Dear Alma, You Belong With Love

If you are not familiar with the story of Habiba and Alma, please read this article to understand the situation of this mother/daughter pair in Spain.

Dear Alma,

The words you usually hear around you are in a language I don’t speak.  The words you are beginning formulate to express yourself are words I would not understand.  You will probably never see this, never read it or have it read to you.  Still, I have something to say to you.

She didn’t leave you Alma.  She’s hurting too.  She’s fighting for you.

Around the world there are millions of women tasting the salt of your mother’s tears on their own cheeks.  There are mommies and daddies that walk very different paths whose arms feel the lonely ache your absence brings to your mother’s arms.  Little girls and boys who hug their mommies tight when they hear your story.  Voices that speak “I love you baby” in thousands of different languages sing lullabies of comfort in your name.  So many pairs of breast tighten as your mama’s breasts tighten at a feeding you are missing.  Families tossing and turning on mats, beds, cots, pallets and hammocks with the loss of warmth your mother experiences with you not snuggled safely next to her.  Where you belong.

She didn’t leave you Alma.  She’s hurting too.  She’s fighting for you.

Around the world names are being signed, letters sent, articles written, people gathering, signs made and held all because we feel your mommy’s hurt.  We feel the forced abandonment you and your mother are having to endure.  We’re angry.  But not at you.  At those who don’t understand and are so concerned with appearing to be right they won’t admit they were wrong and so inflict more harm upon you and your mother.  For their pride.

She didn’t leave you Alma.  She’s hurting too.  She’s fighting for you.

How do I know this?  Because even though we pray differently, even though my skin is a different color, even though there is a different language on my tongue, even though my clothes are a different style, when it comes to loving you, I know your mothers heart.  It’s like my own.

She didn’t leave you Alma.  She’s hurting too.  She’s fighting for you.

I have a little girl, just 2 months older than you.  She walks and she speaks a few words but she’s still so much a baby.  She finds comfort and nourishment at my breast, sometimes she eats big girl food and other times just throws it on the ground preferring the soft warmth of me.  Her favorite place to sleep is curled up to my side where she can smell me, feel me, sense my breath and hear my heartbeat.  I call her Smunchie.  These days she likes to explore but often comes back to me with unsteady steps and arms raised to be close again.  Together we do what comes naturally.  Some people call it a style of parenting but for us it’s just called love.  It’s how we are together.  Not everyone understands it but that’s ok, they don’t have to, she and I understand it.  Like you and your mama understand it.  It’s what comes naturally to us, part of being mama and bebe.

She didn’t leave you Alma.  She’s hurting too.  She’s fighting for you.

But nobody has torn Smunchie and me apart.  Nobody has taken her from me, she has not experienced me suddenly gone from her life.  Her favorite food, comfort and person in the world remain with her.  She lives in love.  She knows security.  If someone took her from me I wouldn’t be able to sleep, to eat, I’m not sure I could breathe.  Oh sweet Alma, how I ache for your mother but how I weep for you.  I have seen my children suffer and been helpless to stop it and it is a pain more agonizing than any I have endured.  Your mother has a goal, something to do to keep her focused and pushing through the suffering not having you brings.  But you, dear one, all you know is she is gone.  All you know is in this moment everything that has been your truth is no longer there.  Your cruel reality is no hope, you don’t even know what hope is.  She is not there.  Period.  Her breath, her arms, her heartbeat, her voice, her breast, her milk, her smell all gone.  Love, gone.  From what I understand you have brief moments together but under the watchful eye of someone that doesn’t understand your love and your communication.  Someone that prevents what comes so naturally to you and your mother.  These bittersweet moments must confuse you and hurt so much yet give you a glimpse of the love you know.  Why did she leave?  Why doesn’t she stay?  Is she going to leave again?  Fear has replaced love.  You may not know hope but you now know fear.

How I pray that one day soon again you will know love freely again.

She didn’t leave you Alma.  She’s hurting too.  She’s fighting for you.

The people that did this are wrong.  They are people that are supposed to help, people that you are supposed to trust.  But this time they are wrong.  Very wrong.  And their pride is keeping them from fixing their wrong.  They don’t understand when they are faced with something different from what they’ve come to accept as normal.  Or someone different from them.  The world is like this sometimes.  I wish you did not need to experience this harsh reality so soon in your life.  And now that you have you should be able to find security in your anchor, your mother.  Your truth.  But they have taken that away because they don’t understand.  They are wrong.

She didn’t leave you Alma.  She’s hurting too.  She’s fighting for you.

We’re fighting for you too.  To fight for you we are telling your story.  We’re signing our names.  We’re standing outside Spanish Embassies and sending letters demanding you and your mother be reunited.  That they rectify the wrong they’ve made.  We’re sharing articles, making phone calls, sending faxes, making t-shirts, identifying with your mama and doing what we can where we are. To honor you and your mother we’re hugging our babies closer.  Offering our breasts with gratitude.  Laying down at night saying a prayer.  It doesn’t feel like enough.  Nothing will until you are where you belong.  You belong with your mother, home.  You belong with Love.

She didn’t leave you Alma.  She’s hurting too.  She’s fighting for you.

We all are.

Sending all my love,

Jessica, The Leaky Boob.  A mommy.

___________________________

If you have any articles/blog posts/news coverage/documents to add to this list, please post them in the comments below.  I know I’m missing a lot right now so please help me collect them.  Thanks!

Petitions:

Spanish

English

News Articles:

La fiscalía impugnará la retirada de la tutela a Habiba (Span.)

Elpais Habiba (Span.)

When Breastfeeding Brings You Separation from Your Child (Eng.)

Allaitement: une fillette retirée à sa mère (Fr.)

Mother and child separated due to extended breastfeeding; protesters to gather (Eng.)

Documents:

Letter from Carlos González Rodríguez, pediatric doctor (Span.)

Report On Maternal Behavior of Habiba With Her Daughter Alma (Eng)

Blogs:

We Are All Habiba Blog (Eng.)

We Are All Habiba- Standing up for a mother’s right to her baby. (Eng.)

Is Habiba A Hoax? (Eng.)

Habiba Hits The News: Doctors Speak Out (Eng.)

Habiba and the Indictment of Attachment Parenting (Eng.)

Lessons from Habiba (Eng.)

I am Habiba (Eng.)

Spanish government authorities removed 15 month old nursling from mother’s care due to her refusal to wean her child by force. (Eng.)

IMMF Give Back Habiba’s Baby! (Eng.)

You’d Take My Child From Me? (Eng.)

Other:

Ibone, the psychiatrist of the case (Span.)

Worldwide Mothers Support Habiba!  IMMF Give her baby back! Facebook Page (Eng.)

Que el IMMF permita que Habiba amamante a su niña YA (Span.)

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Comments

  1. That was absolutely beautiful, Jessica. I could tell it was right from the heart! You had to make me cry right before bed?

  2. Soaring Butterfly says:

    Okay, I’m gonna have to finish reading this later, I didn’t even make it half way through an I want to cry so hard but I can’t do that in front of my husband (I’m weird that way). But already, this is so beautiful, so lovely, so wonderful, you’ve taken the words right out of my heart which is aching for Alma and Habiba. I hope and pray that they ate reunited soon and I hope and pray that the wonderful people helping Habiba right now see this, translate it and share it with her. You have just inspired me to try harder, to do more, to share this story and get this mom and baby the help they need to be together again. Thank you for your words and your inspiration and Bless You!

    In unity for Habiba and all mothers,
    Soaring Butterfly.

  3. Jessica, thank you. I could have / should have written this. Bless you & Prayers to Alma & Habiba & all other mothers. xo

  4. Oh, Jessica. I’ve had trouble reading about this story because it makes my heart hurt, but I read your beautiful letter to the end. Thank you for putting into words what we are all feeling.

  5. This is beautiful. Lord have mercy!

  6. I just can’t stop crying, Im a foster mom, and I know how hard this separation are for kids, they don’t understand whats going on. Sometimes kids are rescue from neglet, but sometimes is just mother making bad desition ( Im not talking about habiba) for ej going to jail, but they love her kids and her kids love them. those kids break my heart when came to my home, they just want mommy. Habiba story is worse because they take alma away bc she love her too much, and she want to breastfeed her and couddle her in her arms.

    Jessica would you like that someone translate this in spanish so can in any way one day may be Alma can read it. This letter express so much love Im sure Habiba and Alma will love to read it one day

    Jessica you are awesome!!!

    • Noelia, I’d love for someone to translate it! Yes please. Thank you so much. I know Alma just wants to be with her mommy and must be so confused. My heart breaks for children removed from their parents wrongly. It’s so sad when the very programs that are intended to protect children bring harm simply because they are too narrow minded and uneducated. ~Jessica

      • Soaring Butterfly says:

        I think, Jessica, that you should fax the Spanish version of that letter to every consulate and Spanish government agency you can get numbers for. Then you (we all on your behalf, with your permission) should start faxing and emailing the English version to anyone and everyone we can think of. All the other info we are putting out there is great and the doctor reports are so important but your letter also tugs at the heartstrings and also gives credence to very normal maternal behavior. One would hope that this letter would find it’s way into an empathetic mother’s inbox somewhere that would help take up this cause with us.

        Just a thought.
        Soaring Butterfly.

      • I done with the translation how can I send it to you?

  7. Holly aka Lynne says:

    Reading this makes me feel SO Guilty for identifying with your post about toddler nursing. How can I possibly be exhausted, tired, over it. How do I have the audacity to snap at my son and tell him I don’t WANT to nurse him when this mother would do ANYTHING to be nursing her child right now. I know it is irrational but that is how I feel about me right now. I am just SICK about this situation with Alma and her momma. It is so wrong wrong wrong wrong 🙁

  8. marisa arjones says:

    Thank you for expressing so beautifully what thousands of women around the world are thinking. With Everyone’s effort, this nightmare will end soon!

  9. Beautiful! I think it’s exactly what me and other 13,000 people around the web (at least) feel about Alma and Habiba. Thank you so much, we all pray, sing, breastfeed, hugh our sweet babys in their name.

  10. amymommy says:

    Jessica,

    Great and beautiful post! Thank you for writing this. This is my favorite part: “She didn’t leave you Alma. She’s hurting too. She’s fighting for you. How do I know this? Because even though we pray differently, even though my skin is a different color, even though there is a different language on my tongue, even though my clothes are a different style, when it comes to loving you, I know your mothers heart. It’s like my own.”

    I don’t know if you have the link to Jodine Chase’s blog on Habiba, it is absolutely beautiful as well. Here: http://jodinesworld.blogspot.com/2011/06/we-are-all-habiba.html?spref=fb

  11. noelia valdez says:

    great I going to work on the translation with my hubby he has a great good gramma in spanish and then a what e-mail can I send it to you?

  12. noelia valdez says:

    I’m going to work on the translation and I hope have it ready by tomorrow, but even is the same spanish in spain is a little diferent. But my aunt is from barselona she not speak english but after I traslate in spanish she can change the little words that in spain are diferent. then I going to e-mail it to you and may be you can faxed or send it to them. what e-mail is best for me to send it?

  13. ok may be is going to take a little longer because I still crying when I read it

  14. Beautiful post, straight from the heart. Brought me to tears. May Alma be reunited with her mom very soon!!

  15. Jill Meyer says:

    All I can say is thank you for putting into words what sooo many of us feel.

  16. Translation in progress….. Spanish is my native tongue, I can email it to you when I’m done. Let me know where to send it.
    Your words have brought tears to my eyes, they’re so honest, like everything else you write.

  17. What a beautiful post. 🙂

    • Annie, thank you. I’m honored it touched you. Thank you for all you’ve done to help raise awareness of Habiba’s and Alma’s plight. ~Jessica

  18. Natacha Dority says:

    I am sobbing and spiritually connecting to this mama and baby in a way that is very hard to describe. I loved the way you described the pain you feel when you try and imagine your baby being gone from your arms and feeling the loss in a way she is not able to comprehend. This was such a tear jerking letter but so speaks my heart when I think of their situation. Thankyou for writing this and honoring the baby and Mama with such love and compassion. I in turn honor you for the amazing woman and kind soul you have.

  19. Jeemaa Kauffman says:

    Jessica,
    So beautifully written – right from your heart! I am so glad that the letter is going to be translated!!!! ~Jeemaa

  20. Blakely Scearce says:

    They’re back together! Please please share the news!
    http://www.care2.com/causes/mother-and-baby-reunited-in-spain.html