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Birthday Wishes

This week, we wanted to share a blog post written by adoptee and adoptive mom, Madeleine Melcher.

Her letter to her birth mother is both endearing and encouraging. Read on to learn from her experience.

wishesSo here I sit with my coffee, it is September 17th and the cool fall air has just begun emerging in the mornings–my favorite time of year.  A little quiet time when I can collect my thoughts before my sweet darlings get up for school.  It is my birthday.  My thoughts go to all the birthdays before this one, filled with special cakes made by my mom, gifts that I loved, parties with friends and the little train tray my mom would bring to our beds on our birthday ~filled with a special birthday breakfast as she cheerfully came in to sing.  But there is one other person I think of on my birthday…someone I do not even know.  Someone that had a lot to do with the actual day I was born, but who I have never carried on a real conversation with~  my own birthmother.

I find that many birthmothers I speak to want to know how I feel about my birthmother, in hopes to gauge how the children they placed through adoption but do not have contact with may one day feel about them.  I wish I had that answer for them.  Some do not have the relationship with the adoptive family that they thought they would and hope one day that will change and they can tell their child how they loved them every minute as they waited for that day.  Others chose not to have an open relationship with the adoptive family but still hope they will be thought of positively.  The one thing I have found with all of these women is they want to be thought of…remembered…and maybe, just maybe, even with love.

When people hear that I was adopted I usually get several reactions, “Oooh—that’s neat!”, “I didn’t know that” and “Did you ever look for your birthmother?”  Not ever knowing a time when I didn’t know that I was adopted and thanks to my mother who always made sure I knew I was loved, it has never bothered me for people to know or to ask questions of me.  I personally, have never sought out my birthmother and I always worry when birthmoms ask me about my story that that fact may dash their dreams of reuniting with their children.  But every story is different.   I am actually two sides of the story~ I am not only an adoptee but am also a mother who was blessed with her children through adoption.

Some people actually follow up their initial question with a “Why not?” when I tell them I have never met or sought out my own birthmother, others may not ask but I know wonder why not. We live in a time where we hear about adoption reunions all of the time.  We live in a time when adoption is much more common and many adoptions are open, or at least semi-open and it actually seems strange to some that I would not know her or at least now seek her out.  Didn’t I want to?

When I was in  Junior High—that time of life that I think none of us feel like we fit in anywhere and certainly don’t feel our parents can understand us, I went through a curious period and went through ever paper or file I could find in our house—looking for something my mom had kept from me.  I came up with nothing.  Why?  Because my mom had always shared everything she knew about my story prior to my adoption with me.  She always told me that she would support my search for my birthmother if I chose to do that.  For me it was more of a curiosity—and even at that age, I knew that.  I was curious about this woman who gave birth to me and cared for me for a number of months before giving another life .  I never doubted that she loved me. ..though I spent my 1st birthday very differently than my children did with their huge family celebrations and 100’s of pictures eating their “smash cake”—I spent my 1st birthday with a foster family.

Even as an older child, I remember thinking on my birthday that someone I did not even know was thinking of me.  I was not bothered by that, though it may sound strange, I actually liked that.  I think of her too—but differently now that I am a mother.  How hard it must have been to leave a child that you had carried, given birth to and held in her arms.  The more I hear stories from birthmoms about their own experiences the more I feel for my own birthmother and the choices she felt she needed to make.  Yet I have never felt unwanted. I never went through the thoughts or feelings of “why didn’t she want me?”  A lot of that goes to my mommy—the woman who loved and raised me and made my adoption a normal part of MY story from the start.  Just as most children know they came from their mom’s tummy, I knew I was adopted and my Mom handled it in a healthy way.  I encourage all adoptive parents to be honest and open with their children and not to speak about birthparents in a negative way.  Domestic agency adoptions are much different than those where a child was taken from a home because of abuse, neglect, etc. While some adoptive parents may feel threatened by speaking about birthparents—answer questions in an age appropriate way when you are asked by your children—if anything it will make them more secure.

I have known—it seems like for always—that I would not seek out my own birthmother.  While I am sometimes curious about what she looks like or some of the details of parts of my 1st year on this earth—it is not worth it.  It is not worth compromising the happiness SHE may now have.  She may have a new family that knows nothing about me…she may have finally come to a point of peace.  I pray she has, because I have had a wonderful life.  I hear some birthmoms say that they don’t know that their child has a better life, maybe just a different one.  I do not know what my life WOULD have been like, but I do know that her choices led me to an amazing, loving mommy who cared for me in every way, a sister that I could not love more if we were connected by blood, and a happy, well adjusted, full life.

So in the midst of balloons, gifts and childhood memories, to this person I do not know that I think of on my birthday—to my birthmother—I say,  “Thank you.  I know that life does not always go as we planned and that may have been the case for you.  Thank you for putting what you thought was best for me, before what you may have wanted.”  That is love.  Though I do not know her, I think of her with gratitude, as my lifetime of love began with her.  She is remembered and if SHE ever to needed to find me to find her own peace, I would not turn her away.  My story does have a happy ending and my birthday wish is that my birthmother’s does too!