I was adopted at birth. I have been working with various members of the adoption triad for years through online communities. Birth mothers have been some of the most selfless, altruistic people I have ever known. They can be the strongest, most kind-hearted people. Often, a birth mother has many questions about the child they placed. I reunited with my birth family two years ago. While there currently aren’t words to accurately cover all of the emotions I feel about my birth mother, here are five things I wish she knew:

I have loved you since before I knew you. When you carried me inside of you, a bond was formed. It’s a connection that I never knew existed until I met you. I have no memory of you from when I was a baby. Even still, my heart recognized you. Our reunion was not the stuff of TV drama. There weren’t flowing tears while the whole world watched. There was a humble embrace, and at that moment I knew I’d found a home I didn’t know I needed.

I cannot thank you enough for the sacrifice you made for me.  I always had a deep appreciation for your actions, but that was catapulted to a whole new level after I gave birth to my sons. I’ve watched videos of the journeys birth moms have chosen, and I have wept for them, wept for you. I absolutely do not know where you found the strength to say goodbye. Even if someone could guarantee that the child’s life would be better off somewhere else, I wholly believe I would be too selfish to let them go.

I withhold parts of my past to spare you guilt. You have a general idea of how my life has been. I don’t get into the details of the really bad parts because I don’t want you to feel guilty. There was no way for you to know or to have prevented it. And although my adoptive family was highly dysfunctional, I love them very much. If anything, sometimes I feel like I should have, could have, done more with my life. I feel like my life was spared for a reason, and I don’t want to be a disappointment to you.

Sometimes I don’t know whether discussing my childhood is painful for you. As soon as I met you, I wanted to catch you up on everything you had missed all these years. I wished I’d had a highlight reel to play for you. I wanted you to see all the photos and hear all the stories. (Ok, maybe not all the stories.) I don’t know how it makes you feel though. I can’t tell if you are sad you missed that time with me or glad that I have happy memories and a pretty good life. Mostly I just stick to current event topics for that reason.

I’m always thinking of you, even if we haven’t talked in a bit. I’m bound to get lost in the day-to-day with kids and the house. I know I don’t message or call nearly as often as I should. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think about you every day. It’s difficult to describe, but it can be challenging trying to work out a new family dynamic when you suddenly gain a whole additional family.

I am fortunate enough to have my birth mother in my life. While I may not always do or say the right thing, I can’t imagine my life without her in it. Searching for my birth family is one of the best decisions I ever made. I am excited when I see my boys with her, and I hope we are able to live a long, happy life together.

Are you considering placing a child for adoption? Not sure what to do next? First, know that you are not alone. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to speak to one of our Options Counselors to get compassionate, nonjudgmental support. We are here to assist you in any way we can.