The Blessings of Being Chosen

By Sioux Roslawski

The Blessings of Being Chosen

When I was a hellion of a teenager, I’m sure my mom kicked herself for adopting me. Catching me lying about where I was for the weekend – more than once – probably made her look at me and wonder to herself, “Why in the heck did I shop around and pick out this kid?” When I went through my question-everything-and-trust-nobody phase, which resulted in lots of heated debates at the dinner table – arguments that nearly drove my dad to the stroke level – I imagine Mom no longer considered me “a blessing.”

If she did have regrets, however; she never let on. And when they brought me home from the adoption agency, my parents definitely considered themselves blessed to have this baby girl as their own. After years of trying and failing, a newborn girl to gussy up in hand-smocked dresses made their life together perfect.

And I was the perfect baby…until I developed ultra sensitive skin. My body was covered with a prickly rash resulting from the summer heat. Certain laundry detergents made me break out. Then, staph set in.

I got a horrible staph infection. Pus-filled sores on my body had to be lanced by my mom and dad on a daily basis. Their blessing-of-a-baby instantly turned into a screaming, squirming wrestler…and it was their responsibility to inflict pain every day in order for me to become well. Did they know what they were signing onto when they scrawled their names on the adoption papers? Most likely not, but no parents truly do, whether their babies are come out squalling in a delivery room or whether they’re handed over in a court room. Moms and dads hope for the best – they pray for healthy babies, they keep their fingers crossed that no terrible accidents or illnesses happen, but parenting is always a series of risks.

Later, after the staph infection cleared up, I had chicken pox, ear infections, lots of stitches, a broken heart that kept getting broken and a divorce. With every obstacle and every illness, my mom was there for me. Her comforting hands, her consoling embraces and her wise advice helped me along.

And from the time I was old enough to understand, I knew I had been “chosen.” In my daydreams, my parents looked at rows and rows of cradles and out of the hundreds of babies they saw, they chose me. In reality, they got a call telling them, “We’ve got a baby for you,” and most likely they immediately dropped the phone and raced out of the house, burning rubber down the street in their eagerness to pick me up.

No matter how much I worried them – even when I pulled some serious screw-ups – my mom never indicated she regretted adopting me.

In fact, she never indicated that in any way I wasn’t always hers. For her, I guess, the day-to-day mom stuff was the blessing. She never felt me kick from inside her womb. She never felt the first of many contractions. She never experienced giving birth to a baby. Instead, from her perspective, she got so much more…

My mother cheered me on as I clumsily moved across the balance beam during gymnastics lessons. She sewed felt and sequin Christmas ornaments for my brother and me, every year, so that when we were grown and had families of our own, we’d have ornaments made with love to hang on our trees. In the afternoon there’d always be some homemade treats for our after-school snacks. When I fell in love with a snakeskin-like vinyl material, and gaucho pants and bolero jackets were all the rage, Mom glued and hammered the seams together when the sewing machine couldn’t handle it.

I really regretted picking such atrocious-looking fabric, and felt guilty for all the time my mother had spent on it, so I wore it once – and only once – to a family get-together. Mom, she never gave the slightest indication that she was disappointed.

When I proved that I was cussedly stubborn and got myself into jams rather than accept help, when I protested against the school newspaper when I was in seventh grade, my mother never uttered a word wondering where I had inherited those traits. I was her daughter. Nothing else mattered.

And when I was in my forties, I started searching in earnest for my birth mother. Because Mom and Dad were still alive at the time and because our state had laws keeping adoption records closed, I needed papers signed by my parents. It took me a long time to summon the courage to ask. Would they consider this a horrible insult? Would they think they didn’t matter, that I didn’t think of them as my real parents? When I finally gathered the guts to ask, I was relieved with my mom’s answer.

“I know you want to find out who you look like, and you want more information about your family history, so of course, yes. I’ll do anything I can to help. And if you get to meet her, please thank her.”

“Thank her? Thank her for what?” I said.

“Because if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have gotten you.”

Eventually, I did find out where I got my high forehead and my big feet. Unfortunately it was too late to express my gratitude – as well as Mom’s – because my biological mother had died decades earlier. Although I only have photographs of her, I didn’t miss out on meeting my real mom.

My real mom is the one who held a cool washcloth on my forehead every time I barfed. My real mom is the one who got herself into a fetal position, her feet pressing into the dashboard, as she taught me how to drive. My mom is the one who picked me up after my divorce.

When they adopted me, my mom and dad felt I was their blessing – until they day they died. But I know the truth:

I was the one who was blessed when I was chosen by them.

About this writer

  • Sioux Roslawski Sioux Roslawski was the chosen child of Carol Kortjohn. She is the mother of two, and is Riley’s Grammy. Her stories can be found in 13 Chicken Soup for the Soul collections, along with a few other anthologies. More of her meanderings can be found at http://siouxspage.blogspot.com.

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25 Responses to “The Blessings of Being Chosen”

  1. What a swell mom, Sioux! Of course, she raised a pretty swell daughter, too. :-)

    • Sioux says:

      Right back at ya, Cathy. Your mom was a wise, caring mother and from the stories you’ve told about your kids, you are just like your mother when it comes to wisdom and love.

  2. Because I know you to be a loving and thoughtful woman who cares deeply for children and animals, and who encourages her friends with words of wisdom and wit, I have to say that your parents were, indeed, the lucky ones. And because you are so wonderful, it must also be true that those who raised you were special, too. For that reason, I’d say you were all three kissed by angels and luck.

    • Sioux says:

      Lisa–Thanks for those kind words. And that last line… well, that phrase about being “kissed by angels and luck” is a gem.

  3. What a beautiful story, Sioux. I do believe everything happens for a reason. The stars aligned the day your parents got that call. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Tammy says:

    What a moving tribute to your mother! I’d say everyone was blessed.

  5. Brought me to tears… A beautiful tribute to your mom. And yes, blessings all the way around!

  6. Nancy Bennett says:

    Sioux is my biological half sister that I finally found in 2001 at the age of 48. She is a blessing to me and the sister I always ached for growing up. I am also blessed by the new shared memories we have created as sisters.

    Sioux what a wonderful tribute to your mother! I’m sure you WERE a hellion as a child, it sounded as if you were describing me.

  7. This is such a beautiful essay and it made my skin tingle. You are a blessing! Thanks for sharing. Both of your mom’s would be proud.

  8. Michele Bailey says:

    Crying! And if I weren’t already, Lynn’s comment and your reply would have pushed me over the edge. That could have been written by me (if I could write as well as you). Thanks for sharing a wonderful tribute to your mom.

  9. Nancy Bennett says:

    Sioux is my biological half sister that I finally found in 2001. She is a blessing to me and the sister I always ached for growing up. I am also blessed by the new shared memories we have created as sisters.

    Sioux what a wonderful tribute to your mother! I’m sure you WERE a hellion as a child, it sounded as if you were describing me.

  10. Val says:

    Now you’ve got me sniffling. Yes, you were blessed. It seems to me they both did exactly what was right for you.

    • Sioux says:

      Val–I guess it’s payback for the times you had ME sniffling…

      Yeah, I was fortunate to have the family–both biological AND real–that I had.

  11. Nancy Bennett says:

    Sioux is my biological half sister that I finally found in 2001 at the age of 48. She is a blessing to me and the sister I always ached for growing up. I am also blessed by the new shared memories we have created as sisters.

    Sioux what a wonderful tribute to your mother! I’m sure you WERE a hellion as a child, it sounded as if you were describing me.

    • Sioux says:

      Nancy–I don’t think we could avoid being a bit wild as teenagers, considering who our birth mother was.

      I’m looking forward to many more years as sisters…

  12. This story was a heart tug. You WERE blessed. I so enjoyed your honest writing.

  13. Pat Wahler says:

    Very sweet story, Sioux. How lovely to be chosen!

  14. Donna Volkenannt says:

    What a beautiful essay and loving tribute to your mom.

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