Adoptive Motherhood and the Non-Traditional Family

Widowed Single Motherhood and the Concept of Building a Home and Being a Home.
Adoptive Motherhood and the Non-Traditional Family

The desire, goal, and flat out calling to motherhood for me has been about this; balancing “being home” and “providing a home” for my sons.  Motherhood also demands I continually pay attention to my need to take care of myself and provide inside of me, a place of home and peace.  Both that little girl who dreamed of being a mom and the woman she is constantly becoming truly deserve it.

 I gave up the dream and desire to be a mother long before I actually became a mother.   Growing up with my brothers, I rode life as it was and I don’t think it ever occurred to me that I would not graduate, get married, have kids….the narrow vision of youth, the bliss of ignorance.

My last year of college included such events as breaking up a 5+ year relationship with a wonderful man because I was getting sober, coming out to myself, and a small circle of my world.  I was also falling in love with my wife.  It was the early ‘80’s. Motherhood was out of the question, personally and socially.  We settled into being a family of two.

The lesson that God laughs at our plans had not been taken, let alone learned, until much later.   When my mother died in 2000 the idea of living without her was crushing, and the desire to be a mother was once again stirring.  When my father died thirteen months after her, the desire became a real conversation and two of my children had already been born on another continent.

By the time 2002 rolled in our third son was born and we were in the thick of the adoption process. The two of us were moving through with anticipation, expectation, and sheer hope under the ever protecting layer of faith that motherhood was in reach, and love would always be enough.

 In December of 2003 after a 20-month process, our sons came home to where we were, and we settled into being a family of five.  I was at long last a mother, not a garden variety little girl dream of a mother, but an adoptive mother.  There is a second layer and a different set of nuances emotionally, physically, and spiritually to that extra word in the title.   The sacrifice and sadness of how God brought us together are not lost on me.  I carry it as a constant reminder and the fortified underpinning of my gratitude and joy.   Three separate women living a reality most never dream and some fear must have prayed for a way to give their children a life beyond, while I prayed for a way to become a home, not just provide one.

Motherhood is a noun and a verb, a title, and a series of little acts and choices each day that bring the creative, swirling, calm, and joy of “home” alive each day.

Motherhood is a noun and a verb, a title, and a series of little acts and choices each day that bring the creative, swirling, calm, and joy of “home” alive each day. In the series of days, on my journey to now, I have learned a couple of things. I am consistently working on making the inside home of me a peace filled, joy filled and solid place. I share just a few of the tools that I use:

I just take some minutes. Whatever minutes you can create for quiet listening, take them. Many years ago I started the practice of setting my morning alarm at least 15 minutes earlier than needed to get to work in my classroom. That time has grown over the years to 45 minutes. I sip hot coffee, I check the weather, I say a prayer, I breathe, I write in my journal at least two sentences. Just some minutes of stop, that keep me going.

I just speak some words. As a woman, a mom, a teacher, a grown-up juggling an endless array of details, I need to watch my words. Often, yes, the words that want to come out in public situations, but even more so I have learned to watch the words I speak to the mirror. In providing home to my children and myself it is these words that will resonate to all in whisper and screaming ways. Speak kindly to the mirror each day. Say something to the woman within who is caring for so many in the world beyond the mirror.

I ask just a question. How important is it? That is the question that over the course of my journey has saved me innumerable time, stress, and heartache. Before I give energy to a matter, before I involve myself and my home in almost anything, I ask “How important is it”? Being able to determine the priority of an event or a task, conversation or purchase before it happens inevitably makes it more simple, manageable or non-existent. Everything cannot be a priority, some things don’t even have to make the list.

Before I give energy to a matter, before I involve myself and my home in almost anything, I ask “How important is it”?

We learn, we learn, and on we go.  When we became a family in 2003 my sons were 6, 4, and 1, and my wife was with me.  Today they are 23, 21, and 18, and she left this world a year ago.  I never dreamed I would be a widowed single mom of three. I continue my life’s journey, which at 42 brought me sons, and now at 61 brings me so many possibilities, with hope.  God constantly laughs at my plans, and then leads my grateful heart to find the peace and wisdom I need each day to be me, to be mom, to be “home.”


Noreen Gelling

Noreen Gelling

Noreen Gelling is a creative, a mom, a teacher and a constant learner. She grew up in Brooklyn, NY and has been a resident of New Jersey for 40 years. Her career as a teacher spans over thirty years from elementary to administration and beyond. She currently teaches high school in Newark, NJ while pursuing free time for creative endeavors in authorship and visual art.

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