Adoption · Family · Parenting

Empty Frames

We don’t have any pictures of our boys’ birthmothers.

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I am sad about this for my boys. They have asked about pictures, a little, and I think it will be more important to them later, as they grow up and think more about what adoption really means. Perhaps when they are first asked to make a family tree, or write an autobiography.

Each birthmother made the choice not to give us a picture. And so even though I would have liked those pictures for my boys, I wouldn’t change what is. They had their reasons, I am certain. And from women who were already giving us everything — their children, their hopes, their trust – to insist on more would have seemed cruel.

Mother’s Day is an obvious one, but I think of them often, our birthmothers. It has been some years now, and the faces I thought were seared into my brain are fading. We met them each for just a few minutes, all of us with fear and hope and adrenaline surging through our blood, and what I remember now are flashes and impressions. Long black hair. Shy brown eyes.

I try, when they ask me, to make word pictures of their first mothers. I tell them how they looked, and I tell them what they said, the best I can remember. Mostly, though, I tell them how they were; the things I will never forget.

She was strong.
She was kind.
She was generous.
She loved you so, so much.
She was afraid, but she was brave.

If I could, I would tell this to the mothers who gave me my children: We remember your names. We remember you. You are honored in this house. I hope, this Mother’s Day, that you are well. And I hope that alongside the bitter, there is sweet.

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