To a Wonderful Young Man on His 20th Birthday

I want you to know that you have been surrounded by love since the moment you were born.

My dad made a video of your birth day. Not the birth itself, but the first few hours after. I wish you could see the video, understand that the day you were born was a swirl of great joy, of openness, of possibility. My entire family and many of my friends visited, even though they knew you were going to live with another family -- they still wanted to see you, celebrate you, and welcome you into the world. They said so, on the video, with squeals and smiles and laughter. They thought you were amazing, every yowling ruddy 5 lbs and 10 ounces of you. So did I.

You may not know that you stayed with me in the hospital for the first 24 hours after you were born. I wanted some time to hold you and be with you before handing you to your parents. And I did, you know. Hand you to your parents.

I've never regretted it. Your parents were good people, and I'm guessing your dad still is. They cocooned you with love and pride, and gave you everything your biological father and I weren't mature enough to offer.

But I did watch that birth day video, frequently. And today, on your 20th birthday, I went to watch it for the first time in ten years.

I couldn't find it. I spent an hour looking for it.

I have no idea where your video is. I may have gotten rid of it, during one of my infrequent but earth-scorching sentimental paraphernalia purges, perhaps to honor my children by severing ties to maternal conflicts of interest. It may have gotten lost during one of our moves -- I could have sworn that we put together a box of video tapes when we jumped houses three years ago, but that box is currently imaginary.

I cried, hard, when I realized your video was lost. I felt ill. It was the only video I ever had of you.

So I hope you'll forgive me. I had hoped to show you just how loved you have always been, and what an amazing entrance and first act you had.

You'll just have to believe me.

Happy birthday.


  1. Peggy4:09 AM

    From one birth mother to another - Hugs and thanks.

  2. Yes, hugs. And love.

  3. Sending love and honoring you for the choice you made to give your son a life you knew you weren't able to all those years ago. I think, if he knew you now, he'd be proud to know you.

  4. Thanks, all, I appreciate your support (and empathy, Peggy). This is not something I've been able yet to speak aloud.

    Yesterday was a really hard day - our dearest non-local friends had a horrifying family emergency that made us all question our mortality (though everyone involved should be fine eventually, we've been assured), and prevented those friends from coming to visit for the first time in three years. So I was shaky already.

  5. Oh no!! I hope you find it. It sounds like that memory is still so fresh in your mind, though, and no one can ever purge that.

  6. You win the Internets today. You made me cry, which is really, really hard to do. I cried with sadness for the pain I can only imagine the choice to give him to his parents must have caused you (even knowing it was the right thing), and with joy at the thought that you loved him enough to do what was best for him.

    You're my hero today. Hugs to you and yours, and blessings to that young man.

  7. S,

    Boy, this one choked me up. I knew the story from your previous posts, but the video? with you and gramps and friends? Wow. I just choked. I'm hoping the video is currently missing for a reason and will appear again when it is its time.


  8. I was never so proud of you as I was that day. Your strength made me weak in the knees. My heart filled with pride but it also ached for you as I watched yours break....offering him physically to the people who you knew could give him everything that you couldn't. Where did that strength come from in one so young? And you have continued to give your all to others in need whoever they might be. How was I so blessed to have a girl like you?

  9. I win the Internets! Woo-hoo!

    And, Mom, I had a good role model.

  10. oh hon.

    happy birthday to him, heartily!!

  11. Thanks so much for sharing this story, Shannon. You had such strength, bravery and clarity of vision in making this heart-breaking choice. Birthmoms like you make my world go 'round.


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