An adoptive mother and guest blogger shares her story of striving for openness in her daughter’s adoption. This post has been authored anonymously to protect the stories of her child, and her child’s birth mom.
It has been two years since I’ve seen my daughter’s birth mother. Two years since I’ve heard from her.
We had as open of an adoption as you can imagine. She chose me to be my daughter’s mother. We shared with one another. She was gracious in including me every step of the way. I made her OB appointments, I drove her to them, she allowed me next to her for every exam, every decision that was made. We talked about our pasts, our dreams, our futures, our fears. I had the privilege of coaching her through childbirth and welcoming our daughter into the world together. We love each other.
But our relationship is also complicated. I took care of her because I love her and because I wanted our baby to be healthy, because I knew establishing a loving relationship of respect was best for our child. Selfishly, I wanted all the experiences of motherhood that came before my daughter was born, too, so I was happy to be involved and carry responsibility throughout the pregnancy. She was happy to be cared for and loved in a way that she hadn’t often experienced before. I think we were both grateful.
When our baby was born prematurely and spent weeks in the NICU, my time and focus had to shift to our daughter’s care. I did my best to juggle my children at home who still needed a mother, our new baby who was medically fragile, and my daughter’s birth mother who was enduring the most incomprehensible grief–the loss of her child. A loss because she chose me to be her mother. But my best efforts still fell short. My daughter’s birth mother felt the shift, and while I know she understood logically why it was the way it was, it hurt her.
She told me so, and I felt brokenhearted. I felt that I had failed her. I tried to assure her that I loved her as much as I always did, that I did not at all want her to feel abandoned by me, and that I was doing my best to spread my care and attention to everyone who needed it. But an explanation doesn’t mend hurt and trauma.
I won’t share all of the complexities that unfolded or the further trauma of those weeks and months. But she vanished from our lives, I’m sure because it was the best she could do to preserve herself emotionally. I didn’t hear from her again, and I couldn’t find her. Every so often, I googled her name, just out of fear that the worst had happened. I thought of her every day and hoped that she was safe. I hurt for my daughter, who I feared would never know her birth mother. And had I caused this distance? It was the opposite of everything I had wanted, everything I felt I had very intentionally worked for.
Though I was hurt too and though at least a piece of me felt angry toward her, I decided I would do what I knew to be best for my daughter. I looked at my relationship with my daughter down the road. Will she want to know how I handled myself? Will she wonder if I did my part to keep this relationship with her birth mother an open possibility? Will she question my motives and my actions in response?
While I wished desperately that my daughter’s birth mother would open herself to us again, I decided there was one thing I could do consistently. I could send her photos and e-mails on a regular basis. I could ensure that she could see her daughter was healthy and happy. I could share updates on this beautiful little girl’s development, her personality, the ways in which she takes after her birth mother. I could tell her birth mother regularly that I love her, that I think of her, that I miss her.
So, I did.
Honestly, sometimes it was hard. Sometimes I didn’t want to. Sometimes I worried that my messages were causing her pain.
For two years, I never got a response. I wondered if she ever even received them. If she would ever see these pictures of her beautiful daughter. If she knew and believed that I love her and miss her and think of her.
And then, last week, out of nowhere, I got an e-mail.
“Thank you for the updates. You’re the best.”
My heart burst out of my chest with gratitude for her health and safety. With love for her. With relief that the door is still open for my daughter.
I’m not the best, but I’m trying.
Sometimes the right thing is a little bit hard to do. But when it’s for our children, we must do the right thing. It’s all for them.