Mother’s Day is a reflective time. As the non-biological mother to my children, I often find the joy of my motherhood comes from the sadness experienced by others. This is a letter to my middle son’s Birth Mother.
On Mother’s Day I can think of no mother more deserving than a Mother that had to give one back. -Erma Bombeck
Dear Birth Mother,
Not a day goes by that I don’t think of you. My motherhood is intertwined with yours. Sometimes I think of our relationship like a tree. Together, we are his roots, providing the foundation and strength for him to grow and succeed.
When I look back on our first meeting, I am filled with regret. I desperately I wanted you to like me. I wanted you to know that I loved your little boy and would take great care of him. I didn’t stop to think about you. I rushed into your life, with my eye toward the future, plowing down everything in my way. I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t pause to listen. I mean really listen to you. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you that I love and value you, because I do.
The day we picked him up from the hospital, I never looked back. I couldn’t stand to see the pain in your eyes. The joy I felt that day was the direct result of your sadness and loss. Many of the joyful and unforgettable days we’ve had with this sweet boy, like his birthdays, his first Christmas, the day we adopted him, his first day of school, his first lost tooth, are probably the days you’d like to forget.
When I look at my son, I see a beautiful, sometimes messy mix of nature and nurture.
Every time someone tells me how handsome he is, I feel a twinge of guilt saying “thank you.” I didn’t have anything to do with it. His beautiful hair and handsome features, that all came from you. His sense of humor, love for animals, a sweet tooth — is that you or us? What about his musical abilities or intelligence? Where do his temper and persistence come from? Sometimes I see so much of myself and my wife in him. The faces he makes, his mannerisms, the food he likes to eat, all influenced by us. I guess we will never know which parts of him are genetics and which come from our influences, but together, he is one awesome kid.
I’ve loved him from the moment the phone rang with motherhood on the other line.
I imagine it’s similar to the moment you found out you were pregnant. In a single moment, I envisioned my whole life with him. His first steps, first words, high school graduation and so much more. I’m sure you did the same. I know in your vision of his life, you raised him and we didn’t exist. I know you never asked for us to be part of his life. That’s okay. Quite honestly, I never imagined you when I looked to his future either. It took us years to develop a future for him in which we both existed.
The contradictory nature of our motherhood to him is never lost on me.
I would say my son is one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received but that isn’t true. Gifts are given freely and that’s not how he was not given to us. Instead, I will say that this boy, Shay, is one of the most amazing things that ever happened to me. In order for Shay to continue to branch out and develop into an amazing young man, we have to continue to care for his roots. We have to nurture where he came from, so he is strong enough to move forward.
Today is Mother’s Day. I think of how hard this must be for you as a mother not often recognized as Shay’s mother. Please know that we see you. Shay sees you as a mother because you are his mother, the woman who carried him and brought him into this world. So, Happy Mother’s Day to the woman who is such a significant part of my own motherhood.
“A child born to another woman calls me mommy. The magnitude of that tragedy and the depth of that privilege are not lost on me.” Jody Landers