Once a year, I get a day where my kids pretend it’s all about me. I get breakfast in bed and jewelry (well, it’s really more like cold toaster waffles and necklaces made from grubby elbow macaroni and yarn).
A day (or let’s be real, a few minutes) where it’s all about me is a welcome change of scenery from the daily grind of snack-making, booger-wiping, and patrolling the bedroom for closet monsters. You can’t really take an all-day break from important stuff like snacks and closet monsters, so I definitely enjoy my moment with my cold waffles.
But the night before Mother’s Day is more serious for me, a time of reflection when I think about a woman I’ve never set eyes on and will never meet. You see, my son is adopted from China. He was abandoned as a tiny infant, probably because of medical needs that his birth family couldn’t manage.
I don’t know his beginnings or his genetics. I don’t know why his birth mother didn’t keep him, beyond the obvious medical problems. I have zero information about who he got his dimples or his stubborn streak from. In many ways, his life began the day we met in a hot, crowded government building when he was three years-old.
But it’s more complicated than that. Kyle’s life didn’t start the day he met me. I’ll probably never know anything about his past but that doesn’t stop me from remembering the mother who came before me. I can almost-kind-of-but-not-quite see her in the corner of my mind.
And so, I write this letter to an unknown mother to honor someone who weighs on my mind every Mother’s Day, every birthday, and many other days in between. She’s never far from my thoughts.
I’ve spent hours wondering why you made the choice you did. I can’t imagine how difficult it was to walk away from your sick child, and hope he’d have a decent life. I like to think you watched from the shadows to make sure he was found by some concerned Good Samaritan and handed off to someone who’d make sure he was safe.
Although I don’t understand your choice, I don’t judge you for it. I have no illusions it was easy to walk away from a child you carried in your body. I’m sure there were tears that day. I hope your pain and guilt have dimmed with time, although that might be an unrealistic wish.
To say I think about you a lot is an understatement. I wonder if you’re at peace. Do you think about him? Do you wonder about me? I wish I could let you know he’s happy, healthy, and thriving. I wish you knew how much I love this child.
He doesn’t ask about you yet but I know that’s coming. I wish I could talk to you so you could tell me what to tell him about you, what pieces of his heritage you’d want him to know.
I have spent hours wondering what you look and sound like. I wonder if you have a sense of adventure that gets you in trouble or crazy dance moves. I wonder if you’re short, tall, thin or round. I wonder if you have straight hair with one unruly piece that stands up, no matter what you do.
I wish you knew I think of you when our son (because a part of him will always be yours) has another milestone experience. Big firsts like going to school and riding a bike and little firsts like helping me make chocolate chip cookies. I wish you knew you’re not forgotten. I wish you knew that in my own way, I love you.
People say Kyle is lucky. You might agree with this but I wish you knew I think I’m the lucky one. I wish you could see that he is happy and safe and that you’re not forgotten.
You’re the person in the world I’d most like to meet, although I know that’s pretty impossible. I think about you when I’m sitting on my couch at three in the morning because I can’t sleep. I wonder if you think of me the same way.
Someone once told me that I changed this child’s destiny. But that’s not true … he changed mine. And so did you.