"If only you knew what I know," begins a heartbreaking open letter from a mother who was shamed in the aisles of Target by a woman who believed she was "spoiling" her daughter by carrying her around the store in a sling instead of pushing her in a cart. Kelly Dirkes continues her letter to the woman by explaining that her daughter was adopted and for the first 10 months of her life was completely alone, surrounded by the bars of a sterile, metal crib with nothing and no one to comfort her.
If you only knew what her face looked like the moment her orphanage caregiver handed her to me to cradle for the very first time — fleeting moments of serenity commingled with sheer terror. No one had ever held her that way before, and she had no idea what she was supposed to do.
If you only knew that she would lay in her crib after waking and never cry — because up until now, no one would respond.
If you only knew that that baby in the carrier is heartbreakingly "independent" — and how we will spend minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years trying to override the part of her brain that screams "trauma" and "not safe."
Dirkes's letter continues, and though it's addressed to this one woman, its message should speak to every single person out there: you don't always know what someone is going through.
Read the rest of her heartbreaking letter above.