It’s my daughter’s birthday.
On her first birthday, I pushed down all of the emotions I felt as I attended her birthday party. Most of the people didn’t know who I was. Those who did, thanked me and told me how grateful they were for my sacrifice. It felt awful and weird and nothing the adoption facilitator, not anything I had read online prepared me for watching my daughter’s parents pose for picture after picture with her while no one asked me to smile with her.
Still, I felt grateful. Not many birth parents get to attend their child’s first birthday. I knew I was lucky, even if it felt weird.
Every birthday since then, I’ve either been able to speak with my daughter or be in attendance. I’ve either told her, “Happy birthday, I love you,” on the phone or in person. It’s always been me, doing this thing. It was part of the promise I made to her as I held her on that first evening, back when she was still mine and mine alone. I promised I’d always be there.
I didn’t wish her a happy birthday today.
Or, I did.
When the clock rolled over to midnight, still awake and feeling an overwhelming mix of emotions, I sent a birthday wish out into the universe. This afternoon, I sent her mom a text asking her to send along my birthday wishes—if she felt that wouldn’t make my daughter’s day worse. My daughter’s mother did and reported back.
But I didn’t speak to my daughter.
I didn’t get to tell my daughter that I love her. No matter what. Always. Forever. I didn’t get to tell her that I understand certain aspects of her life. I was once a teenage girl. I didn’t get to apologize for not knowing, way back when, how my decision would negatively affect her, her brothers, me, all of us.
I didn’t get to tell her that she’ll always have a piece of my heart.
She doesn’t want to speak to me right now, doesn’t want me in her life.
They don’t tell you about that when you’re considering placement. They don’t tell you that someday your child may want nothing to do with you even though you’ve been there, every single day, since day one. They don’t tell you that the first birthday after your child decides you’re expendable feels worse than death.
My heart is broken. It’s just broken. I physically hurt.
I can’t even write anything more eloquent than that tonight. I’m broken.
14 years ago I gave birth to a baby girl. They told me I could be a part of her life. I was. Until I wasn’t allowed to be anymore.
Happy birthday, my daughter. I love you. Always. I will be here when you are ready. Until then…