The email was terse and to the point. The lady at the agency had warned me before sending it through, but it still hurt.
I tracked you down through my adoption records. Before we go any further, I want the answer to one question please. Why did you give me away?
I started typing several times but it seemed too impersonal, too cold. This was my daughter, my firstborn child. She was also a stranger - and an angry one at that.
What should I do, Lord?
The answer slipped in through my dreams. I saw myself writing by hand, loops and whorls flowing across textured paper; loving words that carried healing power. When I awoke the next morning, I scrabbled through drawers and cupboards. Who keeps writing paper these days anyway? I found some yellow copy paper but that wouldn’t do for Helen.
Helen, Helen, Helen. Her name was strange on my lips, but sweet. I’d named her Josie but Helen was a good name too. Helen, Josie, Helen, Josie. It was like a song bubbling from deep within.
A little later, I headed to the stationery store at the mall. The scent of fine paper spilled through the doorway and I inhaled deeply as I wandered between shelves of books. The writing paper was at the back of the shop because as the assistant put it, “Hand-written letters are a thing of the past.”
Back home, I set the table with a cream linen cloth and added a crystal vase of roses. Their perfume was rich and comforting as I lay the writing paper on a board in front of me. The sheets were pastel pink, almost cushioned they were so thick, and each page was scalloped around the edges.
How does one condense the emotion of 23 years into a single page, I wondered. How can I explain what happened and capture my sorrow and regret in a few words?
I felt God whisper deep in my soul, Write from your heart.
With a prayer of thanks I started writing the words that had burned a pattern into the very fabric of my being.
It was so wonderful to hear from you – and yes – it’s only fair that you need an answer to your question. I was 15 when you were born and my parents insisted I give you away. They were pastors at a big city church and felt it was inappropriate that their daughter be an unmarried mother.
I hadn’t agreed with them and we’d had stormy arguments laced with bitter words and cutting accusations. Because I was a minor, though, I didn’t really have a choice when the day came around.
I got to hold you once after you were born. The staff had bathed you and you were wearing a tiny yellow stretch suit I’d bought with my pocket money. It had daisies sprinkled all over it and you felt so right in my arms - the way you relaxed and snuggled and fitted in. When they came and took you away, it was as though someone had ripped you from my heart. The seams of life were torn and ragged and all hope was gone.
God has brought healing since that day, but I’ve never forgotten the joy of holding you. I pray for you regularly and always celebrate your birthday by doing something special. I’m truly sorry if you’ve ever felt rejected or unwanted. The truth is that you are deeply loved and always have been.
With my very best wishes
I folded the sheet carefully and tucked it into a matching envelope, smoothing the pearlescent seal closed. On the front I wrote her name in flowing letters, Helen.
Carry my love with it, Lord. Let her know she is special, that I never gave her up willingly.
I placed the letter inside a large envelope addressed to the adoption agency and dropped it in the post box on the corner of my street.
A week later, the lady at the agency called again. “I have a letter from your daughter. It seems she’s followed your example of using snail mail. I’ll forward it onto your address.”
I sat back, a smile spreading like warm honey. I’d better get my writing paper out, Lord ... and let this fragile bond grow and strengthen until Helen’s ready to meet me face to face.
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