I am totally obsessed with Maya Angelou right now, and perhaps it is not coincidence that I started reading Letter to My Daughter on today of all days, Gracie’s tenth birthday.
I learned to love my son without wanting to possess him, Maya writes about the child she raised (she has no biological daughter). It made me pause and think about my biological daughter – how so much of my missing her is because I do not possess her – I do not live with her and get to see her every day. She is not mine.
Reading this made me pause to think of how children are not our own. Children grow up in a home with a family, but they are never our’s, rather they are in our care. They grow into adults themselves with their own ideals and thoughts and interests. They leave the nest soon and take off on their own and although they return to our homes now and then, they make a home for themselves. I want that, of course, for Gracie. I want her to grow into a strong, independent adult capable of doing all that she wishes on her own, and she will get there soon, despite the fact that I never possessed her.
What is more important than possessing Gracie is loving her. The more love she receives, the more she will give. She will make people feel special if people make her feel special. She will give what she gets and get what she gives. I think my biggest fear is that she will grow up to think she was abandoned or unwanted, that her mother pawned her off because she wasn’t loved. I know her parents won’t tell her that, I just fear that all adopted children think that, which hopefully isn’t true.
There are plenty of reasons children are placed up for adoption, but in our case, a lack of love was not it. What I wanted for Gracie was a home and two parents and stability that I couldn’t offer her. Kids often blame themselves for situations completely out of their control, and I never want Gracie to blame herself for being adopted, or to treat adoption like some sort of handicap. Hopefully she will see the love from all sides, now having felt the warmth of a stable home and two parents – what I didn’t have to give her ten years ago.
I remember that day so clearly, a decade ago. I remember the nurse asking me if I wanted to hold her, and I wanted to, but I didn’t know if I was strong enough. I held her anyway.
My letter to my daughter is this:
You are loved more than you know. Whatever you choose to do, make sure to: Treat people with respect; Give selflessly; Love unconditionally; Forgive readily; Don’t compare yourself to others, but rather against the best you are capable of; Follow your dreams. Did I mention you are loved more than you know? You are.