The Love of a Mother

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Nicole Blanket 4I have read the story of how Moses’ mother hid him in a basket and placed it in the river among the reeds on numerous occasions. For those who wear the lenses of liberation, this is the beginning of the story of the human partner in Israel’s liberation from Egypt. For those who wear the lenses of adoption, it’s the story of how Pharaoh’s daughter welcomes a Hebrew baby boy into her family.

I have recently acquired a new set of lenses. . . a mother’s eyes. When I read this story again, I saw a mother’s heart for the first time. Two months after being approved as prospective adoptive parents, our nine years of waiting finally came to an end last month when our little girl came home. Just in time for Mother’s Day.

At three months old, she is already a busy baby. She greets her dad and I every morning with the most adorable grin. She excitedly pumps those little legs when she lies on her back, and at least once a day she gurgles and squeals happily as she converses with us in her own baby language. My daughter’s busyness helped me to understand why Moses’ mother could no longer keep him hidden in her home.

Moses was born into a situation of death. When the Hebrew midwives foiled his plans to have Hebrew boys murdered at birth, Pharaoh ordered that newly born Hebrew boys be cast into the river instead. One mother refused to allow death to be the story of her child’s life.

Her deep love for him compelled her to find a way to keep him alive, and so she chose to hide him in a basket woven from papyrus, one that eventually carried him into the arms of a woman who enabled him to grow and flourish. The basket became her love letter to her baby. Each strand of papyrus told him how deeply she loved him. Faced with an impossible situation, she did an incredibly brave thing: she released him into the arms of another mother, choosing life for him at great personal cost.

I was reminded of her story on the day my husband and I went to bring our daughter home. The birth mother had expressed a desire to meet us, particularly because she and her mother had chosen us to parent her daughter, but when the day grew closer, her emotions overwhelmed her and she chose not to come. She sent her mother to meet us with a message. Like Moses’ mother, her message was a woven one too.

That day our baby girl’s birth grandmother sat across from us, telling my husband and I about her daughter. She shared the story of how our baby was conceived and the process the family underwent in choosing to make an adoption plan for the baby.

I’ve heard some people say that the biological mother “gave her baby away,” implying that she did not want, and therefore callously rejected, her baby. But that’s far from the truth. What I appreciate about our adoption agency is that when they journey with the birth mother through her process, they speak about her making an adoption plan for her baby. They enable the birth mother to understand that she is not throwing her baby away; instead, she is choosing to make an adoption plan for her baby. She becomes an active participant in choosing the family who would raise her child.

Our daughter’s birth grandmother could not contain her tears as she shared about the disappointment, fear and anxiety that engulfed them when the pregnancy was confirmed. Then she smiled as she shared about being given a lifeline when they realized that adoption was an option. She excitedly told us how she knew immediately, upon seeing photographs of my husband and I, that she wanted us to be the baby’s family.

When she delivered our little girl into our arms, she handed over a gift bag that contained a blanket, scarf and cap that her daughter had crocheted for her little girl. It was another love letter, slowly woven in the final weeks of pregnancy. Each strand communicating to her daughter how much she loves her, telling of the courage it took for her to choose life for her daughter.

Like Moses’s mother, our daughter’s birth mother’s greatest sacrifice—letting go of parenting her baby—became her greatest gift.

Moses became the liberator of the Hebrew people from Egyptian oppression.

Her little girl became our long awaited, wished-for child.

A Woven Love Letter

Two mothers
Separated by time and distance and context,
Yet connected
By choosing a similar medium
To communicate
A message to their child.
A Woven Love Letter,
One with papyrus,
The other with wool,
Each strand saying,
My greatest sacrifice
Is also
My greatest gift.
You are loved, my baby,
You are loved.

– Nicole Joshua

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Nicole Joshua
Nicole Joshua is a teacher, academic, reflective practitioner and encourager. She loves passionately and deeply and feeding people’s tummies and hearts makes her whole being smile. She is also a reluctant writer and sometimes blogs at Finding And Owning My Voice. Nicole and her husband cannot contain their excitement at having just embarked on their journey to adopt their first baby. And when you're in the same building as her, and you need to find her, all you need to do is follow the sound of her laughter.
Nicole Joshua
Nicole Joshua

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  • Carmen

    What a beautiful love story Nicole.Powerful.

    • Nicole A. Joshua

      Thank you Carmen.

  • First of all, you have a new baby and you said, YES to writing a post for us! You are a woman of such capacity, my friend.

    I am ecstatic. I can’t wait to meet her … She already feels woven into my heart.

    Thank you so much for telling this story of her blanket. And the relinquishment (as Kell would say) in this story. Lest we forget.

    Happy Mother’s Day!!!!!!!!!!

    • Nicole A. Joshua

      Given how overwhelmed I have been feeling, Idelette, your saying I’m a woman of capacity is a HUGE compliment (*grin*) – thank you.
      I am honored that you asked me to write this post, and am so glad I get to share the beautiful gift of our daughter with the sisterhood. Again… Thank you.
      I’m thrilled that she arrived in time for Mother’s Day, and so I wholeheartedly receive your Mother’s Day wish.
      Love you, my African sister.

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  • HBurns

    Happy Mother’s Day Nicole! What joy! Your post today is an absolute gift and my eyes are still wet with tears at your stunning words…
    ‘A Woven Love Letter,One with papyrus,
    The other with wool,
    Each strand saying,
    My greatest sacrifice
    Is also
    My greatest gift.’
    Just wow and thank you. xo

  • cjdeboer

    So beautiful my friend. Happy Mother’s Day. xo

  • Anne-Marie

    Nicole, this is stunningly beautiful. Love the way you went to the human crux of the situations, a mother’s heart and that she takes such courage to surrender her child for his own sake. WOW! for me this line really sang true: “One mother refused to allow death to be the story of her child’s life.” Sometimes, it’s hard to hold on to hope. So grateful yours was abundantly rewarded, and grateful we can know a bit about this birth mom and lift her up too. XO to you.

    • Nicole A. Joshua

      Thank you so much Anne-Marie. It was very important to me that baby girl’s birth mother be honoured.
      I pray that you see the fruition of your hope for your family.

  • Erin Wilson

    Happy Mother’s Day, indeed.

  • fiona lynne

    Nicole, this has me in tears. I feel so deeply both the pain and the joy in this story as you share it. Prayers God a bright future for your daughter and her birth family. xxx

    • Nicole A. Joshua

      Thank you Fiona. That’s the paradox of adoption: it holds joy and pain. That’s why I wanted to hold up the bury mother’s story as well in the time of my joy.

  • Siki Dlanga

    What a blessed child. Chosen and you too are the chosen parents.

  • And to know that all this while that the adoption plan was underway, the divine plan from long before time was coming into fruition…Your daughter, carried in the womb of her biological mom at this time, knitted for and loved into birth, brought to YOU Nicole Joshua to mother at this time…all by divine plan…for such a time as this…happy mothers’ day sister!

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  • Charnelle

    Wow Nicole…Please don’t ever stop writing

    • Nicole A. Joshua

      Thank you Charnelle. My aim is to continue writing, and growing my writing skills.

  • Completely captivated by the idea of viewing this Biblical encounter through multiple lenses.
    Blessings to you as you begin to view all of life through mother eyes and a mother heart. Nothing will ever be the same again.

    • Nicole A. Joshua

      Michele, I’m beginning to glimpse just how completely my life has changed, and I hope to enjoy every minute of it.
      And reading the text through different lenses is how we engage with the complexity and depth of the text of Scripture.

  • Saskia Wishart

    The crocheted gifts. Wow. So beautiful. Your little girl is loved,

  • Bev Murrill

    Tears in my eyes as I read of the blanket that loving mother crocheted for her girl to snuggle in and for you to tuck around her. God be with you all, the giver and the receivers, as you journey on. It’s a great love that can give in this way, and a great love to receive and love conquers everything else.

    Bless! Bless! Bless you all…

  • Raine

    This is such a lovely story. Congratulations.

  • hayleycrocker

    So touching. I have never thought of the story of Moses in quite this way. I shared it with my readers. Thank you.

    • Nicole A. Joshua

      Thank you, Hayley, for sharing this story. It never fails to amaze me when known biblical texts yield fresh insights.

  • pastordt

    Oh, this is so beautiful. Thank you, thank you. You have captured the heart of adoption, the beauty of it, the gift. Just lovely.

  • Gorgeous. Just full of so much grief and tears and beauty. You’ve got me crying as you honor the birth mama of your little one.