Ashley is a momma to her virtual twins, daughter’s Eden and Shiloh. As a former Purl family and previous blog contributor, Ashley is honored to return with her thoughts and experiences regarding adoption and motherhood. Though most days she is a stay-at-home momma, she contributes at Ataraxis Counseling LLC, where she supports women and mothers as a mental health therapist. You can follow along at Ataraxis_Counseling on IG, or at ataraxiscounseling.com.

I never expected the ongoing slew of emotions leading up to my daughter’s first birthday. We have an open adoption with her birth mother, and despite all the frequent communication, I felt so. . . sad the weeks leading up to my daughter’s birthday celebrations.

Granted, because of the pandemic, we couldn’t travel to be with her birth family and neither could she to us; and “real” birthday celebrations were halted. But I could tell it was deeper than that. I started remembering those days last year we had been in her city of birth waiting for her to be born. I remember the moments leading up to it, and continued to replay the tapes of those hospital hours.

The days our children enter the world will always leave a memorable imprint on us. And yet through adoption those days in particular can feel intense. If you scrambled to get to the hospital in time, or you were informed of your child’s birth even after he or she entered the world—all those factors can be replayed and re-mourned as the anniversary rolls by.

My memories in the hospital with my daughter and her birth mother were sacred. I had prepared for it to feel dark and heavy: and yet, for us it wasn’t once we were actually there. Our relationship with “Momma E” flourished, and I spent the night on the pull-out couch in her hospital room. I walked with her hand in hand to the NICU, where we gazed at our daughter together. We shared so many words that were encouraging and had fully given me assurance of her decision. It was not until we were saying our final goodbyes with her own flesh and blood tucked into our carseat and waving goodbye that those feelings grew dark and heavy. I had not expected her loss to impact me as it did. I had always known adoption was born out of someone else’s loss, but now that that person who indeed was “losing” had become a sister to me, it could no longer not impact me.

This weekend as I watched my one-year-old walk to her high chair, I contemplated how hard it must be hundreds of miles away for the woman I love and who bore my daughter. I thought about how badly she must long to see this daughter completing these milestones and eating her birthday cake. The videos and pictures I sent her I knew was not the same as being in the room with us.

So, like the day she was born, I had tied matching bracelets to her and to her first mommas’ wrist. It was a physical reminder to her that they would always be tied to one another, sharing something only they do. I latched the bracelet again, on her much chubbier wrist, as a sign of honor to the woman who choose us a year ago and who continues to be her first mother no matter how many days pass.

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