This year Thanksgiving came pretty close to being perfect. The meal
itself could have been better. The apple crumb pie I made was a
failure, my peach cobbler was a little too soggy in the middle, the
collard greens were missing, but despite all of this, the day was
still just about perfect. My mother and her life partner, Kevin, made
the almost six hour drive down to New York City to join us. For as
long as I can remember, my mom has wanted to see the Thanksgiving Day
Parade. So for years I have invited her, along with the rest of my
family, to Brooklyn for Thanksgiving. Being the only child of my
mother’s who does not reside in Rochester, I was happily surprised
this year when my mom actually said yes. Yes, she would be coming to
Brooklyn for Thanksgiving.
I admit that I had a tinge of feeling bad for the rest of my siblings
who were all forced to come up with new plans because every year my
mom is the host of Thanksgiving dinner at her place. If my brothers
and sisters were not going to be at their in-laws, then surely they’d
be at mom’s. Understandably, none of my other siblings were up for
the schlep to Brooklyn so, in a rare occurrence for a child in a
family with six kids, I had my mom all to myself. My mom amazes me at
the energy she harnesses sometimes. Since I can remember she has
always been busy. Anyone with children knows that it is hard enough
being a parent to one or two children, let alone six. Add to that
working full-time - times two. My Mom is an elementary school
principal and she is a case worker for an adoption agency. She
doesn’t have two careers because she needs to, but because she wants
to. Furthermore, she is a grandmother to twelve (and possibly
counting) grandchildren. And she has been at the birth of every single
grandchild! This includes the fact that she flew in and out of New
York City, along with my sister Christina, on the day I gave birth to
My Mom and I have come a long way. We have not always seen eye to
eye. We still have our disagreements. There have been times when I
thought our differences were too great to have any genuine connection.
These were times when I was struggling with my own identity, my own
happiness. Times when I focused too much on our differences.
Throughout any struggle we may have had though, I can say that I
always knew that I loved my mother. Slowly but surely, we worked our
way back to a genuine mother-daughter bond. For whatever differences
we may have, my mother is, authentically-to-her-core, a mother. This
is not something I think can be said for everyone.
When I was fighting the battle to have my babies, my mother was a
constant source of support. She drove down to be with me when I lost
my first ectopic pregnancy. And she did it again, when I lost my
second one. She would drive down to cook for me and for my husband.
She was there to hold me as I wept, to tell me that she loved me and
let me know that she believed it was all going to be ok; how much she
truly believed someday I would be a parent. My mother selflessly
understood how being an adopted person made my struggle to become a
parent all the more significant. She straightened others out when
they would ask her why I didn’t “just adopt.” She too wanted for me
to have my first real blood connection.
After five years, when I finally did get pregnant with babies that
were not stuck in my fallopian tubes, my mother rejoiced. She held
her breath and was guardedly optimistic for us. Along with my
sisters, she secretly bought baby clothes and other baby items and
held them at her house, never saying a word to me because she knew
that I did not want any baby items until and unless we were pretty
darn sure these babies were going to be born alive.
At week 17 of my pregnancy, we learned the devastating news that our
babies had a 50-50 chance of survival due to my too short of a cervix.
I was immediately sent home and put on complete bed restriction.
With the doctor telling us that the only reason we were being sent
home, as opposed to being admitted to the hospital, was because if the
babies had been born then, there would be nothing that could be done
for them. We had to make it to, at least, 24 weeks to have even a
remote chance that the babies would survive.
For the next almost 20 weeks, my mother, while working full-time, came
to visit me often. When she could not visit, she sent flowers and
cards and small hope-filled gifts. She had practically the entire
town of Fairport in prayer for me and my babies. I had strangers
sending me gifts and cards - all because of my mother. The kindness I
experienced during the wait for my babies was beyond humbling. It
came from places I never expected. Toward the end of May, I allowed
my mom and sister to buy and set-up the babies nursery. Miraculously,
with love, support and will, my babies were born on June 5, 2007,
healthy and full-term (for twins.)
My mother’s support during my struggle to get and stay pregnant, let
alone during my pregnancy, was a beautiful example for me of what it
means to really, truly be a mother. To feel the despair and pain of
your child and to do whatever you can to alleviate it. I could not
have done it without her.
So last week during Thanksgiving, I thoroughly appreciated the time I
had with my mother. Together we cooked for the ten friends of mine
and my husband’s that would join us later for dinner. (Thankfully my
mother is not squeamish about handling raw poultry the way that I am!)
The menu would be slightly different than what my mom was accustomed
to. There would be sweet potatoes, cabbage, corn bread and macaroni
and cheese. Unusual items for Thanksgiving in an
Irish-Italian-American household. The demographic would also be
different than my mom’s usual Thanksgiving dinners. Instead of me
being the only person of color at the table, this time my mom and
Kevin were the only people who were not people of color. And they
rolled with all of it because that’s what moms do. Our friends liked
my mom and my mom liked our friends. (Her famous cheescake was a
Some people would probably categorize me, especially some adoptive
parents, as an “angry adoptee.” (Ugh how I hate that term. See -
she’s angry!) They would assume I don’t think of my mom as my “real”
mom. But here’s the thing. I do. I know she is my “real” mom and
she knows I have two “real” moms. When I was going to Korea in 2004
to finally meet my Korean mom, I asked my mom to go with me. She
wanted to make sure that I really wanted her to go and so she asked
me. I told my mom that whenever I had imagined meeting my Korean mom,
I always imagined her/my mom with me. After hearing this, she
immediately said, “Ok, then I’ll go.” Another example of being an
This Thanksgiving was the first in our new home. It was also the
first time my mother and I had Thanksgiving together in New York City.
An Irish-American woman comes together with a Korean little girl.
Somehow, extraordinarily, they form an authentic mother-daughter bond.
I am grateful for all of it. I am grateful for my mom.