Hey, kids.

It’s me, Mom. I sit down sometimes to write you letters because a feeling washes over me that I can’t ignore and I realize that there are truths you’re going to need to know as you get older.

You should know, first of all, that the teenage years are rough for everyone, even the most privileged of us. It is a time when feelings can hit you like a tidal wave, suck you into the undertow, and push you far away from your loved ones. I have no doubt you both have the spirit to survive these years, but I don’t expect complete grace or composure. I don’t expect you to have all of your feelings in check, to never wonder what life might have been like without your adoption, or to feel complete peace over the decisions that were made on your behalf.

I am writing to you because I need you to know it’s okay to have these feelings. You can come to me with them and let me carry some of the weight for you. I want you to feel free to tell me you’re sad or you wish things could have been different. I want you to realize that my heart will not break into a million pieces if your allegiance isn’t solely with your dad and me, because it’s not true: You belong with your birth family, too.  We all love you and we all claim you as ours. Our love isn’t ever going anywhere and you never have to feel grateful that adoption was chosen for you.

Today wasn’t my best parenting day. I have a lot on my mind and our house is a little more chaotic than usual. I admit I don’t do so well under pressure and can sometimes come off as a frazzled mess when things get disorderly and out of my control. I raised my voice with both of you today, found my temper shorter than it usually is, and hurried through our afternoon routines. There are days like this, days when I forget to soak up every second, that I realize I’ve taken all of this for granted.

But I try to relish even the craziest days because I prayed so hard for this. You weren’t there those years before you were born, when your dad held my hand through doctor appointment after doctor appointment, through surgeries and hospital stays. You weren’t there when the doctor said we would never be parents.

Wonderfully, the doctor was wrong: We would never have biological children, but we would become parents. Parents to children who would surpass any dream we’d ever had for who our children might be. With these children came extended family members—their birth families—who have been woven in with the fabric of our family in a way I feel truly grateful for.  Knowing your birth family has meant I’ve gotten to know you better, and I’ll be forever grateful for each one of them for allowing me to know you at a deeper level.

Kids, you were prayed for with every ounce of strength and humility I could muster, and although I felt totally out of control of what would happen in our lives, I asked to be your mom.  I prayed specifically for both of you, and my prayers were answered. I am grateful all the time, even on these days when I’m not at my best, though sometimes I forget to soak in every second and allow gratitude to be at the forefront of what I do. I get tangled in the frustrations, the chaos, or the bickering between you two and I have to close my eyes and remind myself that there was once a time where I literally sat in an empty nursery and dreamed of the day when I’d hear the hustle and bustle of kids running around, dogs nipping at their heels, and the fighting and laughter of siblings. I remind myself to never take this for granted because it’s everything I’ve ever wanted.

I was talking to your Mimi the other day and she asked if I’d ever gone back and read the journal she kept when she was pregnant with me. I remember skimming it over when she gave it to me in my 20s, reading quickly over milestones and looking briefly at cards relatives sent when I was born, but I quickly shelved that journal and I don’t believe I’ve looked at it since.  As I was trying to fall asleep that night, I tried to figure out if I was ungrateful or simply fortunate that I hadn’t found the need to pour over the books she had put so much time and raw emotion into. Here was my realization: I take her love for granted. I take it for granted because it has been given to me, with the volume turned all the way up, since before I was born. Her love is natural, a gift I deserve simply because she is my mom. That is the privilege every child should be born with.

You may not realize this, but you have received the same. I don’t expect you to pour over every sentimental item I’ve saved from your birth family or us because I want you to feel entitled to our love. I want you to feel the love that surrounds you at full volume. I hope you don’t feel like you have to pour over the keepsake boxes I’ve kept for you, or the letters we’ve written to you. I hope our love is buried so deep in your core that you are able to simply take our love for granted and conquer the world because of it.

I know there will come a time when you’re parents yourselves and you will have an epiphany.  You’ll be holding your child as you understand how deep and unconditional our love really is, because that’s the reality that comes along with being a parent and loving a child. Each one of your parents—birth and adoptive—is grateful to belong to you. We don’t take our responsibility or privilege for granted because we all wanted you and we all prayed for you. When nothing else in your life feels certain, you can fall back on our love. You didn’t ask for any of this, but it’s here and always will be, unconditionally for the taking.

With all my love,