Bittersweet Birthdays

You excitedly lean over your birthday cake, your face alight with the glow of four small birthday candles.

You were prayed for and wanted more than you can ever imagine. Years of waiting and wanting to be parents, culminates today…your first birthday home with us. The first of so many of these celebrations.

While other moms I know complain about all the minutiae of organizing kids birthday parties, I am beyond thrilled. I threw myself into the world of party favors and character-based party themes with the vigor of a competitive athlete. It makes me sad to imagine that you may never have had a birthday celebration. I am determined to start compensating with this party.

So you blow out your candles and with a toothy grin, you look around at all those gathered around you. People you didn’t even know six months ago, who now love you beyond measure and will be so foundational in your life. And while I am so grateful to see how much you’re loved, I am also feeling a little bittersweet.

Someone who loves you more than almost anyone isn’t here – your birth mother.

I don’t know her story or yours before you came to us. I don’t know the circumstances in which you were born or surrendered. But I feel certain that she loves you. How could she not? She carried you for nine months, birthed you, took care of you for some part of your infancy. And at some point, she decided that adoption was the best option. I’ll likely never know what led to that decision and if I’m honest, I’m not sure I want to know. For my greatest joy is likely to be her greatest sorrow.

But my heart feels a bit heavy on this most joyous of days. She is likely out there somewhere, thinking of you and about the day she gave birth to you and maybe worrying.

I feel a deep bond and immeasurable gratitude for this unknown woman. I try to telepathically tell her that you are well, that you are loved, that we will take care of you. I wish I could be sure that she knows that.

So on this very special day my dear child, I hug you doubly hard – for both your mothers.

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