It was the best of times, it was the absolute best of times…. Actually, it all began about 18 years ago when we brought our beloved first-born son, John Henry Thanh, home from Hanoi, VietNam at the tender age of 5 months.
When I arrived back at our condo in midtown Atlanta, we were greeted by my mom and her best friend, Barbara. Later that evening, my mom presented me with a gift. Under the beautiful wrapping was a platinum “quilted” paper box that looked rather vintage.
As it turns out, in deed it was all of three decades old. My mom and Barbara looked breathless with anticipation as I carefully removed the lid from the elegant little box to reveal a tiny silver baby cup. And engraved on that cup were these simple words: “Unto Us a Child is Given” along with two dates; August 9th, 1966 and June 13th, 2001, my birthday and that of my beautiful baby boy, John Henry!
Imagine my shock as my mom gathered herself and prepared to tell me the story of the little cup. A cup that would end up “circling” the globe and connecting three generations who without it might have never had the chance to reunite. This, this is a story of providence, an eternal love of a birth mother for her child and the amazing grace that somehow brought all of them together…
I’ve known I was adopted as an infant for as long as I can remember. My parents never shielded my sister and me from that truth. However, things were very different then and when the agency that handled my adoption gave my parents the cup that was to be gifted them by my birth mother, they advised her not to display it. They suggested they just pack it away, as cutting ties to the past was the order of the day. They did say though that, in time, they’d figure out the right time and place to reveal the existence of the cup to their daughter. What a prophetic statement that turned out to be…
As soon as we called my mom in Virginia with the news that we would be heading to VietNam in a less than two weeks to meet our infant son for the first time, her thoughts went immediately to that cup, a cup she hadn’t thought a lot about in over three decades! She dug through a storage closet until she found that beautiful vintage box that contained the silver cup, which she promptly took to a local engraver to have her grandson’s birthdate added right below that of her daughter.
Now, fast forward, over a decade later. We had relocated to Beaufort, South Carolina with our now, family of five. We came back home to Atlanta for a quick visit and ended up virtually quarantined with a sick child. Inevitably in a moment of boredom, I took to the internet for some quiet entertainment.
I somehow found myself doing a search on a site called Adoption.com. And out of curiosity, I typed in the state of my birth and my birthdate. I wasn’t too surprised when the display showed “one record found.” Really, what were the odds that out of the millions of folks searching on this site, that one record would be me?!!
I pulled up the record and saw a birth mother name and information, none of which rang a bell with me except for the delivering obstetrician. But again, what are the odds? Then I saw the name of the hospital and my heart sunk. It was not the one listed on the birth certificate I had.
But before I departed the sight, I noticed at the bottom of the page was a section entitled “Special Note,” which said the following: “I gave the birth family and engraved silver baby cup.”
And suddenly, in the blink of an eye, the thread that had dangled tenuously between three generations for over thirty long years, was being held firmly together by the fingers of the Almighty! A birth mom who had prayed and dreamed of this blessed reunion was about to have her prayers answered.
After writing a letter and mailing it to the address listed on the adoption website, I heard back from my birth sister and then my birth mother. She told me that ever since she’d received the letter from me that she’d tucked it safely away under her pillow to remind her of the power of prayer.
She had waited for what seemed like more than a lifetime for this moment and a short time later, she was on her way to meet her birth daughter just a few states south of where she’d lived her whole life.
The story has many twists and turns and perhaps those are for another day. But, one particular incident that stands out in my mind pertains to the moment when my mom who raised me met my birth mother for the first time.
My husband probably summed it up best when he said, “I’ve witnesses many truly incredible things in my life but I think the most amazing example of grace I’ve ever seen happened when your mom met your birth mom that first time. There was no jealousy, insecurity or animosity, just the pure love that could only be shared by the woman who brought her child into the world and the woman who raised, nurtured and loved that child as her own.”
This has been dedicated to my birth mother Nancy Feldman and my mother Nancy Smith, who passed away August of 2018.