A Mother's Day Letter to My Son's Birthmom


Dear Ms. E,

Here in America, Mother's Day is knocking at the door yet again, and yet again I think achingly of you.  I think of how, 6 years ago, you must have been touching your stomach subconsciously.  How you must have been wondering about this little being growing inside of you; whether it was healthy, when it would come, whether it was a boy or a girl.

It was a boy, the most passionate little boy I have ever met.  And being his mom has been one of the greatest honors of my life, but sometimes I grieve, too.  I grieve for you, that you never got to know this fascinating human that you gave life to.  I grieve for him, that he was cut off from the very first personal relationship he ever had.  I grieve for a world that is so broken, so unfair, that things like this that were never meant to happen, do.

But I want you to know that I don't grieve sharing him with you.  I am deeply proud to be one of two of this child's mothers.  I am proud to tell him of his Ugandan mother who carried him in her body, who surely loved him even though life was cruel.  I am proud to tell him that you sacrificed for him, and that one day he will love so big that he sacrifices for someone else too.  I am proud to look him in the eye and tell him with a face full of Truth, "we are both your mothers, and we can both love you, baby".

I am proud (and a little terrified) to represent motherhood to him and to hope that somehow, some way, it will be enough to give him a glimpse into your love as well.

I want you to know that you are honored in our home.  That we speak tenderly of you out of the blue on random Thursday evenings, that we light candles in memory of you on special holidays, that we pray for you.

On this side of heaven, I will never fully know the circumstances you were facing when this baby came into the world.  I will never know what your life was like or everything you felt about the pregnancy.  I wish you could sit on my tattered red couch and sip tea with me while you tell me all about it.  I wish I could give you a hug or hold your hand while I reached for the sugar.

I wish I could make you know how very much I love our baby boy.

I wonder what you'd think if you knew we'd named him Alyosha.  I bet you'd arch one eyebrow, the way you Ugandan women have a habit of doing.  I wonder if it would help to know it means "defender of mankind". Somehow, deep inside, I have a feeling you would like that.  This child that you bore, he was made for amazing things.

You should know that our baby, he struggles sometimes.  He faces challenges that have pained me for years. Sometimes I handle it really well.  Sometimes I fail miserably.  But I want you to know that his daddy and I, we are playing for keeps.  He has our whole hearts for our whole lives, and I hope it comforts you to know it.

You should also know that your boy is brave and kind.  He loves babies and being a big brother.  He tells me he loves me both in words and in sign language every single day.  He is smart.  He is funny. He is shy.  He can write his name. He loves pulleys and gears and building machines.  I wish you could know these things about him; you deserve to.

I won't always do the right thing as I parent our boy, and I will probably always wonder if you would have done it better. But I hope that one day, should we meet face to face outside of time and outside of space, you will give me a hug or you will hold my hand, and you will look me in the eye with your face full of Truth, and you will say that I too am his mother.

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A few notes.  First, I intentionally kept this letter vague for two reasons: that I may respect my son's privacy and the privacy of his birth family, and that it may better resonate with a variety of other people as well.  Second, this is my particular journey and my own feelings.  They very much accord with the way many adoptive mothers feel, but certainly not all, and I want to validate those experiences and feelings as well.  Adoption is complicated and emotional and I would never want to make others feel guilty for not feeling exactly the way I do.  But I do want to honor birthmothers around the world this Mother's Day, and this is my sincerest attempt to put my feelings into words.

Someday, the light will shine like a sun through my skin & they will say, 'what have you done with your life?' & though there are many moments I think I'll remember, in the end, I will be proud to say, I was one of us.

(Brian Andreas, Storypeople)