To my children’s real mother,
Yes, you are their real mother. I have never contested that, except in the one small selfish place in my heart that wants the title. If ever I forget, I am reminded by the fact that they do not call me mom, but use my first name. I am reminded when they ask when they will get to live with you, and when they squeal with excitement because it’s Monday and “We have a visit with MOMMY!”
I will not pretend it doesn’t hurt a little, because I love them, they are beautiful, and I would love to be their mom, but I’m not going to be. With that in mind,I try very hard to be supportive, respectful, and professional with you, but I can’t stick to that in this letter. There are some things I just need to say.
First I have to ask you to please not hit them, bite them, scratch them, hurt them. I know you like to pretend it didn’t happen, but it did. I will never forget the bruises in the shape of your teeth. I will never forget worrying over the scratch near his eye that finally, thankfully, didn’t scar. Please don’t you forget either. Please don’t hurt them. I am begging because I don’t know what else to do. I know you understand because you have been a mother who has no control, who has to surrender and hope that others will love them, and protect them, so please remember how desperate you felt and how scared you were, and care for them as you have begged me to care for them all these months. Please become a protector, and never again use your body to hurt theirs. I pray that God who can make miracles can make this of you.
I have to ask you to keep them clean, and well dressed. I’ll help you if you don’t have the money. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but they need to bathe each day, and brush their teeth, and wear clothes that don’t reek and shoes that don’t have holes allowing mud to seep through onto their little toes. When I met them all of their clothes had been thrown away, that’s how filthy they were. Their little bodies filled the tub at the social work office with grime. Their little feet stood all but barefoot in the December snow, the soles of their shoes nonexistent. I know you don’t realize it sometimes, but children should look as though they’re cherished, because they deserve to be. Please do that for them, even if you think cleanliness is “no big deal”.
Oh god, please take care of them when I can’t be there. This prayer, this wish, this is what I think of every time I close my eyes over birthday candles, shooting stars, 11:11 on the clock: that you will care for them well, truly doing your best, and that they will in turn heal and blossom into happy futures. That’s all I want. And if I can’t be there, that’s ok. I will miss their voices, their faces, their every mannerism, with an ache that will never leave me, but if they can be happy, truly happy, I will want for nothing in this world.
I know that if you really read this you would feel judged, and angry, and think that I was incredibly presumptuous. It was you, after all, who felt them turn in the womb, you who have been there for almost every moment leading up to the day I first met them, who knew the story from the beginning, wrote it even. You would be reactive if I showed these words to you, because that’s who you are, and you’d probably scream, cuss at me, make accusations. Which is why you’ll never read this…but I pray that on the day they walk away from me forever, that the most important part of this message follows them and reaches you, too: love. I love them more than anything. If only I could turn that love into a blanket that would cover all of you, all three of you, in a layer of patience and kindness and hope. Maybe I can. I’m trying.
One more thing: Even if I can never say it, I hope you’ll know I love you too. You created these miracles, my boys! Truly yours but mine for a season and I’m forever grateful, and changed. To know them has been the greatest gift. Thank you.
Your children’s foster mother