The day I left the hospital, it was the hardest thing I had ever done. I had a pit in stomach but knew that my choice was in the best interest of the baby.
Her father and I went to Lutheran Social Services (LSS) to look through stacks and stacks of paperwork of people waiting to adopt a child. We finally decided on a family. For the next 25 years, all I would know or see about this little girl was a photo at six months and a letter at one year.
Birthdays and holidays would go by and I often thought of her. My mother and I would write to her, buy her things and keep them in our own special ways – hoping that one day I could share all of this with her. I started a chest with all her father’s and my memories. I included anything she might want to know, in case something happened to me before we connected, so she would have some idea of what her background was and where she came from. I wanted her to know her father and I had been in a long-term relationship, even after her birth, and went to meetings at LSS together and cried to each other. Even as our relationship was ending, we held each other accountable to always share our story with everyone so this baby girl was never a secret.
I carried an empty space in my heart over the years, but until I actually held the letter [from my daughter, via LSS] in my hand, I didn’t realize what I had been missing my whole adult life.
It had been a busy day – my husband and children were waiting on me to go somewhere after work. I stopped to glance at the mail, and there it was, a letter addressed to me with an LSS return label. My whole world stopped and my heart raced. I could not open it fast enough – it was the piece of mail I had been waiting on my whole life.
The letter was very simple. It said that Erin had been looking for her birthmother, and after reviewing everything in my file, they thought I was her and asked if I was interested in contact. It was the most amazing feeling – I cannot even put words to it.
Over the next few days, my husband helped me get some things in order to be able to connect. The week of Christmas 2013, I received an actual letter from Erin, in her handwriting, with an overview of the last 25 years. With my husband and children by my side, I cried like a baby. God had finally answered my prayers! Erin had an amazing life with wonderful parents – she was safe and happy. What followed next were pictures and text messages with discussions of meeting for the first time.
My husband and I made arrangements to have dinner with her. When I saw Erin walking across the parking lot, my heart sank. Was I dressed okay? Would she like me? What would she think about me?
I always hoped Erin would look for me and that we would have this relationship. My girls and Erin are close now – they share clothes, shoes, make-up and do all the things sisters do. We see her as often as we can.
I know this has not been easy for Erin’s adoptive parents, but I have been able to tell them just how grateful I am to them for all they have done for Erin. This is something Erin wanted to do and they stood by her. It has been a true blessing.