When we decided to adopt, I had absolutely no clue what the end result would be. Would our dream of starting a family ever come true? Adopting a baby is one of those things that you openly (and uncomfortably) talk about with loved ones and strangers, quietly plan for all of the possibilities, and secretly tuck away your fears that it may never actually happen. It’s a learning process. You learn about your own insecurities, doubts and biases. You learn to rely on your partner for comfort, reassurance and balance. Finally, you learn to appreciate the journey (at some point).
For Travis and I, it was an emotional roller coaster complete with the upside down loops and relentless spinning — the kind that makes you almost loose your funnel cake. But, in the end, our son found his way into our lives and our hearts. We became his parents. We became an adoptive family, and we got our happy ending.
But, what about our birth mother’s journey? I think about the day we left the hospital every day. While my heart was filled with all-consuming love for my son, it simultaneously broke for her. I always find myself wondering how she is doing. I often catch myself trying (and completely failing) to imagine what it’s like from her perspective — especially now, during the holiday season.
For any birth mother that is living with a missing piece of their heart this holiday season, my hope is that this note can give you a little peace and warmth.
Dear Birth Mother,
No adoptive parent will ever be able to fully comprehend what the adoption process is like for you. We never will. Every situation is unique. Your story is your own. And, only you know what it means to be called birth mother.
I wanted to share a couple of things that I’ve learned through our journey. This is my way of saying, thank you for being a birth mother. It’s my feeble attempt to help the world see how selfless and heroic you really are. Because of you, there are people out there like me that are able to call themselves a parent. It’s a title we never fully believed we would have until you came into our life.
Here’s what I’ve learned or observed through our journey:
- Birth mothers do not give up their babies. You place your baby with the family that you feel will create the best life for that child. It’s the best decision that you can make at that exact moment of time in your life. And, no one has a right to judge that decision. NO ONE.
- Birth mothers will live with their decision for the rest of their life. You receive a great deal of attention, support and doting from attorneys, adoptive parents and counselors surrounding the birth. However, after the baby’s parents take him/her home and their new life as a family begins, you're forced to begin your journey of wondering if you’ve made the right decision. Often there aren’t people hugging and comforting you, letting you know that everything is going to work out.
- Birth mothers will find that their relationships with others will always be impacted by their decision. I’m sure you’re surrounded by a deep fear that people may judge your adoption decision. Let me just say this. No one will ever understand what you went through. Wait, no, are going through. That’s just a fact. You put the baby first.
- Birth mothers give away a big piece of their heart when they place their child with an adoptive family. You have to be strong for those around you, the adoptive parents and for your own well-being. But, who’s strong for you? I’ve heard that your friends and family often try to ignore your loss by pretending nothing happened; that they aren't sympathetic to the loss because they view it as a “choice”. It’s still a piece of your heart, and the pain is very real.
- Birth mothers experience the baby’s life through the eyes and camera of the adoptive family. I can’t imagine the wave of emotions when you receive the first birthday pictures, or the first steps video, or a text on Mother’s Day. You have to rely on the adoptive parents to help you see that beautiful baby grow up.
We are forever connected with our birth parents. We’re equally as grateful for that relationship as we are the birth of our son. Our contact is positive, open and honest — we promised that to each other before he was born. However, it is centered around a highly emotional event. So, it still has some awkward moments. We work at it, and we try to understand each other as best as possible.
So, dear birth mother, in the deepest part of my heart, I hope you know that you’re loved, regardless of the relationship you have with your adoptive family. I hope you realize your own fortitude as you manage your life, especially on the really difficult days. I hope you’re surrounded by people that show you nothing but respect and unconditional love, because you deserve it. I hope that the people of this world, who’ve never faced a decision as difficult as yours, recognize that it was your decision, and you did what you felt was right in your heart.
There is always a place for you in the family that you helped create. It may not be daily interactions or as frequent as you would like. Heck, you may not even want to play an active role. You may want to create a different life for yourself. No matter what path your heart takes, there is always a place for you in that family.
Or, at a very minimum, there is always a place in ours for you. You don’t know us, but we love you.
Travis, Kelly and Parker
To our birth mother, you know how much we love you. Life with our little man is buzzing, hectic and non-stop. No matter how fast he climbs, runs or hides, we always find time during the day to say a prayer of gratitude for you. He’s surrounded by more love than any of us could’ve ever imagined when we started this process. And, that’s the best life we (all of us) can give him.