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Dear Carly,

I assume that one day you will come to me wanting to know who you are, where you came from, where your other family is and why they gave you to us.  I offer you little bits of information already, but certainly not crumbs enough to satisfy the appetite.  Perhaps it won't matter to you.  I am assuming a lot, already, about how adoption will impact your life.

People often wonder why adoptive parents are hurt when their children seek out biological roots.  I have the answer, and it's very simple.  Adoption - at its core - makes us question the legality, authority, voracity, and validity of parenthood.  For most adoptive parents, first you must come to terms with an issue that strikes at the foundations of mortality: fertility.  From birth, most of us are driven to form families.  First we are nestlings, nurtured and weened and eventually taught to fly.  Then we are nest-builders, filling our lives with the stuff necessary to drive life forward.  Knowledge, safety, money, a sturdy home - all fluff for the nest.  Then we fill the nest, in various ways.  In our prime we are driven (and built) to procreate.  We are healthy, vibrant, hormonal beings. 

There is no lesson manual for the empty nest. 

I recognize that our experience as a family is somewhat unique.  Our first child, your brother, is biological.  The birds and the bees knew just want to do.  But then came waiting.

And waiting.

And an empty hole that just wouldn't fill.

I had to learn to accept that the natural order of things was different for us.  And this was not an easy lesson.  I had to learn that being a woman isn't only about having babies in my womb.  It is much more, and sometimes much less.  My identity was not tied to my loins.  This was a tearful, painful, still-ongoing lesson.

Turning to adoption means turning over control, means opening yourself up to examination, means explaining your flaws, means surrendering to the unknown.  Once you have given up the last vestiges of hope, once you are laid low with grief - only then can you be open to the spiraling joy of adoption.

There is a magical moment that comes with adoption, unique to the experience, and it comes in court.  In our family, we call it Gotcha Day - the day the paperwork finally reflects ownership.  Not ownership of you, but rather your ownership of your name, of your birthday, of your parents, of your future.

The afterward of your adoption story is what brings us here today, to this letter.  You see, I've never made it a practice to carry around your birth certificate or order of adoption because (in my mind) it's just not necessary.  I have never been asked to prove your brother is mine.  I have never been forced to provide documentation that I am his mother.

You, on the other hand...

Three times I have been asked to stake my claim since Gotcha Day:

First, when I wanted to get your ears pierced.  They wanted papers before they would put a post through your ear.  And I was furious.  I know without doubt that if your Godmother,

Michelle, had brought you that day, they would not have asked for any proof.

Second, when I needed a social security card.  No ordinary birth certificate with my name and yours would do.  I needed court documents signing you over to me.  While this was reasonable, I was still angry.

And third, today, the Dr's office wanted proof that you belong to me.  And it stings.

What must I do to prove you are mine?  A little slip of paper means more than the boogers on my shirt, than the sleepless nights, than the diapers and laundry and dirty rooms I've cleaned.  That creased, blue and white paper has more worth than the stories, pretending, playing, reading we've done.  More worth than the hours of worry, the moments of joy, the quiet seconds when you head rests near my heart.

It means more to the Dr's office, anyway.

So, someday, when you come to me searching for your blood roots, I'll help you find them.  I'll dig up the painful past, I'll hold your hand while you confront the goods and bads, I'll walk down that road if you ask me to.

But it will hurt.

Because you belong to me

no matter what those papers say.




Pam said…
I got teary eyed reading this. When we go out Lucy often says, and I'm not sure why, "Are we going to Carly's house?" Maybe one of these days when I am feeling crazy adventurous I will drive the drive!
Sarah said…
Oh I hope so! So very much!
llegue said…
Heather said…
I think all your writing is pretty much brilliant- but your thought about adoption and specifically Carly always make me feel warm and fuzzy.
taturner said…
I love this post!
Anonymous said…
An alternate way to look at it:
1- There are a lot of people looking out for Carly's best interests in a way that you simply take for granted with Joshy-boy.
2- The the bogies and hugs demonstrate demonstrate she is yours, she also can clearly tell people you are THE mommy too.
3- The world knows and agrees that Miss Carly is all, totally, and unquestionably yours (and as you say more appropriately: you are hers) BECAUSE of the papers, not despite the papers.
*MARY* said…
What a beautiful post, thank you for sharing.
You have a lovely daughter.
Marcia said…
So moving, Sarah! Thanks for sharing!
Harmony said…
oh, Sarah, thanks for posting this! It made me cry and I already feel the same way about our sweet Megan. The way you wrote it is so perfect, and shows all the love and emotion in the world. I'm tempted to copy it and change the name to Megan, but I'll write one another day for her :) Thanks again.

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