A Letter to My Daughter’s Birth Mom


Yesterday was the one year anniversary of our daughter’s Adoption Day. It’s a special day, filled with sweetness and celebration and simultaneously deep sadness and grief. I don’t take lightly that in order for our daughter to become our daughter, she had to lose the family she was born into and first knew. As we marked this day yesterday, I couldn’t help but think about some things I wanted to say to her birth mom, who was her first mom in her life. From time to time she will get in touch with me to check in on the girl we both call daughter. I decided to share my letter to her here. It’s not likely that she will see it on this site, but you never know.

Dear Hannah, 

A letter like this is hard to write. I’m not sure where to start; it’s really rather awkward, isn’t it? I could jump right in and tell you how Iz is doing — that’s usually what I do when I send you an update via the internet. But this feels different. Yesterday marked one year since we finalized Iz’s adoption. It’s a day we want to celebrate for her, but at the same time with every bit of celebration comes a twinge of pain. You see we want her to know her story. We want her to be proud to be adopted. We want her to know how much we love her and that she is worthy of celebrating. That is why we celebrate on her Adoption Day. She’s young, you know, so as she gets older we plan to let her have a say in what she wants to do. Right now, we just try to love her really well and do the things that make her feel extra special.

But I want you to know that as we celebrate her being a part of this family, our family, I think of you.

It’s not just on adoption day that I think of you; I think of you every day. I look at her face in the morning, and I see her dad, which makes me think of you. Occasionally in a picture, I think that she looks more and more like you as she gets older. When she decides that she wants something, and she does not budge or back down and only gets more fired up about it — I think of you. She has your determination. She has your spunk. She’s not afraid of anyone, and I think that comes from you. She is a girl who makes up her mind and goes for it, and when she does that, I think of you. She is smart as can be, and I know that comes from you, too. 

She has some of your other qualities also. Some of the things that I used to be really angry with you for — like not thinking something through before you did it. She does that also. Or your temper — I used to be mad at you about all the times you were so mad at me and life in general to do what was best for her. She has your temper, and I can’t say that I always handle it great. When she’s upset she reminds me of you. Sometimes when she’s really struggling because of her early life, I still get mad at you. I get so frustrated about things that happened in the past. I am sad for Iz that her life had to start that way and that she will always have to work really hard to make up for it. But you know what? At the end of the day, it always comes back to you. And I can’t stay mad at you.

You and I have this bond that no one else has — we love the same girl. We share a daughter, and we both love her deeply. 

People often say “she’s so lucky to have you,” and I have to tell you, that couldn’t be less true. She could have ended up in so many other places. I know you wouldn’t have chosen us for her if it had been up to you, but I hope as the years have passed that you feel better about where she is. Because we feel lucky to have her. She’s changed us, and we don’t take lightly the privilege it is to get to raise your daughter. 

I want you to know that I think of you often. I hope you are doing okay. The last time we talked you said you had been down on your luck. That was hard for me to hear. I know it’s not about me, but I think of you as family and I don’t want anyone in our family to struggle like that. The last time I saw you, you were mad at me. You thought that I thought I was better than you. I hope you know that’s not true. I am acutely aware that it could have been me. I am aware of all of the advantages I had my whole life that you never had. I know you won’t want to hear this, but I also know that I sit where I sit only because of Jesus. Not because he’s made my life easy or that, because I believe in him, he gives me what I want. That’s not true at all. I’m just sitting on this side of the letter because of his grace. 

Hannah, you are family. You are loved by me. And I want you to know that every day when I hug our daughter, I think of how she belongs to you and to me. She was yours first, and I will always remember that. 




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