“Letters are above all useful as a means of expressing the ideal self; and no other method of communication is quite so good for this purpose.Â In letters we can reform without practice, beg without humiliation, snip and shape embarrassing experiences to the measure of our own desires… ” ~Elizabeth Hardwick
I dislike the idea of Dear Birthmother letters. Putting aside the fact the verbiage is all wrong (Shouldnt it be Dear Expectant Mother Letters? Calling a woman a birthmom before she has surrendered is a tad bit coercive in my opinion), I dislike advertising for babies, trolling for children, marketing of babies available for adoption, prospective adoptive parents painting themselves as so fabu but so terribly sad they cannot have children, babies for sale on ebay, adoptive parents so happy to take the child of another, etc. It just feels very icky to me.
What I do want to question is the idea of “Dear Adoptive Parent Letters”.
Do they exist?
I am going to guess they do. I dont know.
In my era (mid 80s) adoption wasn’t so commercialized and contact between expectant mothers and prospective adopters was non-existent. I base my assumptions on my own experience. I lived in a home with many expectant moms. I dont recall anyone writing Dear Adoptive Parent letters or having any contact in advance. I received nothing from my daughters adoptive parents prior to abandoning her. I got one silly card six months later that I am not confident was even written by them. (The card said “Babies were blown from the hand of God”. You can imagine how well THAT went over with me.Â Can we dehumanize me any more?Â Now God birthed my baby via his hand? Maybe his vagina, but I am not so sure about the hand part)
I find myself wondering if expectant mothers were encouraged to write letters, what would they write?
I am thinking of what I would have written (I realize its my 40 year old self looking back with the knowledge so my guess on what I would have written may be slightly skewed).
Would I have been honest and told them the following:
Dear Adoptive Parent:
My name is Suz. I am 17 yo and living in a maternity home. I love my boyfriend and want very much to be with him. I miss him. My parents are embarassed by my pregancy and sent me here to have my baby alone. I havent spoken to my boyfriend or my parents in some time. I am very lonely. My baby kicks every day and I love her. She has hiccups and they told me that means she is ingesting fluid. I also have lots of heartburn and the nurse told me that means she will have hair. I am going to name her Amber. Amber, the stone, represents ever lasting love and eternal bond. I like that. Even if I cannot raise her, I will forever love her. I want to keep her but the agency tells me I cannot. My mother signed a document that the agency said can be used to sue me if I dont give them my baby. I told Colleen, my caseworker, I was thinking about keeping her and she told me I would be sued and my parents would be too. My parents dont have alot of money. I have already caused them enough trouble. I dont have a lawyer. I dont know what to do so I guess I will give my baby to you. I hope you love her as much as I do.
Or would I have given the party line? I was pretty good at pretending back then. Pretending I was okay, fine, cool, managing, mature and really, super, OK. My writings from that period of time are very split and clearly show a young, lost girl, wanting someone to help her keep her baby and a shamed, embarrased girl worried that she has caused all the evil in the world and she must save her child from her own mother and make things okay with her family. She cannot have her family be sued.
If you are a mother who surrendered her chid to adoption, what would you have written? Post your letter here if you are comfortable.