My becoming a mother came at a high cost to someone else. And on this Mother’s Day, I want to honor that sacrifice.
My husband and I adopted our son when he was 4 years old. We had the opportunity to meet his biological mother once, which I am grateful for. When I think back to that day, I can remember the pain in her voice. The sadness in her eyes. The mixture of shame and anxiety and regret and fatigue that were evident in her body language and her distant glances. But I also remember her intentionality and the way she carried herself with grace and humility. I saw her son’s/our son’s face in her deep blue eyes. I knew in that moment she would always be a part of me.
As I celebrate my third Mother’s Day, my heart is drawn back to her. I have so many things I want to say to her now, almost three years later. So I wrote her a letter.
There are so many things I want to say…
First of all, our son is amazing. He is a fun and gregarious boy who makes others feel comfortable and valued. He is full of insight and awareness. He has a beautiful imagination and sense of adventure coupled with a thoughtful care and respect for the world. He draws people in with his ability to connect and his sweet spirit. He is a special boy.
You are not forgotten. I think about you often, and our son does, too. I see it in his eyes. A far off look of wonder and concern. A creased brow. A wide-eyed expression of excitement followed by a pause. A feeling he can’t quite name. A deep connection to his past that will never leave him.
He remembers and so do we.
You are not alone. You carry us in your heart just as we carry you. You are an integral part of my story, and because of that, we will always be connected. Our son keeps you with him in his big smile and his cute nose and his memories. You are always with us.
You are mentioned. I do not pretend you don’t exist or quiet our son from speaking your name. I honor your presence by asking him what he remembers and leaving room for him to speak freely about you whenever he wants or needs to. Every time we meet someone with your first name, he jolts his head up and smiles at me with a knowing glance. He calls you his first mom, and I do, too.
You are still a mother. You gave me the gift of motherhood, and now that I have experienced it, I know I can’t ever go back. I will always be a mother, and so will you. Although he isn’t calling for you in the middle of the night or asking you to tie his shoes, you know the feeling of love for your child. You made choices to protect and support him. You intimately know the pain and guilt of wanting the best for your child and not knowing how to give it to him.
You are still a mother, and you always will be.
I want you to know that you are a precious and valuable human being. I don’t know what you believe about God, but here’s what I believe. He created you. He knows you. He loves you. Your love and sacrifice is a reflection of God’s love and sacrifice, and he hasn’t given up on you. I pray that you know how precious and valuable you are, to me and to God.
Most importantly, know that our son is loved. As a mother, the most meaningful thing someone can do for me is to love my child. To treat my son with dignity and to honor his journey. To notice him and to value him, not for what he does, but for who he is. To put his needs above her own and to give sacrificially to him. And that’s what I promise you.
I want you to know that our son is loved. And so are you.
Thank you for making me a mother and for entrusting me with the most profound job of my life. Our son is growing so fast. In the blink of an eye, he went from a preschooler with training wheels to a kid riding roller blades. He is doing well. We hope you are, too.
Mother’s Day is not easy for many people. My son’s first mother is just one example of that. Remember that this weekend. Look around at church or at brunch or the grocery store and show love and compassion to those with far-off looks. I hope someone does that for my son’s first mother today.
Lord, be with the grieving, with the barren, with the lonely, with the distant, with the orphans, with the broken-hearted… Today and always.