An Adoptee's Letter to Her Birthmother

Parents take their children grow.
Parents take their children grow.

Dear Diana Gaye,

You don't know me, but I'm your daughter. You couldn't keep me when I was born, and although I wondered about the circumstances, I never questioned that your decision was the best one to make at the time you made it.

Growing up without you and the rest of my family was really hard on me, because I was never able to find the place I belonged. I was shuffled about like a misfiled bit of paperwork lost on the desk of a disinterested clerk. It just happened that way, as difficult things do to everyone in one way or another.

A ceaseless fire burned in me to find you, to see your face, hear your voice. I wondered if I found you whether you could learn to love me a teeny bit, if perhaps you could find some room in your heart to spare. I could be quiet, small, not take up too much heart-space, for just a little of you in return.

I was told over and over not to search for you, that I had no right, and I believed that for a long time. Birthparent rights were seemingly very important, yet there were no adoptee rights. My awareness grew and I started to see the same trends over again from countless adoptees and birthparents: adoptees wanted to know their roots; birthparents shared the sentiment but were frightened of rejection. Stern warnings of blowing your cover and poking where I wasn't wanted fell to the wayside. As I saw it, you took the time to name me "Melodye." Kind of flowery and airy, I always thought. Who names a baby they don't care about? I'd take my chances.

It took years. I followed wrong information and bad advice, and often chased my own tail, but I got leads. I moved along like a snail on a highway -- slowly but with a mission. The adoption agency sent me a little bit of information, non-identifying, of course, in accordance with state law that mandated all of my birth records be "closed" and irrevocably sealed. I became clever as I went, and one of my tricks was to call the agency back every few years to speak to a different case worker. I got small pieces of new information each time I tried.

They told me you were 22, a coal miner's daughter with many siblings, "pretty, intelligent" and had light-blue eyes. They also told me I had a brother, and that you weren't "in a position to care for" me. I knew finding you meant finding my brother, and could open the door to aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents, if any were still alive and were game to know me.

For years I lied to everyone who asked, "What if she wants no contact? What if she's a terrible person? Are you ready for that?" I gave the same stock answer every time, with a half-shrug, "Ah, no big deal. I have thought about it from all angles. I won't be worse off and at least I'll have the ANSWERS."

Ah, the "answers," the center of my semi-pseudo-bullshit stock answer. I couldn't tell anyone that I was hoping for far more than just answers, or of the oceans of tears I cried for you. This would make me look far "less than" than I already appeared to some. I had no people, no ancestors, no foundation and these things make you a bit lower in the eyes of many, as if the act of being taken away and lost had been acts of my design.

Know what I really wanted? You, and anyone else I could find who would make me a part of something sacred and giant, however beautifully flawed it might be. I wanted to sit around a holiday table with people who were mine, to not just spend the day alone or with gracious hosts, but to celebrate in a place where I wasn't a guest.

A few months ago, a large part of my journey to find you concluded. Through years of research, DNA testing, friends and the hand of Providence, I found or learned the fate of everyone I sought, even those disinterested in communicating.

I learned of you, mother, yet you aren't here to greet me, because you were sick and flew away in 2013 before I could get to you. My regret is that I didn't push harder to find you sooner so I could give you the peace you deserved before you left. There's a little plaque engraved with your name now and a bevy of people who love and miss you terribly. Because much of your family has gladly shared pictures and stories of you, I have found you. The search is done.

Thank you for carrying me to term through a very difficult period in your life. My sister tells me you cried and longed for me sometimes. I've never been longed for, and surely never cried over.

In this way, you held me in your arms.

I believe you thought that you needed forgiveness or some kind of absolution, but you don't. My life has gone along exactly as it was supposed to go. Something tells me pretty strongly you know how things turned out, even now. I hope you find joy in what you've created. I do. You and your loved ones are a treasure to me.

I want you to know that your picture graces my bulletin board, and you imparted me the legacy of the love you left behind in your family. This is my family now, too, because of you.

You were a beautiful, smart southern coal miner's daughter who left home to set off on your own, found yourself in a bit of trouble, but managed to give me what any of the best mothers gives her child:
love,
family, and
belonging.

Thank you for finding me. I give you all of my love.

Love,
Melodye