The Real “Dear Birthmother” Letter

A year ago today, approximately two-and-a-half months before we met our daughter’s mother, I wrote this letter. We had long since completed all the agency paperwork to adopt and were waiting to be chosen by an expectant parent. (Part of our profile as a hopeful adoptive family was a “Dear Birthmother” letter that had to be approved by the agency.) While our profile letter went through multiple revisions, this letter (below) was written in one sitting. I never intended to show it to anyone. I wouldn’t write it the same way now (for one thing, I would say ‘expectant mother’). But now that I am starting to blog about life as an adoptive mom, I thought I’d share it.  So here it is…

A_Dark_Starry_Night_Wallpaper_by_s3vendaysDear “Birthmother,”

We don’t know each other yet. It’s 2am and I am working on a paper for my last year of grad school and listening to Pandora. All I can think of is you.

I close my eyes and imagine you sleeping. All those stereotypes of birthmothers — that your life is chaotic, your boyfriend a jerk, your future uncertain — I don’t know if those are true.

I have a confession to make: MY future is uncertain. I’m 37 and no amount of wishing-working-trying can make me conceive. I thought I’d be a mama by now. But I’m not, and you are.

What do I do with my envy? Do I tell you that I’d take the jerky boyfriend, the chaotic life, for the chance to be pregnant? If I could trade places with you, I honestly don’t know if I would.

We’re stuck, you and I. I can’t be a mama, and maybe neither can you. They’ve come up with this plan – this industry, these agencies – called adoption.

Their plan is this: I take your impossibility and hand you mine. I don’t know if that is fair or good or right. I don’t know if it is the best for either of us.

But I’m stable and safe and quiet and I am supposed to know. That’s what adoptive moms who aren’t moms yet are supposed to do. We are supposed to look good in pictures – warm, nurturing, non-judgmental. No cooking pictures, the agency tells us, everyone does that. Not enough men in your photos, the agency tells us, don’t lesbians have male friends?

I can’t sleep and I can’t work and all I can think of is you. This plan they have made for us, is it a good one? Will you regret it? Will I? I don’t know. I haven’t met you yet. I don’t even know your name. And I long for you, for the impossibility of your life, so that I can hand you the impossibility of mine.

I want to meet you more than I have ever wanted to meet anyone. Does this mean I wish you suffering and grief? No. Am I selfish? Yes. I want only goodness and light for you. And I want to raise your baby. Your baby. How dare I?

All I know is that it is 2am and you are sleeping or not-sleeping and I am thinking of you. I am closing my eyes and blessing you. I am closing my eyes and blessing myself. Your impossible life and mine. One world and one night sky, full of stars. Anything can happen. I hope, for both our sakes, it is good.

Elizabeth
March 17, 2012