Birthmom, when we first met one another, just after I’d graduated from college, I was able at last to offer you the two words I’d held in my heart for 22 years: Thank you.
Thank you for having the courage to carry me to term in the late 1960s while Diana Ross and the Supremes’ hit, “Love Child,” describing the shame and pain of a child born out of wedlock, was climbing the American music charts.
You were so brave.
Thank you for your physical labor of love that gave me life. I can’t imagine what it was like for you to carry me, to labor, and to give birth with so little support.
You were so powerful.
Thank you for making a plan to secure my welfare. Thank you for finding an adoption agency that would shepherd me with love.
You were so wise.
I am forever grateful for what I know of your sacrifice of love, and even more so for the sacrifices I can never begin to imagine.
To my first foster family, and all those like them, who care for children awaiting a forever family: Thank you.
For my youngest son, Abhishek, the women who were his first early caregivers at an Indian orphanage in Pune, Maharashtra were called “ayas.” For two foundational years, ayas, you were everything to my Abhi. You fed him and changed his diapers, you held him and comforted him, you bathed him and gripped his sweet little hand as he learned to walk.
When Abhi’s dad and I traveled to India 12 years ago to adopt him, you made sure that I knew the foods he loved most. You informed me that he was fascinated by animals. And you made sure I knew that his favorite cable channel was Animal Planet. (I didn’t have the heart to tell you he wasn’t coming home to cable TV.)
This summer, as Abhi turned 14, you received our boy back for his first visit home. With his sister and his dad, Abhi traveled to India to hear, taste, and touch the people, places, culture, and nation who birthed and nurtured him.
Abhi, of course, holds no memory of your generous care. But you do, and I do. In photos his dad snapped during his trip, I can see your faces beaming upon my boy. I know you hold in your hearts the earliest memories of him, memories that his dad and I missed.
Though I understand that I am a virtual stranger to you, I hold you in my heart with such fondness and gratitude for the care you offered to my son.
Thank you, caregivers, for protecting my son when he was the most vulnerable.
You were so fierce.
Thank you, caregivers, for nurturing him, smiling upon him, and communicating to him that he belonged and that he was loved.