Every day I get to peer into the face of one beautiful boy who holds no gene of mine and be reminded that I get to call him my son because of the sacrifice of the woman who made me his mother. Every May for National Birth Mother’s day I get to honor her bravery and the love, beauty and heartbreak it took for my child’s birth mother to place him in my arms.
Ten years ago we said our goodbyes in a small office at an adoption agency. The three days she spent in a quiet hospital room with him, were hers to keep for herself. Even though it meant missing out on those first moments of his life it was what she needed and we wanted to support her in any way we could. On the scale of an eternity with him, it was an easy space to give to the first person to ever love him. And I would, every time want her to keep those three sacred days of his life to herself, after what she gave me for the rest of mine.
I remember hugging her for what seemed like hours, knowing that it could likely be the last time I ever saw her. She wanted a closed adoption so that she could have the time and space she needed to grieve. We were supportive of her choice and what she needed while holding hope in our hearts that someday she would be ready to see him again and that she could be a part of our lives.
Throughout the next ten years of his life I documented everything. I wrote her letters full of details about what he was doing, eating and saying. The ways he shared her personality and the ways I got to see a piece of her every time I looked at him. Not wanting her to miss a thing, I kept it all tucked away in a box and in my heart in case the day came that she was ready. If she could have opened that box and looked into the life she gave her child, this is what I wanted her to see:
The picture we have of her holding him at the hospital hanging above his bed. It has been there since the day we brought him home. I can’t fathom the amount of tears she left with him in that hospital room and I wish she knew how often that sacrifice is talked about and honored in our home. I would want her to see us on our knees praying for her every night. And to hear his raspy little voice ask God to keep his “tummy mom” safe and happy. I would want her to hear us invoke the blessings of heaven upon her for the sacrifice that she made and the life that she gave him.
I wish I could tell her that he is safe, he is loved, he is thriving and will always know she loved him with all her heart.
I’d want her to know just how much I think about her and what she means to me as a person not just the decision she made.
I wish she could sit in on our family reunions and hear my son’s aunts and uncles and grandparents express their gratitude for her in bringing him to our family.
I want to tell her that she will always and forever be welcomed and loved in our lives. That she is a part of our family just as much as he is.
I wish she could see that the boy we share a love for is fiercely protective of her. When other kids ask why she “gave her baby away,” he defends her with the truth that she loved him enough to let him go, knowing he would be given a life she couldn’t provide at the time.
I wish she knew that she will always have access to her son, in whatever capacity they both need. That we love her more than she could possibly ever know.
These are the things I wanted her to know and see and ten years later I got to tell her all of it.
She reached out to us on Facebook unexpectedly one day. She was ready for a more open adoption. And the minute our son was ready to meet her, we flew her out. She stayed for a week and got to see everything he loves to do in the place he lives. She expressed how that week gave her the peace and assurance she needed. I hope she saw the life she imagined for him when she chose me. And as she opens the box of letters and pictures reserved just for her, and scrolls through the last ten years and many more to come, I pray she continues to see the life and love she hoped and dreamed for her baby boy.
She chose the bravest, strongest love there is and there are just not words big enough to express my deepest, fiercest, gratitude and admiration for her. The privilege it is to have this little soul call me his mom because of her sacrifice is never lost on me. Today and always, I celebrate Birth Mother’s Day and the woman who made me a mother.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mothers out there. But especially those who are hurting today; to you who is missing your child today and to you whose baby made someone else a mother. Mothers of adopted children everywhere are celebrating you today. We hope you know that you are prayed for and thought of and so dearly loved.