Today is our boy’s third birthday. I’m pretty sure you know this as well as I do—because who could have possibly forgotten the moment this glorious boy made his way into the world? I cannot begin to understand the circumstances that surrounded your choices or your life, and I’ve never felt anything but grateful to you for the gift of my boy. We are two women separated by an ocean and so many miles and entirely different cultures, but today I feel your presence here and I’m thankful.
The past couple of months I’ve had the privilege of an inside peek into the orphanage where our boy lived for 18 months—and I’ve also seen photos and heard stories about the towns and villages that surround it. Those stories paint a picture of a very humble existence—simple homes, very little resources, few jobs. Even more than before, I can imagine that your choice to give up our boy may have been borne from an act of compassion, alongside the reality that you could never give this baby the kind of life he deserved.
I’d give anything just to be able to let you know that he’s safe and well.
He laughs a lot, our beautiful boy—and giggles and plays hard and gives the most exquisite kisses. He wraps his arms around my neck a lot these days too—pressing his body into mine, seeming to say “Mama, I’m yours.” Sometimes these moments make tears well up in my eyes, as I feel deep in my heart a sense of home with this boy. We’ve had to learn to love each other—to be attached and connected like this. But we’ve done the hard work, and now we are reaping the goodness.
I catch his eye sometimes, or see an expression that’s new, and I wonder, WHO in your family does he look like? A cousin, perhaps, or an uncle? Maybe he has his mama’s eyes or his daddy’s smile. I’d also give anything for him to know of his beginnings. But all I have are a few photos of his orphanage, a handful of snapshots of a few of the other kids who were there with him (we call them his Xuwen cousins), and the story of his Gotcha Day and our ten days together in China.
But I do know what it feels like to love a baby growing in my womb—to feel a head crowning inside me, to see my newborn’s face for the first time and examine every inch of that perfect body. And although I’m pretty sure the moment of our boy’s birth might have also been filled with trauma and sadness for you, I think you swaddled that boy and held him to you for as long as you possibly could before letting him go.
We are both mamas to this beautiful boy—you gave him life and I get to help him grow. This isn’t the way things were created to work, I know—it’s messy and filled with loss and grief. But joy is here too, especially for me. I’ll never how exactly how it is for you, but I will hold you close to my heart always, and I’ll pray for you and honor you, and one day when our boy asks, I’ll tell him honestly just how much I love you and have since the moment I knew he was going to be my son.
Dearest woman, halfway around the world, we are bound by something complex and beautiful—heart wrenching and gorgeous at the same time. And today I think especially of you and the gift you have given me in Matthew.
On this day of Thanksgiving, I am especially thankful for you.
Happy Birthday to our boy—three years old today!
With the deepest respect,