I should have written long ago.
That monumental exchange when your son became my son was more than two years ago. I have not written once. In all honesty, I don’t give you much thought at all. I promised myself that I would. In fact, before yours became mine, in a sentimental-yet-sincere letter to you, I promised that I would remember you, that I would hold you high in my (our?) son’s life. I know that you never read the letter, but still. I promised you. I promised me.
How is it fair or just or decent that I rarely give you a thought? The woman who conceived and carried and birthed my child; the woman somewhere out there in the vast unknown who surely wonders about me more than I wonder about her.
I have broken my word. And I guess this letter is a confession of sorts. A confession of wrong-doing, with no clear idea of what right-doing looks like.
Because I don’t know how to do this. Any of it.
How do I nurture this unnatural relationship I find myself in with a woman who is both an utter stranger and yet whose life and choices are linked to mine in a way that can never be unclasped?
How do I hold you up in my son’s remembrance when I have nothing to raise?
In that pre-adoption letter that you have never received, I thanked you for your gift to my family. I commended your courage. Were those words a platitude? Would you, the woman who gave up so much, take comfort in those words written by me, the woman who understood the magnitude of the giving so little?
Birth mothers are brave. That’s what we all say. It gives us mothers-by-adoption consolation, I think. It gives us a detour from the uncomfortable sense of unfairness that I have him. That he is mine.
Birth mothers are brave, I tell myself so that I can escape the suspicion that you carry an unimaginable load of grief. The uncomfortable sense that I perhaps somehow inflicted your grief by taking him when you gave him.
But are you brave? I wonder. Without a doubt, that moment, that huge moment when everything changed for you, for him, for me…that was brave. But every moment since? When changing your mind was not possible? When the course of The Choice was set and there could be no reverse, no U-turn…were you brave then? Has your bravery endured?
I don’t know how you get through the days, or, God help you, the nights. Maybe you don’t. Maybe your life is hell as you grieve the loss of your child. Do you mourn? Do you regret? Do you keen silently where no one sees as you go on with your days, forever marked by That Day?
Forgive me for not grieving over your grief. For not wearing my knees raw in prayer for the woman who knew my son before I even knew of him. For not carrying you in my heart, as you carried him in your womb.
We are inextricably linked, you and I. By a tender little daydreamer. To know him is to love him. You knew him first, so I can only conclude that you must love him too.
There are many things I know about him that you have no idea of. His sleepy wake-up face. The sweet way he says “Sissie.” How he tells me every day “Me miss Daddy” while Daddy is at work. His hilarious stride as he runs. The way that it took him 7 months to master riding his training bike.
But, you see, there are things that you know about him that I don’t. The feel of his movements in your womb. The time of his birth. What he looked like as he slipped out from you into the world. His biological father’s name.
[eltdf_blockquote text=”And I’m realising that without your son there can be no my son. As he grows, he will want to know more of you. And I wish I could give him more. Because you and I…together we complete him.” title_tag=”h2″ width=””]
He is doing well, our son. Just fine. He loves and he is loved. He is bookended by a big sister and a baby brother. His precious life is surrounded by so many people who adore him. He is precocious and funny and sweet and tender. And he is fine.
With each new revelation of his budding sweet personality that surely could not have come from me, I wonder about you. I think of you. And maybe that can be my gift to you; my hopelessly inadequate show of gratitude to the woman who gave him to me.
Allison Van Der Walt
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