Love Only a Mother Can Know

3 years ago

December 13, 2007

Dear Ana Lu,

Hey there my sweet girl! It’s been an exceptionally busy day for us, I’m exhausted. I just changed you, gave you a pacha, sang an off-key lullaby, laid you down in your crib and kissed you goodnight. I’m beat.

Still, I’m compelled to write because this day is a monumental one in your life. For that matter, in my life as well. I hope when you read this, many years from now, my words will convey the enormity of today’s events and the undeniable fact that you are much-loved, Ana Lu. I can tell you with absolute confidence that your birthmother loves you more than you will ever be able to imagine. I’ve seen her love for you. I’ve seen it in her eyes, read it on her face, and felt it in my heart; she loves you immensely. Love that only a birthmother can know.

I want you to know that I’m writing this on the very day I first laid eyes on your birthmother, and your birthmother first laid eyes on me, your mom. Today I met your birthmother, Sweetie.

Today I met your birthmother.

 

Delightful Dimples Every Single Day

It’s not typical for the birthmother and adoptive mother to meet. Typically, the adoptive mother remains in the States while the adoption paperwork is filed. I moved here about a month ago, to a country thousands of miles away from the familiarity of home, for an undetermined length of time, so I could raise you.

One day I was enjoying pictures of you via the Internet, and the next day I quit my job, packed up my bags, assured your father this was the right thing to do, hugged my friends goodbye and moved to Guatemala. Now I get to wake up to those delightful little dimples of yours every single day. Love that only an adoptive mother can know.

Before I relocated here I never spoke more than 200 words in Spanish. I never heard of a Quetzal. I never lived without a car. I never have been the racial minority. I never have been a mother (much less a single mother). And our attorney told us stories of  American adoptive mothers and their babies being kidnapped and held for ransom;  gangs here in Guatemala know that we have husbands in the States who have, or can find, ransom money in a moments notice. I was scared when I first moved here. And, quite frankly, sometimes I’m still scared. Yet, I’ll continue to embrace all of it so we can be together. Exactly as we are meant to be. You cannot come home yet, so I’m bringing home to you. Sacrifice that only an adoptive mother can know.

 

Uncomfortable? Good. Grow.

The Guatemalan government requires any child placed for adoption be brought to a health clinic on two separate occasions to have a DNA test, take a picture of the birthmother holding her child and get a signature from the birthmother that she in fact is placing her child for adoption. This morning you and I took a taxi to the clinic, right around the corner from us, for your appointment.

This morning your birthmother traveled to the clinic as well. However her travels were much more dramatic than a simple taxi ride around the corner. Your birthmother had to take a day off from work, which is a big deal here. Bosses frown upon special requests, and jobs here are scarce, but workers are plentiful. Your birthmother risked losing her job coming to the health clinic today. She drove three hours from rural Guatemala to the city, waited two hours in the clinic, met your adoptive mother and then drove three hours back to her home. She did all of this for you. She went through this entire process and consequently heart wrenching experience so that she could officially place you for adoption. So that you could begin your life with your adoptive parents. Sacrifice that only a birthmother can know.

The health clinic was filled with Latina woman. It’s very rare to have an adoptive mother  at the clinic, so mine was the only white face in the crowd. It was such a great experience for me to sit there as the minority. Like so many experiences I’ve had in Guatemala, I had to learn to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. But honestly, Ana Lu, you’ll understand this when you’re older, but it’s fantastic to feel this way; the more uncomfortable we are, the more we grow.Suffice to say Guatemala is helping me grow quite a bit my Sweetlove!

I remember thinking this is how minorities must feel all the time. I wonder if this is how you’ll feel as you grow up. And I wonder if you’ll talk to me about it. I hope you do. I will do my best to make sure you have Latina role models in your life that you can talk to about such things, but sometimes I worry that may not be enough.

I worry that I may not be enough.

 

Ella es Pobre

Having seen photos of your birthmother, I recognized her immediately when she walked through the door. A denim skirt and white top covered her petite frame. She wore her hair back and up in a white scrunchie. A woman walked in with her. At first I thought this woman was a taxi driver, but it became obvious she knew your birthmother pretty well. Having her friend there was a blessing because she was very outgoing. She motioned to your birthmother to sit next to me and then sat on the other side of your birthmother. Your birthmother didn’t make any eye contact with me. I can only speculate, but I think she felt intimidated by me. Of course this was the last thing I wanted, but I didn’t know how to make her comfortable and communicate that  I felt very humble meeting her.

I noticed your birthmother and her friend were talking about me, but I had no idea what they were saying. Shortly afterward, her friend turned to me and while gesturing toward your birthmother, “Ella es pobre.” (She is poor.) Her friend continued speaking to me, saying…

 

 Love Only a Mother Can Know (PART 2 of 2)

Part 2 of 2 to follow: Ana Lu’s birthmother holds Ana Lu for the last time and says goodbye to Ana Lu forever. I absorb the pain of the birthmothers in the clinic.

 

EXCERPTS  FROM PART 2:

“Perhaps she felt strange holding you in front of me.  I waited a few heavy, awkward minutes,glanced over at your birthmother, and again invited her to hold you.  She declined.  After a few minutes she looked to her friend and nodded.  She was ready.  I gently placed you into your birthmother’s arms.”

“I thought about running around the room and giving one woman my earrings so she could feed her family for two weeks, giving another woman my sweater so she could feed her family for eight weeks.  I wanted to give away everything.  My necklace, my clothes, my shoes, the baby carrier, anything I had in my pockets until I stood there, naked, shedding the skin I felt so dirty in.

 

 

 

Gretchen 

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