A letter to my daughter’s mother on Birth Mother’s Day

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A child born to another woman calls me mom. The depth of the tragedy and the magnitude of the privilege are not lost on me. — Jody Landers

Tomorrow, the United States will celebrate Mother’s Day. Jumah has written me a card, helped pick out a bouquet of flowers. My heart is full knowing both of my children will celebrate with me, all of us under the same roof after a heart wrenching period of separation at the beginning of our family’s adoption journey.

Today, though, is Birth Mother’s Day. And on this day, I cannot help but think of you. There are many things I wish I could say to you. “Thank you,” is one of them. “I’m sorry,” is another.

I want you to know your daughter is okay. She is beautiful, and she is brave, and kind, and she is strong. I’m sure she gets all of that from you. She asks about you sometimes, and I wish I had more information to give her. Where are you living? How old are you now? Do you have other children? Are you healthy?

Of course, I have no right to ask such questions of you. We don’t know each other. I’m not sure we ever will. But if we did, I would tell you that I cannot begin to understand the choice you were forced to make, and I am so very sorry that we live in a world that required you to make it. I am sorry you did not have the resources and the means you needed as a young mother. I am sorry for what you have lost — not just a child, but the dream of a life with her. It isn’t fair. None of this is.

I would tell you that I love her. I’ve loved her since I met her twelve years ago. I would tell you how I have learned that love is more than a feeling; it’s a choice we make, day after day, in the easy times and the hard. I would tell you I worry about her sometimes, and then I remember how far she has already come. I would tell you that she loves fashion, and she is an artist, and just like any teenage girl, she is struggling to figure out her place in this world. I would tell you how hard she has worked to learn English, to make friends, to adjust to her new life in a new country and a new family. I would tell she how incredible she is with her little brother, and how he looks up to her more than anyone in this world. I would tell you how she is still learning to trust me as a mother, and how sometimes the rejection is painful, but I know that she is working her way through a whole bunch of really complicated, really difficult feelings. I would tell you that her favorite food is pizza and chicken wings, but she still loves her rice, and how her favorite colors are pink and yellow, though you’d never know it from the black fingernail polish she always wears. I would tell you that being a parent is bearing a child, and it is also bearing witness to that child’s life, and you and I, we’ve done that, together.

So, thank you. Thank you for giving her life. Thank you for bringing her into this world. Thank you. It will never be enough, and yet it’s all I seem to be able to say.

I honor you today. The girl singing upstairs in her bedroom while she works on a project for school would not be possible without you.

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