Dear Birth Father of my adopted son,
You don’t know me and you don’t know you have a son, so this letter is the equivalent of a tree falling in an uninhabited forest. I can accept the law of physics that says the delicate ferns reclining in the shade, ripe huckleberries clustering indiscreetly, and hopeful seedlings willing themselves toward the sun’s light will not hear it, but they feel it.
I need to believe they feel it.
Just like I need you, unwitting creator, to feel my deep gratitude for your part in giving me a child.
There is, after all, no day on the calendar to celebrate the birth mothers and fathers whose sacrifices allow others to live happily ever after. No cards, no flowers, no neckties resting in gift bags. No special meals, no Facebook posts, no bear hugs, no hand shakes, no hashtags. If ever there were an unsung hero, it is you.
Because of you I got to witness a baby’s first smile, eager crawl, stumbling walk, and confident run.
Because of you, I get to hear “I love you” whispered daily as my son’s warm arms wrap around my tired neck. And the giggles! Oh, the giggles, like fresh raindrops on a desert plain.
Because of you, I get to witness passion in its purest form. This child you created has the mind of an artist, a builder, a story teller. This child believes in the importance of daydreams, he will not be interrupted from these mind stories without protesting.
I can’t help wondering as he sits on the floor, shins under thighs, humming and building empires brick by brick, if you sat that way too as a child.
Can you tell me when it ended? When did your ability to soothe your mind with stories finally decrescendo, only to be drowned out by the din of responsibility? I want to know because I’d like to find a way to keep our son’s rich inner life alive as long as I can. Forever, if possible. The world can be a hard place for a black child rapidly flailing toward manhood. His stories could save him some day.
This child, this life, you created stands before me and I see you in him, even though I’ve never seen you before. I’ll bet you have an extraordinary sense of humor, because our son lives to laugh and to make others laugh too. Are you in constant motion? Can’t sit still? Always humming a song to accompany the physical cacophony? And do you hate mushrooms? Embarrass easily? Are you quick to anger, tears?
Oh, Right. I forgot for a moment, as I do sometimes, that you can’t answer me, because like the tree, I struggle to stay rooted, ultimately succumbing to gravity’s silent reminder that you will never hear my grateful musings or look upon your biological son as he rides his bike with no hands, makes the winning catch, or falls in love.
It is days like today that I’d like to believe, I need to believe, that gratitude, if it’s deep enough, can exist without being heard, but felt instead, as it travels the air between us and bows gently at your feet.