To my daughter’s birth mother:
I think of you often. You are the woman who gave my daughter life; my first child who called me “mommy.” Bringing her into this world started the first chapter of a book my daughter can write because of you! And I am honored to be the one to read her story.
I know what a mother’s heart feels, I remember the first day I met our sweet girl through a picture. Gratitude and joy overcame me. My heart knew we belonged together but was saddened by the reasons why.
Adoption is like a painting of beautiful, bright colors. But what first existed underneath all the beauty is layers of darkness brushed against the clean, white canvas. The darkness symbolizes loss, isolation, and possibly abandonment. The longer you look, the more you see the dark spaces begging to be remembered and explored so the eye can go back to the beauty at the surface.
Our little girl’s story mimics this painting. You gave her the white canvas and life circumstances gave her the darkness. A darkness she will one day grieve. Right now she is young and innocent. She is secure in the life she knows and unfamiliar with her past. But her past is an important part of her story.
I know there will come a day when questions arise, and an aching will emerge. These feelings will be influenced by someone my daughter hasn’t yet discovered and a loss not yet understood. The awareness of you may even dim the light in her eyes; eyes that may have matched yours.
Every giggle and new discovery my daughter and I share have my heart bursting with gratitude. But during each new milestone cherished, a tiny part of me hurts wishing you had a glimpse into her world. I know you would have loved to embrace her after her first steps or give her advice before her first day of school. You would have laughed at her crazy hair in the mornings, and your fingers would have naturally tamed her curls.
I grieve for the unfulfilled memories your heart had conceived as you shared your body and carried this baby. I am saddened when I think about those kicks you felt within, her features you imagined as she grew, and the separation you may or may not have anticipated so quickly after she came into this world. You held her in those first moments she breathed in life. I know you would have relished in her long fingers and her eyes that look like pools of sparkling chocolate. She would have smiled at you because her spirit manifests joy. Her survival depended on you and the nurturing you lovingly gave her as long as you could.
It’s hard to picture your lives together and the trials our daughter faced when she first lost you. I hope she has your strength like she may have your smile. There are days when she rubs my arm while she is tangled up with me in bed; her long limbs often poking my ribs as she tries to get comfortable. She points out that she is “brown” and “mama is white,” and asks if she can play with my hair. I tell her the story of how she was born to her African mother as she looks at me with a tilted head and confused expression. She tells me she lived in my belly, and I sometimes forget she didn’t.
But what I won’t forget is the love of a mother. The love that you gave for as long as time allowed. Sometimes I catch her staring blankly while being caught in a whirlwind of thoughts. I don’t know what she’s thinking or what her future holds. What I do know is that I promise to walk next to our daughter and honor you as the mother who gave her life while I am the mother to share her life. You might not share in her present journey, but you share a part of her being. And, together, we both share the beautiful story of her past.
A grateful mother
I wrote a shorter version of this for Mamalode.
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