Dear Mama: A Letter to My Daughter’s Birthmother
by Jane Samuel
Can I call you that? Mama? I know you are not my mother, but that is what she would have called you if she had been permitted to. Had stayed in your arms, in your home, never finding her way to that gate and thus, that spartan, sweltering-in-summer, freezing-in-winter room of crying, hungry, abandoned babies. Unlike me, she would have said it with the right tonal inclination, parroting back your words as you taught her with thought, word and deed who you were – her Mama.
Mama, I have so much to say. So many questions and so many answers. Some for me but most her. Perhaps you have some too? You should.
First can you tell me, tell her, who you are? Entirely, in every cell of your being. Are you a wife, tied to your husband, and his family, in the traditional, filial way? Or are you single, not ever planning to be mother but left that way after some human-need-driven encounter amidst some backward industrial city of the great China…
Sometimes I have wished we could find you. But I know that is next to impossible, and as she and I have talked she has come to know this too, as hard a fact as it is. Perhaps it is the impossibility of this that makes it safe to dream of meeting you, having you know her and her know you. Because as much as I want to heal her of whatever bits of loss still tug at her heart I would not, could not, give her back to you. She is my daughter and our bond after years of love and work is stronger than blood – I think….