November is National Adoption Awareness Month. This recognition of adoption is especially important to me because my children were brought to me through adoption.

There are two women who made it possible for me to become a mother. These women are my children’s respective birthmothers. There is not one day that goes by that I don’t think of and thank these two women.    

Due to infertility, my family was created through adoption. Countless times, I’ve been told I ‘saved’ my children from what, I’m assuming, is thought to be a less fortunate life. True, my children were born to women who emotionally and financially couldn’t care for a child. But I consider myself the one who was saved by my children’s birthmothers.

After learning about my infertility, receiving multiple failed fertility treatments, and enduring multiple failed adoptions, I hit one of the lowest points in my life. I was depressed, in therapy, and considering taking anti-depressants. After more than three years of trying to start a family, I never thought I’d be a mom.

In April 2013, my daughter’s birthmother gave me life again by entrusting me and my husband with the role of her daughter’s forever family. My husband and I received this gift again in May 2015, when my son’s birthmother had the same faith, and we became ‘mom and dad’ for the second time around. 

These women chose my husband and me by reading a brochure about us and meeting us just once. How they knew we would be the parents they wanted for their children, after knowing us for such a short amount of time, baffles me. I thank them for having this instinct.

When I met each of my children right after they were born, I cried tears of joy. I also cried tears of guilt and sadness for my children’s respective birthmothers. These women let go a part of themselves, all out of the act of love.

Each of my child’s adoptions is closed. In other words, their birthmothers have chosen not to have contact with them. This fact saddens me, but I understand they need to move forward with their lives. Thinking about their children could prohibit them from doing so.

Daily, I wonder how my children’s birthmothers are doing. I wonder how they spend their days. I wonder how often they think about the children they carried. I want to tell them how wonderfully our babies are growing, their likes and dislikes, and their emerging personalities. 

Will we ever see these women again? I don’t know. Do my children know about their respective birthmothers? Absolutely. They need to know they are loved, not only by my husband and me, but also by the women who carried them, gave birth to them, and loved them enough to make the decision to give them a life they couldn’t have had otherwise.

My husband and I speak freely to our children about adoption. Despite being only one and three years old, we talk about how they’ve been adopted and how much they are loved by their birthmothers. We show them pictures of their birthmothers and tell their adoption stories.

My last encounter with each of my children’s birthmothers involved hugs, tears, and a whispered ‘thank you.’ I didn’t know what else to say. Words cannot express my gratitude for giving me the gift of motherhood.

The following quote, by Desha Woodall, summarizes the relationship between a birthmother and an adoptive mother:

“He is mine in a way that he will never be hers. Yet he is hers in a way that will never be mine. And so together, we are motherhood.”