This open letter from an adoptive mother to a birth mother gives some insight to the heartbreak and joy of adopting a child and shares some.

A Letter to a Birth Mother

Dear Birth Mother,

I don’t know if I have ever imagined writing a letter to a birth mother. I have so much I want to tell you about the daughter you carried in your womb and will always carry in your heart. I have never met you, and I have so many questions I would like to ask and things I would love to discuss with you. I have questions that I want to ask on behalf of this precious child who calls me Mom but who will forever hold you in her heart because YOU are the mommy she first knew. Please know I mean that as a term of endearment, not resentment. 

As you know, we have never met. I have never been able to look you in the eye and talk to you. Likewise, you have never been able to look at me and imagine what I would be like as a mother to the precious child you carried to term and watched grow for the first 3 years she walked this earth. Oh, how I wish we could meet and talk. I would love to answer your questions too. I know you must have a million. 

I want to write this letter, a letter you will likely never see, but must be typed so it can stop residing in my brain. It clouds my mind, this letter. I feel like you must have questions for me, but maybe not. Maybe the circumstances in which your days of mothering your child ended are just too painful. Part of me feels selfish for even writing these words. If I am being honest, these words feel deeply private and uncomfortable to write. At the same time, I feel like the time has come to give these words a space to flow so they stop bouncing around in my mind and taking so much of my time.

Now, I need to pause for a moment and let you know that when I refer to her as “yours,” I say that with an intimacy that is present because she was and will always and forever be yours first. You are the person who she thinks of as her first mom. She is fiercely loyal to you. In the same way, when I say she is “ours,” I am referring to you and I and the delicate balance I walk as the mother to a child who was once mothered by someone else. It isn’t a dig or a tug of war. It is a term to describe the invisible, yet almost tangible, part you still play in our dynamic and in our lives. I hope you hear my heart when you read this. I feel you need to know that though you are not present, you are not forgotten.

I often think of the time our adoption journey began. To be honest, it has been a seed that had been planted in my heart when I myself was a child. As I grew, it did too. Always. I always imagined I would have biological children and adopted children. Until becoming an adoptive mom, however, I never imagined how it must feel for you. There have been so many times I wish I could have picked up the phone and called you. So many times I wish I could send you a text. I don’t know what I would expect to happen from the call or text. But it has always broken my heart to know you have no idea where she is now. You don’t know anything about the child she is or the person she is becoming. It must be so painful to imagine her living life without you there. If you wonder if she has forgotten you, I can assure you she has not. You are very present in our lives. 

This open letter from an adoptive mother to a birth mother gives some insight to the heartbreak and joy of adopting a child and shares some.

When I think about the timeline of our adoption and match it up with the timeline of her life, I see that life was hard for you then. I hope you are in a better place now—I have prayed for that many times. When my thoughts wander to the window of time that she was with you, it seems so chaotic. So many transitions in such a short span of time. I wonder if you ever had anyone to help guide you along the way. 

I wonder what your own childhood must have been like. I say that not to overstep or to judge, but to understand. I know your story is yours. I have no right to ask, but my wonder comes from a place in my heart that is broken for the life that you seemingly fell into as history seemingly repeated itself in the hard parts of your life. It is a peculiar space to exist in, knowing you only on paper, piecing things together to build a pictureless puzzle to help better understand our daughter, where she came from, and even more, what shaped you and brought you to the place from which she was removed.

I think you can see by now that I am walking the thin line of empathy for your broken past and anger for the damage done during our daughters’ early years. From the snippets of words written in case files, I have discerned that you had a volatile early life. You, yourself, had to go through hard things. It only makes sense that your lack of provision, protection, and parenting kept you from knowing how to parent or provide. 

When I objectively look at your life, realizing what I know about you is embellished with information I create to fill in the blanks, my heart breaks. I don’t feel pity, I feel deeply sad. My sadness stems from a place of seeing you when I look into our daughter’s eyes. Eyes that look so much like your eyes, that I can’t help but see you reflected in them. I only have a couple of pictures of you, but our daughter looks just like you.

I have righteous anger when it comes to the pain and hurt that has been inflicted on our daughter. The things that she had to endure while you were supposed to be the one who was protecting her are unbearable. I need you to know that the damage that was done during those first, crucially formative years has forever impacted her life. Every day, we fight battles that we never waged before in the fight for her life. I want you to know I am fighting. Every day I wear the armor that has been built by my fierce love, the love that came when she arrived broken, with deep sadness in her almost-hollow eyes. Every day, I look her in her eyes and offer her love and support that comes from a source of love that is far greater than me. 

I need to be honest with you. I am angry. I am so, so angry. She is a gift that came to you as a tiny little life that you could have loved and poured yourself into, but you didn’t. You broke her. Your neglect and abuse have left her reeling. I want you to know what your choices have done to her. I want you to look her in her eyes and speak right to her heart and let her know that you are sorry. She deserves that. She needs to know that you know the things that happened to her, and the terrible things that happened to her were not her fault. She needs your permission to let that go. She needs to hear you say that it is okay for her to love me and to let love in. She needs that so badly. She is stuck. Subconsciously, she fights my love with everything she has in her. I want you to tell her that I didn’t take her from you. 

I am also angry that she idolizes you and because of that, she suffers from that inability to attach to anyone. It is so heartbreaking to see the damage done by the inability to connect with other humans. I don’t know if you realize that your silent presence, while invisible to me, is fully present in our home. Loving me is a threat to what you and she shared. She feels that loving me fully would deny that you were ever really her mom. This inability to connect with me damages all other relationships. 

In case you wonder if she ever thinks about you, I can assure you that she does. She fights not knowing what happened to you daily. I wish I had more information about you, so I could try to find answers to her many questions. When she talks about you, she morphs into a small child, right before my eyes. She is a force to be reckoned with, but when she is allowing her vulnerable side to come into the light, she becomes small in stature and in demeanor. She wants to know all about you. She has so much anger inside, but her anger has turned into a shield around her heart that is fortified by stories she has created to keep you as her hero. It would be so hard, but so healing, for her to face you and get real answers and to be set free from the pain that is impacted by the created memories that help fill in the holes in her early childhood years. I don’t know if that could ever happen, but how I wish it could, at some point. 

I am so conflicted by my emotions toward you. My connection to you is deep and complex. On one hand, I would love to hear your story. I would love to actually hear you tell me what your life has been like. I have a strange maternal love for you. I wish so badly that I could have come alongside you and helped you. In contrast to the love, I have so much anger and frustration toward you. It is in this juxtaposition that I can’t separate the anger and the love sometimes. It is like I have true forgiveness for the harm you have done to our daughter because I see, albeit from afar, how you got where you ended up. Circumstances led to decisions and decisions led to consequences.

I have four kids. Two are adopted and two are biological. I have fought battles for all of my kids. However, the battle for our daughter far surpasses the amount of fighting I have done for my other three kids combined. Her battles plague her and I have walked with her through very difficult things. Things that no adult should ever have to experience, let alone a child. 

I am not sure what my heart was expecting to share today, but as I let the words pour out through my fingers, I realized something. The complexity of my love for our daughter is compounded by the love and anger I have toward you. I want you to know that I will continue to fight for our daughter. She is smart and resourceful. She is a victim, but we are working tirelessly to help her find freedom and step into victory. She is healthy, but mentally she has suffered so deeply, she is broken. So broken. She is broken, but she will never, ever have to sit alone in her brokenness. She is loved deeply and fiercely. I also want you to know that I hope you have found healing from your hurt. I pray you are safe and loved. I hope, in the depths of your heart, you know she is safe, and you can rest knowing she is deeply loved.

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Rebecca Dell

Becky Dell is a Staff Storyteller for adoption.com. Now married for over 20 years, her journey to motherhood started with a miscarriage, followed by the birth of her two biological sons, and brought to completion with the domestic adoptions of two daughters. You used to be able to find Becky baking cookies and playing trains with her two tiny sons, but now, you will find her learning to parent through the rough and rewarding world of adoption, attachment, and trauma. She is a fierce advocate for adoption and processes the many facets of adoption through written word.