I saw you again today. Not over Facetime, or during one of the visits that have become all too rare these days, but in this look our daughter gave me. In the way her single dimple reflected yours as she smiled, and her eyes peered up at me like a mirror of your own.
She is your spitting image, a child who could not possibly look more like the mother who birthed her, or less like the mother who raises her. And I joke all the time that I am forever grateful for that fact; that I never could have made a child as beautiful as this one myself.
I’ll be honest, though; I never envisioned motherhood like this. When I pictured myself starting a family, I always assumed it would be with a man I loved, growing our baby beneath my heart. I was sure the children I raised would look like a perfect mix of us both, and that when I looked at them I would see my nose and hear my laugh.
It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I would never have that vision of motherhood. I grieved the loss of my ability to conceive in the only way I knew how; by allowing myself to feel it, to mourn it, and to avoid thinking about next possible steps until I felt as though I had fully moved on from it.
There was actually a point when I was so frustrated by people offering up adoption as a solution to my pain, that I revolted against the very idea of ever becoming a mother in this way. I didn’t want to have the grief over my empty womb diminished so quickly, by people who had so easily conceived themselves. I wanted what they had, not second best or the only option available — which I’m ashamed to admit, was how I viewed adoption at the time.
It took a few years for me to get past that; for me to come to a place of healing so great, that I was finally able to acknowledge I didn’t need to carry a child myself in order to be a mother. And when my heart finally did open to the idea of adoption, it was like the stars aligned and everything fell together leading to that random introduction between you and I.
I never want to diminish anyone else’s journey to adoption, but I can’t think about our story — about the chance meeting that led to you asking me to take your baby, due just a week later (and on the same day my foster care classes would be complete) —without thinking it is all so very steeped in fate.
Without believing it was all so very meant to be.
But even in saying that, I know your version of events may not look the same. I knew it that day in the delivery room, as I held our little girl and wept with joy over this miracle that had come into my life, all the while knowing you laid beside us fighting back the tears over all you were about to lose.
I don’t know how you did it. I don’t know how you had the strength to make the choices you did. I hope and pray you never felt pressured by me. That you believed me when I said I would work to help you find a way to keep this baby, if that was what you wanted instead. I hope you know it was true, and that as much as I wanted to be a mother, I never would have taken this little girl if you hadn’t been so sure that keeping her wasn’t something you could do.
But I also hope you know how very grateful I am. It’s been three-and-a-half years now, and I still look at this child with awe every single day. I don’t know what I did to deserve her. I don’t know why it is that I get to be her mommy. But I do know that she is the very best thing to ever happen to me. And for that, I will never be able to fully express my gratitude to you.
Still, I know it hasn’t always been easy. For either of us.
In the beginning, even as I worked hard to push my own jealousy and feelings of inadequacy aside, I struggled during our visits over the obvious bond you two had. It was hard for me, sharing this baby I already loved so much. And it was hard for me to acknowledge that another woman had carried her for longer than I’d known her; hard for me to admit that you had a tie to her I would never be able to replicate myself.
This wasn’t how it was supposed to be, you know? I was supposed to be able to carry my babies myself. And you were supposed to be able to keep yours.
But I’m happy that things went the way that they did. Because I can’t imagine any life I would want more than this one. I can’t imagine any child I would love more than ours.
Of course, I know the juxtaposition of my joy against your pain is so incredibly difficult to swallow. I know it isn’t fair. And I’m sorry that I’ve reached a point where I wouldn’t change a thing. Where my own selfishness would keep me forever choosing this path, exactly as it has turned out.
But the truth is, I would do it all again in a heartbeat — I would say yes to taking this little girl when you asked, even with the knowledge I have now of how painful that decision has been.
I’ve seen the shifts take place. I’ve noticed that as I became more comfortable with our open relationship, it seems to have gotten harder for you. I think that’s a reflection of the bond that’s taken place; in the same way I struggled with the bond you had with her in infancy, I understand why you would struggle with the bond I have with her now.
I also know it must be hard to see me parenting in a way that is different from how you might have. I can’t put myself in your shoes completely, but I know that when I try to imagine how hard it must be for you to watch another woman raising your child, I almost can’t breathe. My heart clenches and I wish that there was more I could do to ease your pain.
Maybe that’s why you’ve pulled back over the last year. Maybe sometimes, the reminder of what you’ve given up only makes things harder. I haven’t wanted to push, or force a relationship that you haven’t wanted to maintain. But I hope it’s okay that I keep sending pictures and letters; that I continue to remind you the door remains open.
For when, and if, you are ever able and willing to walk through it again.
More than anything though, I want you to know that you are a very real member of our family, and a constant source of discussion in our home. Your picture hangs in our daughter’s room, and she proudly tells people now how she grew in her Mama Becca’s belly. She’s starting to understand the dynamics of your connection to her more and more lately, and I regularly share with her the pictures of the two of you together and the story of how her adoption came to be.
I will always believe (and always ensure she knows) that our daughter has two mothers. One who loved her enough to care for and protect her in pregnancy, and another who has been lucky enough to love her and raise her in life.
Yes; our daughter has two mothers.
And whether we hear from you next week, or never again, please always know this: We love you; we are grateful for you; and we are always praying for you.
Thank you for making me a mother, and for trusting me to raise this little girl who is so very much a reflection of you, in a million different ways.