicted. During the adoption process, areas of our lives moved forward while others stood still. We were waiting for a baby while rescuing a puppy, buying a house, and moving to a new town. We started new jobs and I began writing homeschool curriculum. In the middle of putting pen to paper and developing multicultural units for my daughter, our son was placed into our family.

Little World Wanderers was a dream my daughter and I cooked up together one day when she was five years old. Nora has always had a strong desire to learn about the world around her. She has a level of compassion for others that extends beyond those she knows and wants to connect with. We wrote Little World Wanderers for our own family and friends. A year later, I was finishing the first unit to be published, while my newborn son was snuggled up in a sling. I alternated between typing about Norway, and patting his back to sleep while listening to little baby snores.

little girl with butterfly on nose
Courtesy of Beth Howard

Our son came home through domestic infant adoption after a two and a half year long process. As white adoptive parents, we knew we had to be intentional about bringing his birth cultures into our lives and with helping him maintain connection to his heritage. This lit a fire in me to share what we learned with others in our adoption and homeschool communities. Writing culture units wasn’t just for our home or close friends anymore, there was a deep desire to share how and why it is important to learn the cultures of others.

It is a strong belief of mine that multicultural education creates more compassionate humans. As our children grow and learn about the world, understanding our neighbors is essential to being part of our community. Intentional education in other cultures helps children learn to make connections with others in authentic ways. When our son came home, we knew we had to be intentional about bringing his birth cultures into our lives and help him maintain connection to his heritage.

My husband and I developed a website and social media that allows us to share the units we create with others. Little World Wanderers was designed to give parents an idea of how to begin bringing multicultural education into their homes. Maintaining our son’s birth cultures has now stemmed into writing country units to allow families to also learn about the world in authentic ways with their children.

around the world cutout
Courtesy of Beth Howard

Each country unit comes with a book list, recipes to make with your children, a folktale, songs, and handicrafts related to the place you are exploring. The focus is to spark a love of other places in a way that inspires families to intentionally seek out authentic learning of cultures in their home. Our units are specifically designed to not be a one spot curriculum where you’re given a comprehensive overview of the culture of an entire place. Rather, we’ve designed units to give families the opportunity to learn about a place together, and hopefully inspire a desire to continue learning.

turkish apple tea
Courtesy of Beth Howard

It is a hope of mine to connect with adoptive families and encourage them to maintain connection to their children’s birth cultures in their homes. It is a privilege to be able to love our children, and we should authentically love all of them.

mom and two children in front of mountains
Courtesy of Beth Howard

People aren’t often surprised when they find out we have an open adoption with our son’s biological family. The connection to Ezra’s birth family has been a priority for us as he grows. We want him to have access to all the people who love him, the people who can answer questions about his story and who he is. Having a relationship with his biological family has turned into a beautiful part of our story.

For our family, the choice to have an open adoption was easy. We had promised to stay in touch with his birth mother after placement, a promise we have not only made to her, but our son as well.

I panicked in the car on the way home from the hospital with my newborn son. I worried his hat had slipped from his eyes, his pacifier would fall out, was he breathing ok? The hour car ride home felt like it took forever. My thoughts then settled on his birth mother. She was probably panicking too. She had placed her baby in the arms of strangers and watched him leave. While we celebrated our growing family, we held close to us the grief of them losing each other. Having a small fraction of the feeling she likely felt during the first day allowed me to set aside any hindering feelings of an open adoption. I wanted her to know how he was doing.

Reflecting on the grief of adoption has impacted my heart in ways I didn’t know possible. Last year, I found myself wanting to do more to support women who were pregnant and considering adoption. Last winter, my daughter and I applied to become ambassadors with the Growing Kindness Project, a non profit organization that encourages and helps gardeners grow dahlias and other flowers to give freely to others in their communities.

I wanted to find a way to support and care for expectant mothers who were considering adoption. I reached out to our former agency, Colorado Christian Services located in Centennial, Colorado, to see if they would be interested in receiving flowers to take to expectant mothers during their counseling sessions. Thankfully, they said yes.

pink and white flower
Courtesy of Beth Howard

Choosing adoption for a child can be a heartbreaking and scary decision. There is a lot of unknowns when a woman hands her baby to strangers. I wanted a way to show mothers considering this option they were loved and cared for regardless of if they chose to parent or place their child. Colorado Christian Services works with expectant mothers in an ethical way that supports and allows mothers to truly choose the best path for themselves and their child.

With my two children, we have grown and given bouquets of flowers to be passed along to expectant mothers considering adoption for their children. Some of these mothers have chosen to parent, they’re met with love, support, and encouragement as they step into the role of mothering a new life. Some are still considering their options. They are also met with love and encouragement as they work through difficult decisions.

Experiencing a relationship with Ezra’s birth mom has made me more open to caring for and wanting to encourage other expectant mothers, regardless of if they place. To come with flowers and let them know someone is thinking of them during this time has brought a new meaning to our garden. We hope next year to grow even more flowers for other agencies in our area.

colorful flowers
Courtesy of Beth Howard

Last week, on the day before his second birthday, our mighty guy picked flowers from our garden to give to his birth mom. He hugged her, celebrated his second year of life with her, and basked in the attention of so many important people that love him. I feel grateful that we didn’t let fear steal this from us.

little boy sniffing colorful flowers
Courtesy of Beth Howard

Every adoptive family will tell you that adoption changed their lives. For our family, our son’s adoption has woven itself deep into the fabric of almost everything we do. The work we produce with Little World Wanderers is profound: the flowers we grow to encourage expectant mothers, and writing on the importance of connecting your children to their birth cultures and open adoption. When we started the process almost five years ago, I had no idea how impactful adoption would be in our lives. It is a privilege to be a family and to share our work with others.”

family of four walking through mountains
Courtesy of Beth Howard

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Beth Howard of Colorado. You can follow her journey on Instagram, and on Little World Wanderers. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free newsletter for our best stories, and our Youtube for our best videos. 

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