Dear Arielle’s Birth Mom:
I wish with all my heart that you could read this letter.
Here in the United States, we are soon celebrating a holiday known as Thanksgiving. It involves friends and family getting together over a bountiful meal to celebrate all we are thankful for.
It is my favorite holiday because it focuses on gratitude.
And I am so grateful to you for giving me the best gift ever: our precious child. I say “our” because she will always be your daughter as well as mine.
Always and forever.
I can’t imagine how difficult it was — because of dire circumstances in your country — for you to have painfully decided to give her up. In adoption circles in the US, we say that a child is “placed for adoption.” But that’s not true in your case: you made the heart-breaking choice to give your precious baby away, hoping she would find a good home somewhere in the world.
I assure you that your dream for her has come true. Arielle (that’s her English name) has found a wonderful home in America, a home of love and happiness and daily laughter. A home where I work hard to build her self-esteem. And she has educational and future vocational opportunities here that she unfortunately couldn’t have in her birth country.
Let me tell you about our six-year-old daughter. She is a joyful, sweet child who leads a happy life. She enjoys her weekly ballet classes and watching cooking shows on television. She wants to be a ballet teacher-chef-princess when she grows up. She doesn’t want to be a school teacher because she sees how hard I work grading college papers and preparing for classes. I totally understand.
Her favorite colors are “pink, purple, and magenta,” and she loves it when I polish her nails with these colors. Her favorite animals are horses, although she is too scared to get up close and personal with such magnificent animals. Our daughter is shy, but there’s nothing wrong with that. I was shy at her age.
She’s lost three baby teeth thus far, and one is loose. Her permanent teeth look good so far.
She and I are both artists. She has a talent for drawing and painting, and I am encouraging her talent.
Our daughter is a hard worker, as she always volunteers to help me around the house. She also has amazing compassion and kindness. She enjoys helping others, even our cats. I remember the time she yelled at the veterinarian because Arielle thought the vet was harming the animal. After I had foot surgery last year, Ari insisted on changing my dressings. To spare her from what would be a scary sight for someone so young, tender, and sensitive, I refused and insisted on changing my own dressing. She wouldn’t stop sobbing until I relented. She changed my dressings like an expert and was happy to have done so.
I think she will wind up in an occupation where she will help others. Perhaps a nurse or doctor. Perhaps a social worker. OK, perhaps a social worker-chef-ballet teacher-princess.
My concern is that she will get so wrapped up in helping others, she will forget to take care of herself first and foremost. I’m encouraging her to be a carefree child and trying to instill the value that it’s totally acceptable to take care of oneself.
Like many six-year-olds, Arielle has a burning curiosity about everything. I am taking advantage of this and as often as I can, I take her to cultural activities in the Chicago area where we live. I’ve taken her to ballets, plays, and museums. We celebrate the Chinese New Year, and I am forever a student of Chinese culture, so I can help Arielle know and appreciate her heritage.
I am serious about her learning through books and in the world at large. I want her to grow up educated, with a love of learning, and cultured. I’m hoping to eventually take her on more trips in this country, as well as journeys abroad.
When she is old enough, we will visit China so she can see her native land and meet the kind, generous people there.
I wish with all my heart that we could meet you. I know it would be a good thing for Arielle, and I’m hoping it would be a good experience for you, too. It breaks my heart that we won’t ever get to know each other.
One day, I’m sure, our daughter will want to know about the woman who birthed her. It pains me that I don’t have any information about you because finding birth parents in China is next to impossible. So we will never have answers.
I am ensuring she never loses sight of her Chinese heritage. For three years prior to adopting Arielle, I studied Mandarin intensely. I’m not fluent by any means, but I was able to communicate well with the people in China. It’s a beautiful language that our daughter should learn. Up until now she has shown no interest in the language, but now she is.
Luckily, America and particularly Chicago are melting pots, with many Asians and Asian-Americans. Still, the country has a long way to go, as there is racism.
Since white people are the majority in America, Arielle lives in a culture of white privilege. This has been a challenge for her lately. However, we just joined a support group where many Chinese children get together twice a month for fun activities. It’s a mentorship program with Chinese and Chinese American college students offering their time and guidance, helping kids feel good about being Asian in a white world.
I adopted Arielle when she was 13 months old. It bothers me that I missed important milestones up until that time, such as her first birthday, first tooth, first motor skills. However, I’m grateful to have witnessed many, many milestones, such as her first step and her first English word. It saddens me that you have missed and will miss even more milestones than I did.
If I had your address, I would frequently send you pictures of our daughter, and I would tell you all about her milestones. In my fantasies, you and I would get to know each other and become friends.
So, this Thursday, Arielle and I will celebrate Thanksgiving with good friends. I will feel your presence and absence.
There’s a place for you at the Thanksgiving table, and there will always be a place for you in our hearts.
I love you,