“Dear Adoptive Mom,
Deflecting questions, preserving bad memories, and telling me my mother didn’t want me, does not make me love you more for ‘saving me’ from a hard life. It makes me feel broken and discarded.
Dear Adoptive Mom,
I know it’s hard to let your guard down. Society has taught you to fear my presence. But the truth is, I’m scared too.
Raquel (birth mom)
Dear Adoptive Mom,
This is hard. Really hard.
Raquel (adoptive mom)
Dear Adoptive Mom,
‘There isn’t a person you wouldn’t love if you could read their whole story.’
– Marjorie Hinckley
Have you ever had that moment, when something became so clear you were both scared and in awe? That is the presence of God. It’s the same feeling you get when you stand on the edge of a 100-foot waterfall, on the shore of a raging sea, in the depths of a cave… all of these God breathed places. That same God conspired to put you exactly where you are too.
The moment I saw how intricately and fully adoption had been woven throughout my life, I knew it was not for me to quietly acknowledge and move on. It was another story I had been entrusted with, another community I have been called to advocate for. My name is Raquel and I am an adoptee, a birth mom, and an adoptive mom.
My own adoption isn’t official. I was raised by my grandparents; they gained custody but never finalized the adoption. For all of their love and support, they certainly didn’t know how to address the issue of my absent biological mother in a healthy way.
Though my grandfather was a man of few words, my grandmother made up for his lack of. I grew up hearing things like, ‘She didn’t want you, but we did,’ more often than necessary. I’ve still never asked why she felt the need to belittle my biological mother in order to lift herself up. I would have loved my grandma the same without the constant reminder of how unwanted I was.
As an adult, I’ve met my birth mom’s other children, my half siblings. She truly didn’t want to mother any of us. It seems a hard life of addiction left only a shell of who she might have been. She lives in my hometown, and if she ever stood beside me in Kroger, I wouldn’t have known it was her. I think I’m okay with that.
Fast forward. I was 14 years old when I discovered I was pregnant. Most of the months to follow were a blur. Although I don’t remember every specific detail, I definitely remember every emotion: fear, anger, sadness, hopelessness, failure, fatigue… the list goes on. As with many unplanned pregnancies, I had guardians who didn’t exactly know how to support me in a healthy way. My own emotions were solidified by silence, hurtful comments, insensitivity, and anger.
By the grace of God, I chose an amazing woman to be the mother of the child I birthed. And yet, I no longer knew how to approach her. My own insecurities, coupled with the ones piled on me from others, led me to believe I was no longer a valued part of their relationship. I had fulfilled my role and now it was time to step back.
As the years passed and depression took deeper roots, I found myself looking online for information that might give me hope. What I found was the opposite. I found women still hurting. Women who had aged and never met the child they longed to know. I met women still struggling through loss and grief.
My birth daughter’s mom was and is absolutely amazing. She had no idea how I felt because I never communicated these emotions. I felt it was my own burden to bear. Still, she faithfully sent letters and photos every year. And behind the scenes (for me at least), she was making sure our girl knew the reason behind my decision was one of love. She was paving the way for a healthy relationship to evolve.
Nine years after placing my daughter and eight years after seeing her for the last time, the adoption agency called me with news that would change the rest of my life. My birth daughter’s family had contacted them to see if I would be willing to meet. My first born wanted to know me. I was in absolute shock. I was under the impression I legally couldn’t see her until she turned eighteen. This phone call rocked my world.
I walked into that first visit equally as scared as I was excited. I wanted to hug her and kiss her, and tell her how I thought of her every day and prayed for her every night. I wanted to hold her and not let go until our visit was over. But I was afraid to do any of that. I knew she knew of me, but she didn’t know me like I knew her. So, I waited. Once the shock subsided, her mama encouraged her to hug me, and she did.
That was seven years ago, as my beautiful girl is nearly 16 now. Our relationship has continued to grow more comfortable over the years. She is actually spending the night with us tonight! Her parents have truly been incredible. They have not only loved her well, but they have loved me well.
Throughout these past seven years, I have always wanted to honor both my birth daughter and her parents. But based on everything I read, I didn’t know how to be enough without being too little or too much. The truth is, every relationship is different. An open adoption is no exception. The relationship we have may be more or less than what another family is able to accommodate. Her parents had to take time to know me and my heart before entrusting me with their blessing, and I am so incredibly grateful they did.
More than seven years ago now, we were unsuccessfully trying to grow our family. We were not pursuing adoption, but feel like adoption pursued us. Our youngest blessing came to us around 3 weeks old and needed a safe home. We didn’t stop to count the cost or the emotional toll this journey would have on us. She is now 7, full of life, and has an untamable spirit. We have the privilege of personally knowing her biological parents, which has made many of her behavioral issues clearer. We know medical history, lifelong addictions, and personality traits. We know so much because she and I share the same late father.
Despite any past hurt from him or her birth mother, I KNOW how imperative it is to let our daughter know her parents chose life. They chose us to give her what they couldn’t. They loved her the best way they knew how. This relationship was born from loss, and if those emotions arise, it is our job to acknowledge their validity.
From experience, I know how important it is we keep a line of communication open. And when she isn’t direct, we take it upon ourselves to open up the conversation: ‘Do you have a question about your birth mom?’ ‘Do you miss your birth dad?’ (she still remembers him). It is not my place to misplace our strained relationship on her. It is our job to honor her by respecting the people who created her. She is not a mistake, a burden, unwanted, or unloved. She is our daughter and we will respect all who conspired to bring her to be.
I could look back on my past and dwell in the dark moments. But I have chosen to see the light, find peace, and live life joyfully, acknowledging God’s hand in it all. I am exactly where I’m meant to be.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Raquel McCloud, 31, of North Carolina. Follow her family journey on Instagram here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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