Over the past week, I’ve had people tell me I was a good mom . . . not only to my daughter (who is 10 going on 35), which I’ve heard before, but to my son. Someone told me again today, and it made me cry. I was 18 when I “made an adoption plan” for my son (that’s what they say now). At the time, I was choosing the family who would raise him instead of me. Over the years, I’ve had people tell me that I did a wonderful thing for him, and I’ve had people tell me that I gave him a gift. But never before has anyone said I was a good mom.
He’s twenty-three now, and two weeks ago, I reached out through a letter to my son’s mom. Because I’m adopted myself, I understand what it’s like to have questions, and to want to know where you came from. . . . and I thought that he was probably old enough to deal with the complicated answers to the likely questions, and that if he wanted those answers, he deserved to have them . . . and I thought that maybe now it would be okay for me to know him without creating any more issues for him than I already had. That’s what I thought . . . what I knew was that in his life, she’s the one who has done all the hard work. She’s the one who was there for the “firsts” . . . and for the celebrations, and the challenges, and the struggles. And she deserves my respect. She deserves better from me than for me to go around her to try to establish a place in my son’s life. So when I felt that it was time to reach out to him, I knew that what I needed to do was to reach out to her first. It just seemed right.
I spent weeks very carefully crafting the letter . . . it was the most important one I had ever written. I wanted to make sure she understood that I knew she was his mom, and that I didn’t expect anything from her, or more importantly from him. I wanted to make sure she knew that I was adopted too, and I understood what that meant, and that because of that, I wanted him to have any answers that I had to give. I also wanted to make clear that any further contact was her choice . . . because she’s his mom. She knows him. She knows what his questions are (if his has any), and she knows what he needs. She knows if this is a good time for him to deal with these issues, or if this needs to wait because of other circumstances that I know nothing about. And I wanted her to know that I know she loves him, and knows what’s best for him.
Two weeks ago, I mailed that letter. And three days after that, I received an email from my son. Communication has been slow and gradual, which is what he wants, and I agree that it’s for the best. And we’ll see where things go from here. But for today, people think I’m a good mom to him . . . not just twenty-three years ago, but two weeks ago, and today. And that means more to me than words can express. To them, I’m not just his birthmother. I’m a good mom.