Today is the first Mother’s Day I’ve ever heard my 23 year old son say the words “Happy Mother’s Day!” This picture is the last time he was in my arms until the past year. When I was 17, I made the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my life: I chose his parents to care for him because I knew they could give him the life he deserved. This was not an easy decision, and it was one that haunted my life for the next 22 years until we were reunited.
The first year was the hardest. Every few months, I received pictures of my son. I lived for those pictures in the mail, but they brought me joy and sadness at the same time. I saw him growing, changing, and obviously loved. I wondered if I did the right thing, if his parents loved him, and if I would ever see him again. I also wrote letters, that I never mailed, that I carried with me everywhere I moved over the next 22 years. Separate letters to him and his parents, maybe more for my own sanity than for them. When I read these old yellowed pages of paper, I wish I had mailed them during that first year. The first year was the window of opportunity, because the agency cut off contact after a year. Those were the rules. Not too many years after, the agency closed. When I reunited with my son last year, I found out that his mother became sick with cancer when he was in high school and died as he was finishing high school.
I mourn this woman that I never got to meet. The missed opportunity makes me sad. I never got to tell her all the things I wrote in those letters. They always started with gratitude. I loved his parents for loving my son. When I had to leave the hospital on Christmas Day, in the midst of my tears and sadness I was able to find joy in the thought of his parents getting the call on Christmas Day to come meet their son for the first time. Their love for him was the only thought that kept me sane at times.
Today, on Mother’s Day, I’d like to summarize most of what I said to his mother during the first year of his life.
- Thank you for loving my son enough to make him your own. You are his parents now, I have entrusted him to you.
- Please teach him as he grows that I made the only decision for him that made sense at the time, and that the only reason I was able to do so was because I loved him more than life itself.
- Never for a moment think that I will ever come back into his life expecting to replace you. You are his parents.
- Love him always, even when he makes mistakes. Especially when he makes mistakes.
- Teach him to love people. Surround him with love.
- When you kiss his boo-boos, teach him his ABCs, hug him when he’s sad…know that you are having the moments that I will never have. I love you for that, even though it makes me sad.
- One day I hope you will love him enough to encourage him to meet me. I am a part of him, he is a part of me. I will never have all those tiny moments you will enjoy with him. But I do hope to meet him one day.
- Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. The letters are peppered with thank yous. I meant every one of them.
I looked forward to the day I would get to meet her, and she could tell me those things that only a mother can tell about a child. I wanted to hear stories about him when he was little. I wanted to be able to look back through her eyes and see what I missed. I had 22 years to sit and think about all the things I wanted to know from her. I wanted to make sure she knew how much I appreciated her.
I missed that window of opportunity to tell her these things, and yet… When I first contacted his Dad, he was immediately receptive to talking to our son and finding out if he would want to meet me. Our son is one of the sweetest, kindest young men I’ve ever met. He grew up surrounded by family who loved him. He loves people, especially elderly people. He loves animals. His parents always told him he was loved, that his birth mother must have been unable to provide for him but loved him enough to trust them with being his parents. I didn’t need to tell them how to raise him, they did it perfectly. My gratitude pours over for this woman I will never get to meet. All I can do is love her for him now.
So today, on the first Mother’s Day that I got to hear my son say “Happy Mother’s Day”, on the first day ever that he told me “I love you” before hanging up the phone…
Happy Mother’s Day to my son’s Mom. Thank you.