She was 19 years old. Her whole life ahead of her. She was dating the love of her life. She met him at a Christmas party and says she couldn’t resist when he asked her out. They spent every moment together and became very close in a very short amount of time. Everywhere they went they were the center of attention. They were planning to move across the country and settle in Boston, where she would pursue dance and art and he would work at his dream job.
They were so in love.
And one day, her stomach churned when she realized she hadn’t started on time. She took a test and it was positive. Not wasting any time, she told her love. She wanted to keep the baby.
And (as many cowardly men do) he disappeared. He was everything I wanted in a man except responsible.
I can’t pretend to understand what she must have felt. So utterly and completely alone. So betrayed by the one person she expected to embrace her. So completely responsible for something she only was supposed to share responsibility in. She didn’t ask for this. I’m sure it all felt so unfair. He could run away and pretend it never happened, but she would be left here, her stomach swelling with every passing day, nauseous and exhausted, heavy. Heavy with child, heavy with this burden.
What a burden.
And this is the point in the story where many women decide it’s not worth it. And I get that. It doesn’t feel right to be left with that. It doesn’t seem fair that he gets to have pleasure without consequence. And many women would drive to an abortion clinic, think of their decision as best for everyone and bury their pain.
But not her. She chose to be a brave woman. She didn’t have money or the support of a partner. She didn’t have time or energy. She could have gotten rid of me easily and quickly. But she drove herself to a crisis pregnancy center and lived in a convent among motherly women for nine months. As her belly grew, as her baby moved and kicked inside of her, she decided to put my little helpless life up for adoption. She grew up with a mother and father and felt I deserved the same.
I want you to have the best life can offer. I could not devote as much time and energy to raising you as you would need, also you would not have a father there for you anytime you need him. When I looked at you again you are so beautiful, I know in my heart you deserve the best and if I can give it to you, even if it means I can not be with you, I will.
Can you imagine? Your whole body changes to accommodate this tiny life inside of you. Nobody can ever know your baby as you when you’re pregnant. And to make the decision to give that baby to a better home? So, so brave.
The family she had chosen for me decided at the last minute to back out. So one night, just before I was born, she stayed up all night rifling through files to find the perfect match for the baby taking space in her womb. Nothing. Not one family could she find that seemed to click. So her lawyer pulled out an application that had just come in. She had received that file so recently, it wasn’t even in the pile. And as my birthmother read and looked at pictures, she knew. They would be my forever parents. The family that was a perfect fit to raise the life being knit together inside of her.
On a crisp fall night, I was born. She held me as I cried all night with colic. How hard that must have been. To not even have an “easy” baby but to give so much love to someone made up of half of the person who broke your life apart. And then to let go of the only thing you had to need you and love you forever? What a strong woman.
I really don’t know how to put this into words. I’ll start with I love and I miss you. I wish I could watch you grow and learn and laugh and cry. I looked at you and I thought how easy it would be just to hang on to you, my family would have supported me in any decision I made.
Please try to understand that I’m doing the only right thing by you and if I didn’t love you so much I couldn’t let you go.
Every day I wonder how you are doing. I know you are much happier where you are than you could be with me. I love you so much. The easiest thing in the world would have been to take you home. But if I did I would be cheating you out of a real chance at a normal life and normal for you would have been abnormal.
Her name for me was Victoria. As in victory.
All this to say, thank you. Thank you, birth mother for doing the hard things. For putting aside your dreams for a time to live in a home full of women. For giving up your body for stretch marks and leaky breasts that would remind you of me. For being brave when it would have been so easy to get rid of me in less than an hour and move on with your life. For your love that is so unselfish, hopeful, protecting, trusting, and persevering.
*Italicized words are quotes from a letter she wrote and sent to my family soon after my birth.