In the county we adopted from, children go from the care of the birth mother to interim care parents, who meet the child's needs until the adoptive family has legal custody of the child and can take him or her home. We were fortunate enough to have a lovely couple, Mr. M and Mrs. K, take care of our oldest daughter.
Going to meet Miss E for the first time....well, I can remember it "like it was yesterday." ;) We followed our social worker from our hotel, across interstates and highways, and finally into a grand subdivision. With hearts pounding, we followed her into a driveway. We stepped our of cars to the sound of a water feature, a waterfall spilling into a fish pond. Next to the small pond was a garden stone that said Heaven's Baby Lodge.
We stood on the front porch of a large ranch-style home and waited. Moments later, a figure approached the door. As the door opened, I held my breath. The woman was holding a swaddled, crying infant.
We stepped inside. Mrs. K said to me, "She's hungry and poopy, Mommy." These words changed my life and rocked my world. The word I'd been waiting to take upon as my own, to claim as my title, was being directed at me, clearly, without hesitation.
Who is mommy?
That's me! I'm Mommy!
And this precious, tiny girl, the girl with the shiny black hair and the sugary-brown skin, this is my baby.
I am Mommy.
We have stayed at Mrs. K and Mr. M's house a dozen times since then. They opened their home to us when we had visits with Miss E's birth family, when we met with waiting families at our adoption agency to talk to them about transracial and open adoption, and when we went back for a second time to adopt another baby, Baby E. We swam in their pool, we helped them decorate for Christmas, we spent many nights catching up, and many days sharing meals. They have given us advice, made us laugh, and helped us see hospitality in a new way.
Mrs. K and Mr. M have cared for nearly two hundred (yep, that's 200!) children since they became foster parents. They have nurtured newborns and toddlers, minority kids, kids with special needs ranging from mild to extensive, twins. They took children into their home that scared other people, but as nurses and Christians, Mrs. K and Mr. M were armed with the perfect balance of medical knowledge and faith.
Mrs. K was my oldest daughter's second mama. It's hard to believe that my daughter has already had THREE mothers in her lifetime, and she's only 3.5 years old. We tell Miss E her adoption story. We talk about how she went from her birth mother at the hospital, to Mama K (pseudonym) as we call her, to me. I once asked Miss E, "Who is your birth mother?" and she claimed it was Mama K (her second mama). :)
Once when staying with Mrs. K and Mr. M, we asked about their home. Mrs. K shared that when she and Mr. M moved back to the area, they built the house and essentially asked God to use them and their beautiful home to bless other people---be it the children they fostered, their own children and grandchildren, their friends, and traveling adoptive parents.
Where would we be without them? What if they hadn't have been hospitable?
Fast forward to now. My husband and I, at the end of April, purchased our second home. This home is much larger than our previous home. It's spacious, it's warm, it's welcoming. The home has every single thing we wanted on our wish list. (We were so excited that we applied to be on HGTV's House Hunters, but then decided not to continue with agreeing to be filmed because of the time commitment).
Since we've moved in, we've had a few parties, numerous play dates, and we've had a few overnight guests, with more to come this summer. Our home has been a gathering place. A place to eat a meal, to play, to share conversation.
It's everything I hoped it would be.
Granted, this isn't totally easy for me. Though I love to entertain guests, I'm a total control freak. I get unnerved pretty easily. I'm impatient. And worst of all, I love having time to myself. I don't like a guest to linger too long. I need peace, quiet. I need to refocus on my sanity, adjust, breathe, think, create.
But I'm learning to let go, to relax a bit, and to worry about the messes later. I'm learning to care for others, to help them feel at ease and relaxed, and to relish in the moments I am privileged to be a part of.
Despite my idiosyncrasies, which are numerous, God is doing in our home what Mrs. K and Mr. Mike's home has done for so many. It's exciting. It's energizing. It's rewarding.
A few weeks ago, I bought a new WELCOME mat for the front door. I placed it outside the door, on the front porch, with pride and excitement.
A new season in our lives has begun. I don't know what will come, or should I say, who will come through our front door.
But I'm very excited to see where this journey takes us next.
Take some time to reflect on those who have opened their home to you. What did that mean to you? What part did that play in your life? How can you use your home to bless others?
Let your welcome mat be a true reflection of hospitality.