You were my son’s first mother. You were the one who conceived, carried, and gave birth to him across the world. He lived with you for the first two years of his life. Other than that, I know very little about your relationship with him.
The documentation says that you were an alcoholic and that you neglected him. It says you never visited him after he was removed from you by the authorities and taken to live in a hospital, and then an orphanage. It says you were not married. I do know that documentation doesn’t tell the whole story.
In court, I believe I remember hearing that you yourself were a product of the orphanage system. I believe I remember the orphanage director showing me paperwork that indicated you gave birth to at least two other children whom you did not end up keeping. It seems that you just weren’t capable of being a mother, but it also seems like, at least with this boy, you tried.
When my son came home and had difficult behaviors and we had trouble attaching, I blamed you. I felt like you had irreparably damaged him; I was wrong. I saw short-term memory problems and extreme impulsivity and became angry that you drank while pregnant. But then I saw innate generosity, easy laughter, and a zest for life, and I gave you credit.
Shortly after he came home with us, I felt guilty that I had custody of the son you did not voluntarily relinquish. I couldn’t imagine the pain I would feel if anyone had removed the daughters I gave birth to, no matter what the reason. I wrote you letters and had a translator try to find you and give them to you. Even though I had some contact information for you, we had no luck. I desperately wanted to let you know that he was safe, healthy, and thriving so that at least you wouldn’t worry about him. That is what I would have wanted if I were in your place. It still haunts me that I was never able to get those letters to you.
From the beginning, I have tried to be both honest and compassionate when I tell my son about you. When he was little, I told him that you were just not able to take care of any baby, and that it was not his fault. I told him you must have loved him. He would ask me why you didn’t get the directions for how to take care of a baby. I would say you had big grown-up problems and that most likely, nobody took good care of you, either.
Now this boy is 14-years-old. He gets mad about you every once in a while, and I try to remind him of what I told him when he was little. As he gets older, I hope he begins to understand how complicated these things are. I have also pointed out that he must have had a father, but for some reason, there is no hostility towards that mystery man. There is nothing at all. All the feelings are reserved for you, his first mother. I still feel like an impostor sometimes, raising a son you didn’t willingly give to me.
I wish you could see how handsome, smart, and funny this boy is. And I wish you could see how loving he can also be. These traits were part of him from the beginning, and in my heart, I attribute them to you. I’m sorry you couldn’t be the one to see him grow up yourself.