By Erin Alvarez
For years, Tina Dine was a mother without a child. Until one day, inside a small hospital in southern Ontario, Dine held her 11lbs, 5oz daughter Ava for the very first time. In every way, Dine was Ava’s mother, though she hadn’t given birth to her.
Dine is the author of The Little Red Stocking, a story about hope amid the adoption process. She says it is the first book of its kind to honour and include birth mothers.
“She didn’t abandon Ava,” Dine says of her daughter’s birth mother. “She spent months thinking about who would be the right family for her baby.”
Dine and her husband, Michael, had spent nearly three years waiting for a decision like this.
“We should be celebrating this woman. She’s like an angel,” Dine says. “She’s the only one who could have made me a mom.”
Dine says that the opportunity to adopt a newborn is especially rare.
“It was kind of like winning the lottery with Ava,” she says. “And when it came time to go to the hospital, that’s when I was most scared. The majority of birth mothers change their minds [once the baby is born].”
But Ava’s birth mother didn’t change her mind, and Dine thanks the little red stocking for helping her to keep her hope alive.
“I bought it at a market after Christmas one year, and started writing messages of hope to put inside it. The idea evolved into a book that has given me the opportunity to share what this woman did for us, and for my daughter to know how very much she is loved.”
For Andrew and Janna, a couple from Milton, Ont., the process was very different. But they, too, believe in paying homage to the woman responsible for making them parents.
“We adopted our son from Ethiopia [five months ago, when he was 17 months old], and we weren’t given any information about his birth mother or family,” says Janna. “I feel awful that she had to make this horrible decision. And I am very grateful to her.”
Andrew, himself adopted as a baby, says he never searched for his birth parents because “it just wasn’t done back then.” But he and Janna are planning to hire someone to help them find information about their son Yonata’s birth mother in case he decides to look for her one day.
“We make it a point of praying with our son every night that his birth mother is safe and happy,” Andrew says. “She is an important part of who he is.”
While Dine and her husband wrote messages to their future child and put them in the little red stocking, Janna and Andrew remained hopeful by buying baby clothing and supplies to keep the idea of a child real. “I always knew it would eventually happen,” Andrew says.
“It’s really nice being called ‘Dad’ now.”
Thanks to an open adoption, Dine says she is grateful to know who Ava’s birth family is, and maintains a relationship with the birth mother’s parents through correspondence.
Dine aims to to get her book in the hands of every school librarian in Canada, in order to spread awareness of what adoption is all about, and to continue speaking at schools—she has spoken at more than 500 already.
“Sometimes it’s frustrating because I’m still living in a society where some people just don’t understand,” she says. “They ask me about Ava’s ‘real mother,’ and that’s very hurtful. She was born from my heart, not my belly.”
Dine hopes her book will remind people who have chosen to adopt that while the adoption process can be difficult—it can take anywhere from nine months to nine years—it is an adventure that will be worth every second.
“This book is a true story. And I want [those who read it] to understand that in the face of adversity, you can sustain hope.”
Even with something as small as a little red stocking.
For more information for “parents-in-waiting,” or to order Tina Dine’s book, visit littleredstocking.com