by BILL HOLLAND
Setting the stage:
I entered the world on Oct. 13, 1948 at 2:10 p.m. Two days earlier the Cleveland Indians had defeated the Boston Braves to win the World Series four games to two. Millions of kids headed off to school, parents headed off to work, the sun shone (my fantasy), and I was put up for adoption.
I would spend the next nine months in eight different foster homes. By the end of June 1949, I was undernourished, under-nurtured and blind when I was adopted by a loving couple. Two weeks after the adoption I gained my sight. The rest, as they say, is history. So here is a letter to the mother I never knew.
I thought I would take a few minutes and tell you about the son you gave birth to. Since chances are great that you will never read this I guess this letter is more for me than you, a cleansing of sorts to put things in perspective and bring some closure.
I was adopted nine months after you gave birth, by Evelyn and Dale Holland of Tacoma, Wash. They were in their 20s when they adopted a blind child who had been bounced around from one foster home to another, eight times in fact, and they gave me a home and a loving environment in which to grow and thrive.
Sure they had their problems; what young couple doesn’t? There was never a moment, however, when I doubted their love for me. They both worked hard and did everything in their power to provide a loving home. They pampered me, as most parents will, and they made sure that I attended the best schools that they could afford, often going without so that I would have the tools and opportunities to succeed.
They are both dead now; dad died of a heart attack when I was 20 and mom died of cancer in 2003. I miss them greatly. The lessons they taught me, and their words, still live today and I find myself recalling those words and lessons with a smile. Like most kids I often turned a deaf ear when they tried to teach me something but in the end the lessons stuck and have guided me throughout my life.
I had a good childhood. I was small for my age but finally grew to a fairly normal size. I was a happy child with good friends and a great neighborhood to explore—a safe environment that fostered learning and love. I was sickly as a child, seemingly catching every flu and cold bug, but I managed to avoid the horrible diseases that so many children caught during the ’50s and ’60s.
Once I had traversed the landscape of childhood my body grew strong and impervious to any disease, so that today I look back and marvel at the body you gave me. I am 63 now and have been blessed with a body that seems to know no limits or restrictions. I have only been to the hospital once, for a back operation.
I would spend the next nine months in eight different foster homes. By the end
of June 1949, I was undernourished, under-nurtured and blind.
I have made mistakes along the way, Mom. I have been divorced twice and tripped and stumbled often as I found my way through life. When times got tough and I ran out of answers I turned to alcohol and I fought that disease for decades. I am happy to report that I have now been sober for five years and I am the happiest that I have ever been. I have a 27-year-old son, Tyler, who is a great kid and I love him very much.
I was a school teacher for 18 years. I have always loved children and it turned out I had a special talent in a classroom, a real passion to pass on knowledge to my students. Besides teaching I have had 20 other jobs to put bread on the table and each job taught me something about life and responsibility. Today I write full time and I have found the same passion for writing that I once had for teaching.
I have never tried to find you, Mom, as so many adopted kids do. I decided a long time ago that you had your reasons for placing me with an adoption agency and that I respect those reasons, whatever they may be. It is not for me to judge you; you did what you thought was right at the time and I can never know why you made that decision because I wasn’t there and I am not you. There is no blame in this letter. I was adopted by two people who loved me and gave me the best upbringing a boy could ask for; to blame you, when I was given everything I needed by my adopted parents, would be silly of me.
I guess I wanted you to know that I love you and I wanted to thank you. You so easily could have opted for an abortion. It certainly was not unheard of back in 1948. There were ways to have it arranged and in many ways it would have been the easy solution for you. Instead, you carried me for nine months and then endured the physical pain of giving birth and the emotional and psychological pain of giving your son away, I know without any doubt that you must have suffered greatly in doing so.
So I thank you, Mom. You gave me birth and in doing that you gave me a chance, and 63 years later that boy you gave life to is a happy and fulfilled man who is surrounded by love. That is an incredible gift, Mom, and I will forever love you for that gift.
I hope you are alive and well; if not I hope you had a good life, a loving life, a life filled with wonder—in short—the same kind of life you gave me.
Bill Holland is a freelance writer from Olympia, Wash., author of numerous books and blogger at www.artistrywithwords.wordpress.com.