Adopted into motherhood: a Mother’s Day reflection

A Christian woman with an adopted son who’s also been mother to two foster babies, Leila Gunning shares her painful yet joyful journey to motherhood.

Pete and Leila

Leila and Pete

My husband and I met on a mission trip in Nairobi, Kenya in 2005. Pete is originally from Sydney, Australia while I’m from Virginia. After we were married in Virginia in late 2007, we moved to Australia. The next year, we began to think and pray about growing our family. Finding ourselves unable to conceive, we thought we should move forward with adoption, but adoption is extremely difficult in Australia.

In December of 2011 we moved from Sydney back to my hometown of Virginia to begin the adoption process, hoping that it would be a little easier in the US. From there, we signed up to do a nine week training course to become foster/adoptive parents.

Their first foster baby

Their first foster baby

After six months we’d finished the course and completed our home study. Two days later, we received our first placement, a precious baby girl! She was with us for her first seven weeks of life and we are very close with her and her biological family. I truly feel I came into motherhood with our first foster baby—she will always be my first baby and I will always feel a special and unique bond to her.

In October we had our second foster baby come to us, a precious little boy. Just before he arrived we’d met a young woman who was expecting and considering adoption. Over the next few weeks we met with her and she decided she would like to place her baby with us for adoption.

Leila and Pete with 'M' their foster child (L) and adopted so Abram (R)

Leila and Pete with ‘M’ their foster child (L) and adopted so Abram (R).

Three weeks after our second foster baby came to live with us, our son Abram was born. He was born 15 days early and right on time, if you ask me. We have committed to an open adoption and Abram will know his birth mother and other family members. His arrival was one of the most surreal and beautiful experiences of our lives.

Fostering is hard work but so worth it and there is a huge need for good foster families. We feel privileged to be used this way, responding to God’s mandate to care for the widows and the orphans.

I remember Mother’s Day at church a few years ago I literally could not make it through the service I was just weeping feeling so sad and angry waiting for my children.

Fast forward to today I would not trade those tears for the precious children God has brought us through fostering and adoption, nor would I trade all he has taught us.

I do not take Mother’s Day lightly. I think last year I cried for all those that had either never know their mum, lost their mum or were longing to be mums and were sitting in the shoes of infertility.

In it all I have seen that God has a much bigger picture than ours and he does have a plan and it is for his glory! As I try to fill the big, big, big shoes of being a mum I am continually overwhelmed with the blessing my children are and hoping and praying I can be the mum God wants me to be.

As we continue to long for more children that will be with us permanently, we have had our eyes opened to the needs that exist right in our own city. We hope that our family might grow in a multitude of ways over the coming years and are trying to make ourselves available to the many options out there. Our journey into parenthood has not been an easy one, but we are grateful for all that the Lord has taught us and feel so thankful for the children he has blessed us with through foster care and adoption.