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An Open Letter to My Children's Birth Mother
Posted on May 10th, 2017

​An Open Letter to My Children’s Birth Mother:
This weekend in America it is Mother’s Day.  It seems appropriate that I write to you near this holiday, because I know that if you had a Mother’s Day in Bulgaria (I’m not sure if you do or not), you’d probably dread the holiday as much as I do.  So, at least we have that in common.
I have never met you, I probably never will.  But, it is important for me to let you know how I truly feel.  I often wonder what you think about me—I do have some ideas based on things I’ve been told—but I want you to know who I actually am, and what my feelings about our circumstances really are.
Let me start with statements of gratitude.  Thank you for giving birth to four beautiful, amazing, intelligent, sensitive children.  Thank you for carrying them each in your womb for 9 long months.  I have no knowledge of what it feels like to be pregnant or give birth, but I am grateful that you endured childbirth, probably with a great lack of medical oversight, each time.  I respect you for the pain you endured physically through labor and childbirth.  Your children are all amazing, beautiful, funny, resilient, strong, and morally grounded. 
Thank you for the times that you protected them when they were in harms way.  I know you were in a situation in which you really felt you had no control.  Your culture is different from mine. Your experience as a minority in a country where your ethnicity makes you a target for extreme persecution and discrimination left you with few options.  You lived in extreme poverty without any resources.  You are not an equal to your husband.  You, as his inferior, were expected to sit idly by while you watched things I’m certain you wanted to put a stop to.  Thank you for shielding my daughter's tiny bodies with your flowing dresses, allowing the fabric to swirl around them and to offer at least a thin layer of protection.  Thank you for your bravery and for doing all you could to help them.  I know it could not have been easy for you.  I cannot begin to imagine your feelings during the times they were removed from your home-- ultimately forever. 
Thank you for allowing me the absolute honor and privilege of raising your children.  I promise I will do everything in my power to make sure they have a happy, successful, and prosperous life.  They are my priority, my commitment, and my world in a way I never knew as possible.  They have changed my life, my perspective, my empathy, my tolerance, my world-view, my everything.  Through recreating a new family with them, they have caused a rebirth inside of me.
Someone once told me that you said that I could never be a real mother to your children, that only you, who bore them as your flesh and blood, could hold the title of mother.  And, that for a child to change their name and live with another family would be the ultimate disgrace to you and your family name.  I want you to know that I understand why you might feel anger, resentment, and rage towards me.  I also want you to know that I understand my place in my children’s lives.  I will never be their birth mother, and I am okay with that.  I can never replace you.  It isn’t a goal of mine, never has been. It is not a competition; I do not wish to erase the very few positive memories my children have from Bulgaria—most of them are about you.  I am not jealous when they talk about how nice and beautiful you were.  I smile and laugh with them as they share memories, because my goal in life is to see my children happy.
But, I see things from all sides, too.  I see that the circumstances you found yourself in did not allow for you to provide basic needs to these children.  I don’t know all of the reasons, and I don’t need to know.  Sometimes my children describe why, but they always speak of you with deep reverence and respect.  I share that with them.  I do not speak negatively about you, your choices, your circumstances, nor do I judge the situation for anything other than it has lead us to this point where I now have a privilege to step in and help.  
I have heard many people say despicable things about you, making snap judgments about a situation they don’t really understand, but I always defend you.  I always remind people that we cannot fully understand the decisions of others because we do not know the circumstances that lead the person to those decisions.  I always speak of you with respect, and defend every choice you made—good or bad.  Without you, I wouldn’t have the family I have.  I will always defend you and respect you because of this fact alone.
Mother’s Day has always been hard for me since engaging in this adoption journey.  The year we were waiting on our daughter’s adoption to be finalized, it was agonizing.  Last year, they’d been home just a little over a month and had just been ripped away from their brothers.  I was still not to be trusted.  We didn’t do much, in fact, I’m pretty sure the day ended in an argument and slammed doors.
This year, we’ve come a long way as mother and daughters.  I know I will probably get some gifts, I know for sure I will get hand-crafted cards from my girls that I can add to the thousands they have made for me this year.   We might go out to eat or my husband might make me a special meal.  Who knows?  It doesn’t really matter.  What matters is, over the last year, my children have come under my leadership, are learning what it means to be a part of a functional family, and are now willing to share their true feelings about me and the role I play in their lives.
My daughters do call me mom, and your sons want to as well.  And, that’s all I need for right now for Mother's Day.  That is the greatest gift.  You see, I’m pretty open minded as far as people go, and I believe that a child can have respect, love, compassion and understanding for a birth mother while also participating actively in a family that is able to provide the love, resources, nurture, and support that they need.
But, I also dread and grieve this holiday because I am aware that ALL adoptions come from a point of loss.  In our case, all four of our adoptions will be a direct loss to you.  I need for you to know that I know that.  I need for you to understand that everything I have done in this journey has been to help your children prosper, not to hurt you.  I will never speak a negative word against you.  I will let them form their own thoughts about their family life before they came to America-- they are entitled to do this without influence from me.  It isn’t a competition.  It isn’t about disgracing a family name.  It isn’t about dishonoring your flesh and blood.  It’s simply about the love of a child.  
And I desperately need for you to know the love that I have for your children runs as deep as if they were my flesh and blood.  There is nothing on this earth I would not do for them.  Believe me, my commitment has been put to the test multiple times.  I will never, ever give up on them.  My devotion and commitment is endless, and will always be centered around what is in their best interests.  I did, and am doing, what I feel is right.  Every decision is to improve their quality of life.  

I hope they make you proud.  I hope one day I do get to meet you, to touch you, to see where their beautiful features came from.  I hope that they get to see you and show you the amazing men and women they will become under the right care and leadership.  A group home is not a place for a child to languish.  All children deserve a family to help them attain their potential, and the potential I see in each of your children is endless.
It is God’s greatest gift, but also the heaviest responsibility of my life to parent your children.  I need for you to know I take it seriously.  Really seriously.  And I give you my word that I always will.
I wish God’s blessings upon you, that you may find peace, comfort, and joy in this life.  It is my greatest desire that the pain of this loss may one day be lessened for you.
Lastly, I am connected to you forever.  I view you as a part of my family.  I care for you, I pray for you, and think of you often.
On my right ring finger I wear a ring, it is a triangle with a heart around it.  It is the accepted international symbol for adoption.  The three points of the triangle represent: the birth parents, the adoptive parents, and the child(ren).  The heart signifies the love that all must share for each other.  I wear this ring not just as a trendy symbol of being an adoptive parent.  I wear it because I believe it, and I try to live it every day.
With greatest love, sincerity, and respect.
The “Adoptive” Mom

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Beth Schantzen - May 10th, 2017 at 11:04 AM
Beautiful, thank you for expressing and sharing this point of view echoed by many of us.
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