Before you make that comment, wondering how somebody could ever “give her baby away” or inquire if my daughter’s birth mother was on drugs, or homeless, or even make that statement implying that my child’s birth mother didn’t love him/her, criticize her decision, judge her healing or coping, perhaps I should explain how I feel about my children’s birth mothers and entire biological families.

First, when I met them, they felt familiar. Both times. With our first child, we walked into a hospital room around 9:30 am. I saw a red, squishy ball of baby, wrapped tightly in a blue and brown fleece football blanket, resting gently on the legs of a beautiful dark blonde woman. My first thought was, “She looks familiar, almost like my aunt.” With our second child, the night we met her birth mother and aunt, it was a snowy night in January, with the typical Idaho coldness that makes your bones feel frozen. We arrived at the restaurant we’d agreed upon during a phone call earlier in the evening. We checked in with the hostess, and upon learning we’d arrived first, we sat on the benches by the door to wait for their arrival. I remember my husband asking, “How will we know them?” I shrugged and responded, “I don’t know.” Minutes later, two very, very tall, very beautiful women walked through the door and before I realized my intent, I was standing up and walking over to them. When I was nearly halfway to them, my brain caught up with my heart and my feet and I briefly wondered if was approaching two people I didn’t know. Then, they looked in our direction and smiled and my heart felt the urgent calmness that had propelled me halfway over to meet them. I knew them.

Second, we are connected. There have been about a million times when I have looked into my daughter’s birth mother’s eyes and felt a connection. That connection is not a romantic connection, like I feel with my husband, but rather one of familiarity, a sense of belonging, a sense of rightness, a sense of unity because we both insanely love our daughter, and a sense of family. After nearly three years, that connection is based on a plethora of shared experiences, shared moments, and love, as well as this fierce-mama bear desire to protect, love, and care for our daughter in every single way possible. We are her mothers. We are connected through our desire to love and focus on the best for our child.

Next, we are BOTH mothers. Please note, I said mothers. Plural. Mothers. We do not co-parent, but we both completely love our little girl as mothers. I am passionate about the places and roles my daughter’s birth mother and her entire family play in our lives, our family, and most importantly, my daughter’s life. Because the relationship with our sons’s biological mother is completely closed, our family knows what it is to wonder, long for, and miss that very important place in my son’s life. We see him missing her. We hear the sadness when we talk with him about difficult things relating to and pertaining to her. He has questions that neither I, nor my husband, will ever know or be able to answer for him; Only his birth mother could answer those questions. So, I am passionate about fighting for my daughter’s biological mother’s place in motherhood and as a mother to our child. I am not, nor will I ever be, the mother that gave my children life. I am not the mother that will say, “You get your brownn eyes and adorable cheek dimple from me.” I am not the mother that will complete my children’s sense of identity through a biological connection. I am the mother that rocked them. I am the mother that feeds them. I am the mother that teaches rules and reinforces them daily. I am the mother that kisses skinned knees, teaches them to cook, takes them to church every Sunday, and spends each and every day with them. We are both the mother that loves our children. We are the mothers that want our child to grow to be kind, loving, strong, and confident humans. We are the mothers that individually have our own unique, special roles and places in our children’s lives. I couldn’t bring the child into this world, but she could. She couldn’t raise the child each day, but I can. Without her, a piece of our lives would be missing. Desha Wood stated, “He is mine in a way that will never be hers, yet he is hers in a way that will never mine, and so, together, we are motherhood.”

My love for each of my children’s individual birth mothers is beyond definition. To my knowledge, there is no word yet created, in any language, that describes the intimate bond that is created when one woman places a piece of herself into another woman’s arms to raise, protect, and love. I’ve heard some compare that relationship as one of “sisters,” or “maternal,” or “best friends.” But, how I feel? I love my daughter’s birth mother so completely that she is part of my heart, embodied in every cardiac cell, wound so tightly around my heart that I cannot think of one thing that she could do that would make me love her less. This is called pure, untainted, and unconditional love. Unconditional love isn’t based on her making good, healthy decisions. It isn’t based on her location, her treatment of me, her occupation status, her pain, or her joy. I love her when she’s struggling. I love her when she’s at peace and happy. My heart hurts when she hurts. My heart celebrates her great triumphs. My heart needs to hear her voice when it has been a while, just to know she’s okay. My heart delights as I watch her with her daughter and when I see things they share and have in common with each other. My heart over flows as I watch her include my son, who is not her biological child.

So, when you have questions and wonder what it is like to love a birth mother, please remember this: She is more than my sister, best friend, or family; She is the only other person on the planet that is my daughter’s mother, my son’s mother. What a wonderful honor it to share the title of “mother,” and our unique roles and purposes, with them. We are their mothers. So, please, don’t make an assumptive comment about someone who means so much to me, my children and my family.