Letters as Gifts

Dug this out of The Box this a.m.  It seemed appropriate to include in a chapter I am writing in my book. I scanned this blog quickly and see I have never put it here.  It seems so trite reading it now yet I remember putting so much effort, spending so much time thinking about what I would write.  This is it?  You are granted the opportunity to give a letter to the daughter you are going to leave with strangers and this is the crap you came up with, I ask my 18 year old self?

It strikes me now now as a bit cold, guarded and overly mature. Realizing I was rather precocious since Kindergarten the maturity doesn’t really strike me as much as the lack of emotion.  I still smile at my forethought to copy it verbatim for myself. I remember thinking it would be a tool to make a match when I found her.

I have no idea if the agency ever gave this to my daughters adoptive parents. If they did, I have no idea if they ever gave it to her. Based on what she told me about her adoptive parents and the things that have transpired in our reunion I am going to guess they did not.

Here, read it,  and feel free to say to yourself (or me, gently, in a comment) “Really?”

Letter to my Daughter dated May 19, 1986 (the day I surrendered her to Easter House):

My darling daughter –

Your life is all I have to give you. Treat it well. Nourish it. Replenish it and love it.  For love is what enabled me to give you this life.

If I could give you something of myself, I’d give you my strength to carry on. To endure, to go forth. Though the winds of life may bend you, you must always push on.  You must always pray that tomorrow will be better than today.

It is this strength, my daughter, that enables me to let go of your beautiful face and to carry on.  Though my heart is torn and tattered, it is my heart, my inner soul, and if I give you nothing, I give you my love.

Happy trails my darling Amber.

– Susan Bednarz, May 19, 1986

The second sentence in the second to last paragraph doesn’t even make sense.  Note how I call her my daughter but I sign it my full name, not your mother, or anything like that? Love enabled me to give you life?  Actually it was her father’s sperm.  I remember fearing the agency would read this letter as well as the adoptive parents (at least one party probably did) and I was so worried about what I couldn’t say.  I suspect even in surrendering I was trying to look all smarty and capable.

Sad, really.

14 Thoughts.

  1. Suz, obviously I am bit biased being your husband, however, I think you’re WAY WAY WAY too hard on yourself. Needless to say you were in a very conflicted/emotional state of mind to say the least.
    I found myself tearing up reading it to be quite honest.
    Even as a 18 yr. old your writing comes across as someone with much more maturity and years on this planet.

  2. I’m with Rich, here, Suz. You are very, very hard on yourself and at the time were working to cope with the gravity of the situation at hand very much alone and still a child yourself. It sounds like you’re trying to justify your decision to give up your daughter to your conflicted brain screaming that you really want to keep her, but believing it was for the best because that’s what you were told.

    You sound as though you want to respect her adoptive parent’s role as mother and father, but leaving your full name so that you could have a reunion someday. I’m not sure that anyone in the same situation would do things differently. I think that your letter is beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

  3. OMG – that letter does not sound like you at all. It sounds like it was written by a 45 yr old person and boy did we all swallow the Kool Aid or what. I found your comment about using it for reunion interesting. Any one who scratched below the surface (or who did not have a conflict of interest) would have known we did not want to give our kids up and all knew we would find them as soon as we could. We were all so shut down and dying inside and no one wanted to risk opening us up.

    I hope what I am about to say doesn’t upset you. I hope your daughter didn’t read that letter. I don’t think it was your finest hour. If she did read it, I hope she could read between the lines.

    • Ha. I would say it wasn’t my finest year! From the moment I became pregnant with her to the day she was born all I did was blunder and cave and pretend and deny and do stupid shit even when my internal organs told me otherwise. Intimidation and coercion are powerful weapons in the war against single mothers.

  4. Suz, I ditto that you are way too hard on yourself. We all did, said, wrote stuff at 18 that makes us squirm when we look back. You don’t have to critique everything you plan on putting in your book. Just get it writ! 🙂

    • Oh, not really critiquing everything. More like marveling over it. Just so shocking, so sad, etc. Oh, is that critiquing? Perhaps.

  5. This makes me want to hug your 18 year old self. It’s trying so hard to be profound and gracious and poetic and loving and a zillion other things in a few short paragraphs. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  6. Oh, that’s 18 year old “literary emo” writing all right. Laden with cliché, just like mine was, and I was quite convinced it was mature, poetic stuff back in the day. I know when I look back at some of the stuff that came out of my pen, I cringe at times. But remember, you were doing your best to convey how you felt amidst the background noise of “you’re brave and noble for making this choice…blah blah blah.” And you’re looking back at it with the eyes and life experience of the present you, evaluating it from that lens – not from the lens you carried at that time.

    • Hahaha. Literary EMO. I love it. That sums me and my life up perfectly! Thank you for helping me own this wretched piece of pain. Agreed on rest of your comment as well.

  7. I agree with your husband, you are too hard on yourself. I can’t imagine if I had had the opportunity to even write a note that I would have been able. At that point I was convinced I wasn’t worthy of anything. I have a hard time just looking at my signature on his birth certificate and find it difficult to remember myself at that age.
    I love your writing, and this blog has been a godsend.

    • Thank you Joanne for your kind words. I am glad my blog is helpful. I pasted this poem to my Facebook today and your comment reminded me of it yet again. It strikes me personally as it explains why I do the things I do. If I can help ONE person feel less pain, ONE mother reconsider adoption surrender, ONE mother to feed or diaper her child for ONE more day, my life is not lived in vain.

      If I can stop one heart from breaking,

      If I can stop one heart from breaking,
      I shall not live in vain;
      If I can ease one life the aching,
      Or cool one pain,
      Or help one fainting robin
      Unto his nest again,
      I shall not live in vain.

      – Emily Dickinson

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