Coping With Mother’s Day Grief When You’re Waiting to Adopt

by | May 1, 2024 | Adoptive Families Blog

Husband comforts his crying wife as she faces Mother's Day griefMother’s Day…two words that can bring joy, pain, hope, and sadness. If you are a hopeful adoptive mom-in-waiting or a woman coping with infertility, Mother’s Day grief can be complicated. You may be wondering how to navigate celebrating the day with your mom or sister while your heart yearns to be a mother yourself.
When all you see are moms with their babies everywhere, it’s normal to wonder, “When will it be my turn?” It may just be necessary to take the time to reflect on your feelings before Sunday. And if you need to, let yourself unplug entirely on Sunday and avoid anything that would otherwise trigger you.
As I shared on my blog, when I was waiting to adopt, I dreaded the week leading up to every Mother’s Day. Depending on how long you’ve been waiting, you likely have at least one difficult Mother’s Day story to share.
Mother’s Day always reminded me of my losses and my perceived failures as a woman. On that day, I just wanted to put my head under my pillow and sleep it away. My life changed when we adopted our son. But I will never forget how it felt before he arrived.
The weeks leading up to Mother’s Day are filled with ads, signs in stores, and friends and family making plans. It can feel a little overwhelming to cope with all of your mixed emotions during this time. Here are some strategies to get you through.

Share Your Feelings

Remember that your emotions are not wrong or bad. Feeling sad or depressed when everyone else thinks you should be just fine doesn’t mean something is wrong with you. Your emotions are telling you something about the journey you are on. So allow those emotions to come. Acknowledge them for what they are.
Don’t hold all your feelings inside, and pretend to be happy and unaffected if you are sad. Talk to your spouse, a friend, or a family member. You may be surprised at how many people just don’t think about how women who want to be mothers face Mother’s Day grief. Once you share your feelings, you may find that it’s as if a light bulb goes on for those around you, and they will begin supporting you and being more sensitive to your feelings.


If you are attending a Mother’s Day party or event, prepare yourself. Some people won’t know your story and will ask questions like, “When are you having kids?” Even though their questions may sound rude, people usually don’t mean anything by them. They’re just trying to make small talk and be friendly.
Rather than getting offended, arm yourself with answers. Whether you choose to reply with a serious answer or come up with a humorous one, preparing ahead of time means that they won’t take you off-guard. Don’t let others dictate how you feel about yourself on this day.

Focus on the Future

If you are waiting for your adoption dreams to come true, don’t be afraid to picture that baby in your arms. Think about when you will get an adorable drawing for Mother’s Day from your child. Instead of dwelling on the negative, focus on the positive. Consider where you were at this time last year and how far you’ve come since then. Think about what you’ve achieved, no matter how small it may seem to you.
Take pride in your progress, whether it’s making the transition from infertility to adoption, finding an agency, completing your home study, or starting your online profile. Remind yourself that today and every day, you’re one step closer to reaching your goal and becoming a mother.
Your baby will come to you at just the right time. Make Mother’s Day special by celebrating the fact that you are a mother-to-be. The timeline may not be clear, but you know you are doing all you can to move towards motherhood.

Take Action

Just because you’re waiting to be chosen by a birth mother doesn’t mean you have to sit around and wait. Instead of getting stuck in a funk, use Mother’s Day as an incentive to move your adoption forward.
If you’ve been putting off taping your adoption video, commit to getting started on that. If your profile has been lying unfinished for the last few weeks, get it done. The next step in your adoption journey begins now. Empower yourself by taking charge of your future.

Avoid Uncomfortable Gatherings

If the thought of browsing for a Mother’s Day card fills you with dread or the sight of a pregnant woman makes you want to cry, take a time out. Minimize your time at stores and with family if it’s what you need. You could even outsource Mother’s Day-related tasks to your husband or a sibling.
Try not to feel guilty about it. Your mom and friends will understand. There are 364 other days to recognize the moms in your life. If the going gets tough this weekend, protect yourself and put yourself first.

Celebrate Yourself

Mother’s Day isn’t just about mothers; it’s about mothers-to-be, too, including you. Seeking an adoption isn’t for everyone, and it can be a hard road to go down. So celebrate yourself! Go away with your husband for the weekend, or treat yourself to a day at the spa. Do something that makes YOU feel special because you will be a mom one day!
Unlike infertility treatments, where you don’t have control over the result, adoption will enable you to become a mom — so long as you keep going. So don’t get down or give up. Use Mother’s Day as a sign of how far you’ve come and an opportunity to plan where you want to go next.

Coping With Mother’s Day Grief

There is no right or wrong way to deal with Mother’s Day. Do what feels good to you. If you want to stay home and see it as just another day, do that. If you want to be with friends and family and celebrate them, then do that. Try and look to the future with optimism and hope. Your day will come!
God has the perfect child for you, the perfect timing, and when we trust Him and put our burdens on Him, He will carry us through this difficult time of waiting and wanting.
How does Mother’s Day make you feel? How do you get over the blues while you’re waiting to adopt? What are some of the things you’ve done to move your adoption journey forward? Share your comments below.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on May 10, 2023, and has since been updated. 

Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P.

Written by Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P.

Founder of Lifetime Adoption, adoptive mom, adoption expert, and Certified Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P).

Since 1986, adoption expert Mardie Caldwell has been dedicated to bringing couples and birth parents together in order to fulfill their dreams.

“Many years ago, I was also searching for a child to adopt. We didn’t know where or how to get started. Through research, determination, and a prayer, our dream of a family became reality. I started with a plan, a notebook, assistance from a caring adoption consultant and a lot of hard work; this was my family I was building. We had a few heartaches along the way, but the pain of not having children was worse!

Within weeks we had three different birth mothers choose us. We were overwhelmed and delighted. Many unsettling events would take place before our adoption would be finalized, many months later. Little did I know that God was training and aligning me for the adoption work I now do today. It is my goal to share with our families the methods and plans which succeed and do not succeed. I believe adoption should be affordable and can be a wonderful “pregnancy” for the adoptive couple.

I have also been on both sides of infertility with the loss of seven pregnancies and then conceiving by new technology, giving birth to a healthy daughter. I have experienced first-hand the emotional pain of infertility and believe my experience allows me to serve your needs better.

It is my hope that for you, the prospective parents, your desire for a child will be fulfilled soon.”

Read More About Mardie Caldwell

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  1. Jen K.

    Thank you so much for sharing this and acknowledging the struggle of the waiting, the longing, and the complicated emotions surrounding this day. Each year Mother’s Day has become a day to sneak away, avoid church, grieve, press through and hope that next year will be “the year”- that I’ll be a mom, that we’ll be matched, that the longing will be fulfilled. But, until then we do wait in the “not yet”. Thanks for recognizing this and honoring it.

    • Lifetime Adoption

      Thank you for the feedback, Jen. We’re happy to hear this blog helped you!


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