Four years ago, Sarah* placed her baby boy for adoption with a loving adoptive family. Through her open adoption, she has received pictures and letters to watch her son grow up happy and healthy. In one of the most recent letters, her son’s parents asked if there was anything she wanted him to know about her side of the adoption.

With immense courage, she finally found the strength to write him a letter of what she wanted him to know about his adoption. She agreed to share this letter with us at American Adoptions:

“I am a planner. I research menus before I go out to eat. I look up movie plots and spoilers before I watch anything. Sometimes I spend more time reading about a TV show than I do watching it.

For the past four years, I’ve started countless letters to you. I’ve read hundreds of letters and articles written by other women in similar situations. I’ve read books on adoption from the perspective of birth mothers, from adoptive parents, from kids who were adopted. I guess I was trying to get a template on what I should say. I couldn’t find anything that said what I wanted to say to you. It turns out this isn’t really a situation you can research your way out of.

Your mom asked me if there was anything I wanted you to know about your adoption from my side of things. Honestly, there are a million things I want you to know, a million stories I could tell you about my life and what led me to you. But all of the stories and explanations and details would point back to one indisputable theme: you are loved.

You are loved. That’s the one thing you need to know, above all else. You were not unwanted, you were not abandoned, you were not a mistake. Years will go by and time will pass but please don’t think for a minute that I will forget you. Giving you up was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Please understand that it was done out of pure love.

I wanted the best possible life for you, and however much I wanted that to be me, it wasn’t. You deserved to have a chance at life that wasn’t suffocated by my burdens.

When you’re older, you might have questions about me and where you came from. I’ll always be here to answer those if they arise. You may wonder what traits you inherited, if there’s any of me in you. Maybe you have my eyes or my nose but I don’t want you to ever question that you have my heart.

I loved you then, I love you now, I will love you forever. Let that be the drumbeat that drowns out any doubt you may have about your place in this world. ”

To her son’s parents, she wrote:

“I won’t ever be able to express how indebted I am to you. Thank you for giving my son a life I could only dream of. I feel like there will always be a hole in my heart, but seeing his smile in the pictures you send me and hearing about his adventures in the letters you write prove to me over and over again that you are his rightful parents.”

We were so touched by her letter that we asked her permission to share it with all of you — prospective birth mothers, pregnant women considering adoption, adoptive parents and everyone else for whom adoption has changed their lives.

While Sarah said writing the letter was hard, she just focused on telling the truth.

“If I only had one chance to tell him anything in the world, what would I want him to know?” she said. “I felt like the only thing he really needs to know is that I love him. I don’t want him to grow up believing that I didn’t want him, or that I just moved on and forgot about him.

“Adoption is not a selfish act,” she added. “You might have people try and convince you otherwise. It doesn’t mean that you care more about your life than your baby’s; it isn’t about trying to avoid the consequences of your actions. Adoption means you want the best possible life for your baby, and you’re willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that happens. It means you love your baby so much that you’re willing to endure the pain of separation in order to ensure their happiness. Sometimes, love means letting go.”

Her letter is just another reminder of how beautiful adoption can be, even when it’s bittersweet. We thank Sarah for her bravery in sharing this letter and hope that you share this letter if you were just as impacted as we are by her beautiful words.

*This birth mother’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.