I thought I’d found my son’s mother.

She had the right name. She was about the right age. She was born in his country. And she looked like him. I enlarged the photos of her on Facebook, studied her face. She was stocky like him, almost barrel-chested. She had a full proud face that looked like his, the melding of Indian and European that is Nicaraguan. I want to say she was the spitting image but it minimizes what I thought. I looked at her face and I thought, good Lord, I found her. In her profile picture, she was standing in front of a restaurant in Los Angeles, dressed up with a nice skirt and heels. She looked pretty. Oh, good, I thought. I was glad my son’s mother was pretty.

“I think I found his mother,” I told my husband. He was reading the paper in his chair, the one opposite my chair. He put his paper down and came to look at the photos.

“Yeah, that really does look like him. Plus she’s in L.A. We could drive out there.” That’s my husband’s trademark response. Mention something happening somewhere in the continental U.S. and he wants to drive there.

I sent her a Facebook message. There was no response. I figured it was probably because I wrote to her in English so I asked my friend, Christina, to write a better message in Spanish. The message included details about my son, when and where he was born, where he had been left, and what he was like now. I told Christina to tell her that he grew up to be a good person. I wanted his mother to know that he was very handsome, that he was kind and funny, and that we loved him very much. I wanted her to know that we had taken good care of him. We had done a good job, she would be proud of him. All of this went into the Facebook message Christina wrote but, because it was in Spanish, I didn’t know exactly how she said it. It might have been matter of fact or heart-rending. I don’t know. I didn’t ask.

There was no answer for a long while, maybe a month or more. While I waited, I created a whole narrative in my head about her life that involved her not wanting to own up to having left him 24 years ago when he was an infant, even though I was glad she had, if that makes any sense. I figured I’d found his mother, solved a big, lifelong riddle, but she didn’t want anything to do with him. That made me glad I hadn’t told him about my Facebook find.

And then one day, her reply appeared on my screen. It was in Spanish.

Christina translated. The gist of the message was that she did, in fact, have a son almost exactly the same age but he lived in Los Angeles with her. She was very glad that the boy we thought was her son had been adopted by such wonderful people (us). She said she regretted that she couldn’t make us happy by telling us she was his mother. She said she was very, very sorry. And then she blessed us over and over again.

Oh well, I thought. I tried. There are other women with the same name, maybe one of them is my son’s mother. So I told my son all of this – that I thought I’d found his mother and then told him about the message that she’d sent. It seemed to me that he would want to carry on the search but instead he looked at me funny, kind of shrugged, and said, “I’m not sure I’m all that interested.”

It occurred to me then that it wasn’t my job to find her. It was his life and his search. And I needed to leave it alone. Not my riddle to solve.

And then the woman I thought was my son’s mother friended me on Facebook. So I see her celebrate Christmas and her birthday. I see her greetings in Spanish to relatives. Once she even liked something that I posted but I don’t remember what it was. She seems like a very nice person. I can say that. This woman who isn’t my son’s mother seems very nice.