Adoption Diaries: Dear Birthmother, Thank you.

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The gift of a lifetime

Our son was born in late October - the eve of the season of giving. We were adoptive parents who had learned he was on the way just days earlier; his birth was both long awaited and a bit unexpected. He arrived healthy and strong, and we anxiously hustled through the paperwork, the legalities and formalities.

He was just 32 hours old when we bundled him home. In an instant, we wrapped our hearts around him and wove him into the fabric of our family.

Friends and family flocked to our home. he was cuddled and kissed and patted and primped. Visitors spoke only the unabashed truth.

"He's beautiful," they ooohed.

"Such a pleasant and happy baby," they aahed.

"And all this wonderful hair," they would say, smoothing the thick crop that framed his angel face. We could only nod in agreement.

Over the weeks, then months, we reveled and soared. But standing, always, at the fringes of our joy has been Elizabeth, the birth mother we left at the hospital that autumn day. Though very young, Elizabeth had accepted her inability to parent her child with a quiet detachment born, I am certain, of a complicated braid of fear, logic and love.

In many ways, her calm acceptance of her decision made our roles easier, but as we prepared to take the baby home, we still faced territory uncharted by most parents. Dare we show our excitement in front of her? We didn't want the strength of our happiness to only reinforce her loss. And what could we possibly say to her? Thank you for giving us your baby? Nothing sounded quite right.

We managed to navigate our way through it. Elizabeth has since seen pictures of our son, and even seen him in person a handful of times. Meanwhile, I have embraced the challenges and rewards of parenthood, as most do. But even in the whir and buzz of it all, I know my experience as a mother - indeed, the very fact I am a mother - is different because of her. At the crossroads of her young life, she chose to give us her baby. The magnitude of that gift shapes my perspective on parenthood.

The reality is this: the deep and sparkling blue of my son's eyes was not inherited from my grandfather. The blond hair so similar to mine as a baby is pure coincidence, not a genetic link. The simple knowledge of this does not bother me. This child is mine in every way that matters. But he is mine because of Elizabeth.

As time broadens the distance between his birth and now, my list of things to say to her stretches to the stars. I have Elizabeth to thank for letting me be the first to hold this boy whose constant giggles launch from the tips of his toes, erupt into a room and bounce down the hallways. For tiny hands that press into mine, leading to adventures unknown. For helping me discover emotions I didn't know I had. For making grandparents of my parents.

We are the most intimate of strangers, Elizabeth and I. Fates of opposition brought us crashing together, but her actions created a new family for us and a future of possibilities for her. We offer in return the promise that our son's life will be filled with love and knowledge that his roots grow not from a single family tree but from an entire orchard.

For now, I am still basking in the glow that is my son's baby-verging-on-toddlerhood. Our days together are the typical whirlwind, but each night I tiptoe to his room to lean over his crib, listen to the melody of his breathing - and whisper a thousand thank yous to the fates that dropped him in my arms.

Comments 10 comments

AEvans profile image

AEvans 5 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

An absolute blessing! We also adopted our son so I completely understand what you are feeling for both the new baby and the birth mother. I wish you all of the blessings in the world on a wonderful journey that only those who have actually adopted clearly understand. Many happy years and thank you for sharing your story. :)


karenfriesen profile image

karenfriesen 5 years ago from West Coast, US Author

Thank you. I wrote this article awhile ago, and we now have two adopted sons and one biological. It's an amazing journey for sure!


JenJen0703 profile image

JenJen0703 5 years ago from Cereal City U.S.A.

That is amazing, that you had one biologically. The adoptive parents of my daughter had a 12-year old biological son at the time of her birth. The adoptive mother tried for the next 12 years with no luck. She and I were really close friends, and she was like the mother I never had. I had to distance myself over the years, but I never lost contact with them. I know where she is, I know her cell phone number, her name, everything. However, out of respect for their wishes, I have stayed out of the limelight and let them raise her the way they felt was necessary. When my daughter was 3, they gave birth to another child. What a blessing!


Rodeo Queen profile image

Rodeo Queen 5 years ago

It is nice to hear adoptive parents stories. I, myself, am a birth mother. Its so great you still recognize her. Thanks for sharing!


Rodeo Queen profile image

Rodeo Queen 5 years ago

It is nice to hear adoptive parents stories. I, myself, am a birth mother. Its so great you still recognize her. Thanks for sharing!


karenfriesen profile image

karenfriesen 5 years ago from West Coast, US Author

That must have been so tough when you were already close to her. Both of our adoptions were open, but I have very little contact with one of our birth moms -- her choice, not mine. My son would love to have more of a connection. I think all the people involved in the process just have different ways that they deal with their emotions.


JenJen0703 profile image

JenJen0703 5 years ago from Cereal City U.S.A.

I agree karenfriesen. Rodeo queen, I have always recognized her. I feel that just because she is not with me now does not make her less my daughter. I figure, what if one of my other children died right now? Would his existence cease? No, just as hers never will. Thanks all for the kind words. It is very encouraging.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon

Really beautiful! I have a good friend who went through a similar experience as yours. They now have an adoptive daughter and a biological son born just 6 months afterward. You have wonderfully described your mixed emotions experienced around your son's birthmother. Love it!


karenfriesen profile image

karenfriesen 5 years ago from West Coast, US Author

Thank you for the supportive comments, Steph.


Escobana profile image

Escobana 5 years ago from Valencia

Beautiful story! It sure is a gift of a lifetime! Very well written. I linked your story to my latest Hub about adoption. You deserve the extra attention in my opinion!

Voted up, beautiful and awesome!

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