At the risk of sounding hopelessly and tragically uncool (not that any of you for one second have looked at me and thought I was cool), I have a confession. I love Valentine’s Day now. I believe it’s an absurd made-up holiday to sell overpriced candy and cards. It’s one more opportunity to disappoint someone in your life by not recognizing them appropriately. I get it–but, also, I can remember a time not so long ago when my dearest, most desperate wish in the world was to have a child. This desire was only exacerbated by Valentine’s Day: cute pictures of little ones dressed in pink and purple hearts, cute little Valentine’s Day cards, and buckets full of candies. All of it made me weep. I wanted to shower someone with love and get little hearts cut from construction paper to hang proudly on my refrigerator. Now I want my children to know of my love for them–especially today.

So then, my darlings, you walked into our lives. And everything that made me cry with wanting was now overflowing with happiness. Except, well, you aren’t actors and this isn’t a Hallmark movie. For better or worse, we all feel our own feelings in different ways. So my unbridled joy was probably overwhelming. I wanted to fill in all the gaps of your wounds and heartbreak with so much love you couldn’t possibly feel sad. We all know just how well that works (which is not at all). 

Of course, on some level, I knew that to be true. I knew there was nothing I or your dad could do to erase your past. It didn’t stop me from wanting it though. And it’s not that I want you to forget your birth families. It really isn’t. I wish you could forget all of the pain. I wish your trauma could be erased as easily as hugging you and telling you it would be alright. Which, of course, I know isn’t how these things work. Your past is part of who you are, and erasing it won’t help you heal. 

That being said, back to Valentine’s Day. I am so thankful for you. I wish for your sake your stories had a happier beginning. I wish things hadn’t turned so wrong that you ended up in the situations you ended up in. I wish your past was a safe place for you. But barring that, I’m glad you’re with us. 

How do I love you? Let me count the ways: 

You are so much like your dad and me that it blows my mind. It cracks me up how similar we are in so many ways. Your intelligence, sarcasm, and sense of humor are delightful to witness. 

You are delightfully individual. Each of you has a sparkle all your own. It has been so fun to learn who you are and who you wish to be. I consider it one of my greatest privileges to bear witness to your triumphs, defeats, and everything in between. I can’t wait to see many, many more. 

I love your creativity. Every one of you is creative and imaginative in ways that astound me. 

I love your bravery. I love that even though terrible things have happened to you, you face each day trying to do your best. Some days that’s just rolling out of bed and existing. Take it from a person who fights those same battles: that’s enough. 

I love it when you are sweet with each other. I know I get onto you for arguing, but all of the in-between times when you’re making up games, reading each other stories, or playing video games together–I love the bond you’re forming. 

I love the way you want to help. You get excited to cook and while it’s sometimes frustrating to need to slow down to show you how to do something, I’m glad you want to learn. 

I love the way you make me think. I am constantly wondering if I’m doing the right thing or if my response was the right one. You’re helping me to be a better person.

I love the way you challenge me.

I love the way you want to be with me. I may never get over you wanting to sit and talk to me or ask my opinion on things. I love it. I love your questions and conversations. 

I love the way you apologize and let me apologize too. I don’t remember getting apologized to a bunch in my childhood. I’m grateful that you allow me to say I’m sorry when I’m wrong. That’s never something I thought I needed, but it turns out I really do. 

I love so many things about each of you. It would be impossible to list all the things about you that make me smile. 

I love the way you trust me. Your existence in my life makes it better.

I love that you were adopted. Some people only want to adopt as a second choice: a plan B or a last option. I have wanted to adopt a child for most of my life. I wanted to be able to make a difference for a child who needed me. It turns out I need you at least as much as you need me if not more. I chose you, but you continue to choose me. You let me into your hearts a little more each day, and that is so special to me. 

I love that even when I mess up, and I mess up a lot, you forgive so easily. 

Most of all, darlings, I want you to know that even if there are days I don’t show it, days where my depression drags me under and my anxiety and insomnia turn me into a snippy grump, I love you and I like you and there is nothing you can do to make that not true. 

I also need you to know that it’s okay if you don’t love me back the same way I love you. As you grow older, your feelings about adoption will probably become more complicated, not less. I will always be here. For as long as I am living you will have a home with me if I can help it. You are my children and I couldn’t love you any more or less if I had given birth to you. I couldn’t love you more if you and I shared DNA as well as a last name. 

Love, Mama