(Stick with me here-it's a long one.)
It is not unlike me to write a letter. I love receiving "snail" mail, I love stamps and stationery and pens. How the pen feels on the paper is very important to me, and I have been known to throw out a beautiful note card on which I have started writing to a friend simply because it doesn't feel right.
Before the advent of email, I had written many a letter informing people of momentous events in my life: the arrivals of my daughters, the death of my father, my own job changes, moves, and changes of outlooks, opinions, or feelings.
Since June of 1995, when my second precious child came into my life, I have dreamed for her of letters exchanged with her birth family. Her first family. The circumstances around her adoption are details that are hers only to share, but they are very different from those of Older Daughter, whom I was able to bring home in infancy. Younger Daughter was three when I got her. A whole different world.
The missing puzzle piece in her life has been monumental. "Who do I look like?" "Why did this happen?" "Am I somehow to blame?" "How different would my life have been?" These questions have colored her view of her reality.
Three weeks ago or so, Younger Daughter and her long-time boyfriend, whom we love, respect, and thank for his kindness to YD, came home to visit on a Sunday afternoon. They're expecting a baby. The Attorney and I were not terribly surprised, and I must say we took it with amazing grace. YD said she had known for a couple of weeks, but was afraid to tell us, because she was afraid we would be angry or disappointed. While the timing is less than ideal, we were neither. We went through the practicalities of it: what about college (she's a sophomore), housing (he shares an apartment with his sister), and money (they don't really have any)? When we got done with those obligatory issues, we moved straight into how exciting it would be to be grandparents, what we wanted to be called (me-Grammy, The Attorney-Grandma) and what we could do to help. We are eschewing any negativity and celebrating a new life with the bundle that will arrive in early March, we think.
How does this relate to letter writing? The very week that we heard about the baby, I found, after years of searching, a possible clue as to the whereabouts of YD's birth mom. I sat down and carefully crafted a very short letter to her. It included no identifying information, to eliminate the possibility of a misstep in making the connection with the right person.
I am writing to you to let you know that in 1995 I adopted a child through _________. If you are the birth mother of a child who was adopted then, or if you have contact with her, and you are interested in having information about the child, please send me a letter with any information that will help me make sure you are the right person. If you are unrelated to this child, or you do not wish to have contact, please disregard this and accept my apologies for any intrusion."
Yesterday, I received this in the mail:
"Dear Yankee Transferred,
I received your letter on 9/9/2011. My name is ____________ and I live in ___________. I am the mother of Younger Daughter. I gave birth to her in _______hospital. I have her birth certificate which I have kept in my safe for 19 years. The reason you ended up with her is because I couldn't take care of her due to ____________. God has been very good to me, He pulled me out of that situation and has stayed with me so that I could experience this very day. Please tell her she can contact me at any time. I have prayed for this day for 19 years. Thank you for contacting me.
Thank you again,
We asked Younger Daughter and Jazz Man to come over last night. When they got there, we told them that we have tried her whole life to give her everything she needed and wanted, and we always knew that there was one thing that we had been unable to give her. We handed her the letter.
...to be continued...