A Letter to My Daughter's First Mom: I'm Angry with You

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Dear A,

You don’t know me, but we share something huge -- a child. I am L’s mother. I think of myself as her Last Mom because she had many before me, starting with you. You were her First Mom and I love and am grateful to you for bringing her into the world.

I am also frequently filled with anger at you. And so much confusion. So is our girl. Why didn’t you protect her? Why didn’t you take care of her? Why didn’t you give her all she needed? Why weren’t you the mother she deserved? How could you walk away from your children? Especially when you knew they would continue to be abused and neglected by their father?

She deserves to be raised by biological parents who take good care of her and keep her safe. She deserves to be raised with her siblings. Being abandoned by both of your parents and separated from your sisters and brother is extremely traumatic for a child. So is bouncing around foster care for five years. She has deep scars caused by your choices and actions. She mourns for all that was taken from her. It isn’t fair that she has this pain. I wish you had done right by her and your other children, so they wouldn’t feel such a deep loss, even if that means she would have stayed with you and never been my daughter.

coffee shop letter writing

Other times, I wish I could go back in time and grab her from you the moment she was born or that I had given birth to her myself. I didn’t get to her until she was 9. I missed out on so much. I wish I had been there her whole life to protect her in the ways you couldn’t (or didn’t).

L and I talk of you often. I tell her that I know you loved her because it would be impossible not to. My heart so often feels on the verge of explosion with love and concern for her. I try to help her make sense of how a mother could walk away from her children. I explain to her that you were so very young when her oldest sister was born -- just 14-years-old. Her father was over double your age and you must not have had much support from your own parents that they allowed that to happen. You had six children by the time you were 21. You lived in extreme poverty and were surely overwhelmed. We know from her foster care file that your relationship with her father was volatile. There were domestic abuse allegations (on both sides). You were both arrested more than once. Drug and alcohol abuse was suspected.

I am honest with her about all of these things -- not to make you look bad, but to try to rationalize what you did, why you left her. She can’t help but think that she wasn’t good enough. She was just a toddler when you left, but she blames herself. She thinks she’s a bad child, damaged goods. She lives in constant fear that I’m going to walk out on her, too. After all, if the woman who gave birth to her did it, why wouldn’t everyone else? I work hard every single day to help her recover from the pain, sadness and fear she encountered before knowing me. She works so hard to process and heal from her past.

You threw away an amazing gift, but even when I get mad at you, I’m so thankful for you.

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