A woman I have never met, and possibly will never meet, carried my son in her body for 37 weeks. I remembered the nurses saying the words “37 weeks” because he was just a little bit small at birth weighing 6lbs, 8ozs, and in the couple of months that followed, friends and family would ask if he was carried to term and I would repeat the words “37 weeks” over and over. It stayed with me, those weeks I didn’t know him, wasn’t protecting him, wasn’t experiencing him grow. In truth, I didn’t even know he was alive yet in those weeks. In those weeks, he was only hers.

When you’re a new adoptive mom, you think about your child’s birth mom every day, or at least I did.

I would wonder if she was back to work, how she was healing, and what she was feeling. I wondered if she doubted her choice. I wondered if she missed him. I thought about her body and the changes it was going through. I prayed for fast healing. I prayed for her to have peace. I prayed over her heart. There was no way for me to know if it was breaking, but mine was for her, so I prayed just in case. I wished I could cover her face in kisses for choosing life, and hug her hard for also choosing me.

I know a little about her story, and although it’s not my story to tell, I will tell you she was brave in the way she went about protecting our son. So brave I often daydream about her dressed in full armor, weapon drawn, ready to fight the big fight. The big, hard, emotional, impossible fight of true love. The one where you only win by losing. The kind of fight you fight with the ultimate sacrifice in mind. I have no idea what she looks like, never saw a picture, but my social worker who did meet her told me what I already knew: “She is so beautiful.” I knew this because beauty radiates from people who are in love, and there’s only one way you can do the impossible—true love. Thirty-seven weeks of radical, deep, unconditional love.

You see, a woman I’ve never met carried my son in her body for 37 weeks. And when he’s curious or confused about why she let him go, I will tell him it was out of bravery and love.

I will tell him she is our hero. Better yet, our SHERO. I will paint the best possible picture of her I can and I will pray his heart will be OK, but if it isn’t, I will carry him through it. I will carry him on my hip, while he’s sleeping, on the good days, in the difficult times, when we celebrate, when he’s two, and three, and 33. I will carry him for the rest of his life, no matter how big he gets, no matter what phase he goes through, no matter what, I will carry him.

For 37 weeks my son’s birth mother protected him and kept him safe so he could grow healthy and strong. For the rest of his life, I promise to do the same. This is not just a promise I have made to him, this is a promise I have made to her, and I am determined to make her proud.

This post originally appeared on the author’s blog

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Tara Quellhorst

Tara and her husband Jeremy found out they could never have children naturally, so as they dove into the process of adoption, Tara dove into writing. Tara blogged through every heartbreak and frustration of the infertility journey, and ultimately, joyfully about the birth and life of her adopted son.