Dear Future Birth Mother,
We haven’t met each other, but I hope we will. I hope you’ll see my and my husband’s picture on an adoption website, or maybe in an adoption practitioner’s office, and think, “Yes, that’s them. That’s who I’ve imagined.”
As if either of us could ever have imagined this.
We wanted to look our best for you, my husband and me, so we had a professional photographer come and take those pictures of us, the ones I hope you’ll see. I stood facing my closet until moments before the photographer arrived, agonizing over my outfit.
“What would a mother wear?” I wondered. “What does a mother look like?”
I settled on my favorite polka dot dress because, well, it’s my favorite. My husband and I tried to appear casual and cool, effortlessly parental, and I hope that’s what you see when you look at us. But even more than that, through the professional photos, the poses, and the much-thought-about outfits, I hope you see two people who make each other laugh, even amidst great pain.
My husband and I have been making each other laugh since we were 11 years old. We met at summer camp, during an evening program where the whole unit formed a circle around a person in the middle who had to approach someone and try and make them smile by saying: “Darling, I love you will you please, please, smile.” Stephen, my brave, bold, future husband, walked straight up to me ― not the girl on my right who was far more developed, or the one on my left who rightly knew that side ponytails had gone out of style ― but to me. I said, “Darling, I love you too, but I just can’t smile,” which was part of the game, but I meant it. I loved him straight away. Looking at him from under my ‘80s bangs, I already knew I wanted to be with him always.
We have made a happy home together, Stephen and I, with our cat Olympia and our dog Diego, and the four of us can’t wait to love a child with all our hearts. Our house is filled with love and laughter, more ups than downs, and all of the unique quirks and steadfast routines that make houses homes and people families. Some days we’re emboldened by the unknown adventure ahead, and there are others where I worry that I will never get the chance to mother. I hold the cat close, trying to imagine the heft of a baby in my arms, and tell myself that if all I ever get to do is love animals, I will be okay.
But I really want to be a mom.
My husband, Stephen, and I are so excited to adopt a child. We celebrated the completion of each requirement in the adoption process, as we got closer and closer to being officially eligible to become adoptive parents. Having our photos taken for our adoption book felt like our version of an ultrasound. Tara, the photographer who took our photos, wouldn’t take any money for all her hard work. “Just close the circle,” she said, “Pay it forward.” Her generosity brought me to tears. We hope to one day show these pictures to our child, so they will know how very much they were hoped for and wanted, and to teach them that all that really matters is kindness.
I don’t know what to do with myself as I wait. I read articles about adoption. I go deep with my Google searches. I wander my neighborhood. Yesterday I bought two pieces of lucky bamboo, one for you and one for me. I watch them growing together in a small glass bottle by the window, their roots extending to each other. They look sturdy and strong and much healthier than the parsley and dill I attempt to grow indoors each winter. I rub their small leaves, against my forefinger and thumb, imagining this bringing us both good fortunes.
I ache to know you. I was so nauseous while taking hormone injections during fertility treatments, and I worry about how you are feeling. I worry that you are experiencing any discomfort at all, and I wish I could free you of it. Every headache, every pain, every bout of morning sickness, I wish I could take it all. Please know I would take it all if I could. What can I offer you except my love and support? What can I offer you except my assurance, my lifelong promise that your child will be loved unconditionally – on the good days and the bad – and never question the safety and support we will provide. We hope to foster their natural curiosity and provide for them the means to pursue their own interests, whatever those may be. We will help them understand the world around them and hope they discover an appreciation of different peoples and cultures, a respect for animals and the environment, and a genuine care for the well-being of others. We plan to expose them to the incredible diversity of opportunity and experiences this world has to offer, and then get out of their way. Let them explore and discover, fail and succeed, love and be loved. I hope to make you proud of the mother I know I can be.
It took me some time, after my friends and family had children, to want to be a mother. I lost my own mother when I was 23, and the pain of that loss frightened me. I didn’t know back then what I know now, which is, as Ernest Hemmingway said, “the world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” I am so strong in my broken places now. So much so that I don’t regret my experience with infertility; I don’t regret wanting a child so much that my heart quakes in my chest from the sheer force. How could I when it means I will get to meet you? As the pain subsides I feel a lightness and breath and hope, knowing that it was making room for so much love.
I was heartsick when my mother died, knowing that my child would never get the chance to meet her. My mother was feisty and fierce and stylish and funny and I lamented the fact that this incredible woman wouldn’t be part of my child’s story. “How sad,” I thought, “that my child won’t have this incredible matriarch in their life.” But I don’t feel sad for my future child anymore because, while they won’t have one of their grandmothers, they will have you and me: a birth mother and an adoptive mother, two strong women who love them so much.
I hope I get to meet you soon. I hope this child ― our child ― inherits your incredible courage, and kindness, and resolve, and my infinite capacity to dream.
Wendy, a hopeful adoptive mother