To my daughter’s first Mother,
I cannot imagine what you are feeling today. Two months ago you did what I cannot imagine doing. After nine months of carrying a child in your womb; growing as she grew; smiling when you first felt the flutters of a life; and settling into discomfort as the due date drew close, you walked out of the hospital without your daughter. You are a mother, and yet, on this Mother’s Day, I imagine it is more painful than it is joyful.
This is not lost on me and my wife. As we drove to Florida to meet our daughter we found ourselves overwhelmed by joy and grief. Joy because we were headed to the destination of our two year adoption journey. Grief because we knew our joy rested on the impossible decision of a mother who wanted to raise her daughter but knew she could not. How do you rejoice when someone else is mourning?
I’ve learned the obvious truth that the circumstances surrounding a mother’s decision to choose adoption for her children are as varied as the women themselves. Some choose adoption because of finances, others because of emotional instability, and others because of addictions and lifestyles. No matter what circumstances surround the decision, I believe every mother chooses adoption for the same reason: love.
I know that’s why you made the life-giving decision for adoption.
So does Evelyn.
We tell Evelyn often how much you love her. We speak often of how brave you are. And when I’m alone feeding her in the middle of the night, I pray that she is as self-less, as strong, as good a mother as you are. You aren’t a secret in our house and you never will be.
You are our daughter’s Birthmother.
We are her parents, father and mother. Soon she will learn to speak, and two of her first words will be directed towards us. “Mama.” “Dada.” There will be no shortage of joy in our house when she speaks those words. But some day she will learn the word “Birthmother,” and when she does it will be our privilege and honor to tell her everything we can about you.
Mothers always struggle feeling like they’re enough. They wonder if they’ve spent enough time with their kids, discipline their children appropriately, read enough books to get them the best start in life, found the right doctor, and bought the right peanut butter. Truth is, showing up is enough. Getting it right is impossible. Showing up is possible and it is enough. All any mother can ever do is show up in the moment and make the best choice they know how to make at any given moment.
You did show up and made a choice. You chose adoption.
And we are grateful.
I’ve thought long and hard about what I would want to say to you if we ever met. Beyond “thank you,” I don’t know what I’d say. I know what I’d like to offer though. I’d want to offer relief from any guilt you might be feeling.
The language that sometimes surrounds adoption bothers me. People say things like, “Oh, she gave up her child for adoption,” as if walking away from the child you love is some simple act. Let’s also be clear: you did not give up your daughter. No, no you didn’t. You didn’t give up your daughter, nor did you give up on her. You chose adoption. Chose the best option for you and, most importantly, for her. This is what every mother does. Good mothers make thousands of choices a day: what food to feed their children, how much screen time to allow them to have, what educational experiences to give them, the most appropriate way to discipline their children. I know of no other group of people who put as much care into the decisions demanded of their role while simultaneously feeling guilty for the choices they’ve made. The best mothers feel guilt.
So today, if you shed some tears, know you are not forgotten. You are not looked down upon. Instead, we are forever grateful for your courage. Thank you for loving our daughter, yours and ours, enough to place her with us. I’m sure these words won’t ease the pain. I don’t know the words to heal that wound. All I can say is, “Thank you.” You are celebrated on this day by a family you’ve never met.
There won’t ever be a Mother’s Day when you’re not remembered.