To my children’s real mother,
Yes, you are their real mother. As their foster mom, I have done my best to never contest 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 Mondays are visit days. I will not pretend it doesn’t hurt a little, because I love them, they are so beautiful, and I would love to be their mom…but I’m not going to be. I get that, I really do, and I want to see these beautiful children going home to you, their mama. There's just a few things that I need to say.
First I have to ask you to please not hurt them. I know that you like to pretend like it didn’t happen, but it did. I will never forget the bruises in the shape of teeth. I will never forget worrying over the scratch near our child's 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’m not asking this to cause you grief or guilt; I know you already have more of those than you can bear. I’m just asking because I love them, and soon (very soon) I won’t be there to watch over their little bodies anymore.
I have to ask you to keep them clean. 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 and snow 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. They are so beautiful, these children that look just like you. They deserve to look clean, and warm, and loved.
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. It really is. I will miss their voices, their faces, their them-ness, with an ache that will never leave me, but if they can be happy, truly happy with you, then it will all be worth it.
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. Which is why you’ll never read this, because the last thing I would ever want to do would be to add to your burdens, which are many, and so heavy.
I’m not a person who prays, but I find myself praying for them, and you, a prayer that doesn’t have words but is a feeling, a wish. 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 that I love you too. You created these miracles, these children of my heart! Your children, but mine to raise for a short, sweet season, and I’m forever grateful, and changed. To know them has been the greatest gift.
Your children’s foster mother