With all the attention surrounding Mother’s Day, May can be a complicated month for birth mothers. Sometimes, it can sneak up on you in unexpected ways. It could be all the Mother’s Day-themed emails from companies, the minister who asks the mothers to stand for a round of applause during church service, or the endless ads promoting special gifts to honor moms on Mother’s Day.
Anything related to Mother’s Day can bring on mixed emotions for birth mothers. These feelings can range from bittersweet gratitude to loss and sadness. There is no correct way to feel. There is no designated timeframe or method for how to move forward. But you can remind yourself of these important truths:
You are a mother – your child’s first mother.
You are the reason for another family’s happiness.
You deserve to be acknowledged and celebrated.
There is a day of honor, especially for you: Birth Mother’s Day.
Birth Mother’s Day was created in 1990 to recognize you and all birth mothers for their loving sacrifice and special role in their child’s life. It began as an act of solidarity among birth mothers to show support and understanding of each other’s experiences. Celebrated on the Saturday before Mother’s Day, it is a reminder that a birth mother is the reason another woman can call herself a mother.
Birth Mother’s Day also celebrates how adoption has progressed in such a positive way over the years. Improvements in open adoption have helped to remove old stereotypes about adoption and birth mothers. Birth mothers are not women who abandon their children. Birth mothers are strong, selfless women who chose to turn their difficult situation into another family’s blessing. Birth mothers span a wide range of age, race, religion, and socioeconomic status. A birth mom gives her child roots as well as a bright future. She makes decisions in her child’s best interest.
Lifetime Adoption honors you on Birth Mother’s Day and every day. We are here to support you in any way you choose to approach this holiday. Here are some ways you can make Birth Mother’s Day what you need it to be:
1. Attend a Birth Mother’s Day event
A support group, adoption agency, or local organization may be planning a Birth Mother’s Day ceremony in your community. These are events about educating birth mothers, honoring each other’s pain and loss, and acknowledging your sacrifice. If there are no local events, you could participate online. Use #NationalBirthMothersDay to celebrate and share on social media.
Reminisce and journal about the day you gave birth. It may help to create a gratitude list to document all of the positivity that came from your decision to choose adoption.
Write a letter of love to your child, whether or not you ever send it. In the letter, you can share your feelings. Writing can allow you release your child into the adoptive parent’s home with trust, faith, and love. Many birth mothers have shared that writing this special letter helped them cope with mixed emotions after placement.
3. Embrace Your Grief
Just like any loss, anniversaries can trigger old feelings you have previously worked through, and you may start the grieving process all over again. Grieving again does not mean you regret your decision. Grief is part of healing.
Your emotions are not wrong or bad. Feeling depressed doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you. Don’t try to avoid your feelings as they surface. It can help to seek support if you feel overpowered by emotion. Contact Lifetime Adoption if you feel counseling would help. We may be able to connect you with licensed third-party counseling. You deserve to get the tools you need to move past difficult things so you can be the best you!
4. Create a Birth Mother’s Day Tradition
Your tradition could be a trip, treating yourself at the spa, taking a long hike on a beautiful trail, or preparing a favorite meal. Whether or not your tradition involves your child and the adoptive family, make it something you look forward to. You’ve made the ultimate sacrifice for your child’s future, so do whatever makes you feel happy and healthy on Birth Mother’s Day.
Planning something enjoyable can build positive feelings about this day and what it means to you. These positive feelings can help combat any anxiety you may feel as you approach Mother’s Day weekend each year.
5. Use Your Experience to Help Someone Else
There are birth mothers out there who feel lost and alone, especially approaching Mother’s Day weekend. Who better to provide support and understanding than someone who has walked in their shoes? Become a mentor to another birth mother or help organize a Birth Mother’s Day event.
In this YouTube Short, you’ll see three birth mothers reflecting about Birth Mother’s Day. These mothers chose adoption, not giving their babies away but by making a loving plan where all of their needs could be provided for.
You may also choose not to celebrate Birth Mother’s Day at all. Maybe you prefer to be recognized on Mother’s Day. Perhaps you want to spend this weekend alone or with other women who know what you have been through. Birth Mother’s Day is meant to be whatever you need it to be. Be honest with the people in your life about your preferences. You deserve to spend this day in a way that is most healing for you.
Whether you celebrate Birth Mother’s Day, recognize it silently, or decide not to acknowledge it at all, you are still a mother, and you matter. At Lifetime Adoption, we celebrate you this Birth Mother’s Day and pray for your healing and lifelong happiness.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on May 1, 2020, and has since been updated.
Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P., is nationally recognized as an expert on open adoption. A Certiﬁed Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P.), Caldwell is the founder of Lifetime Adoption Center, established in 1986. She has assisted in over 2,000 successful adoptions and was one of the ﬁrst adoption professionals on the Internet.
Caldwell’s life work is dedicated to educating and helping birth parents find the right adoptive parents for their child. She spreads the word about modern adoption through speaking appearances, webinars, online resources, and as a podcast show host.
She has written several award-winning books, including So I Was Thinking About Adoption, the first book of its kind. There are many reasons women choose adoption, and this short book is a comprehensive resource to make the best plan for you and your baby. Caldwell wrote So I Was Thinking About Adoption as a handy guide to the details of the adoption process.
Caldwell has made over 150 media appearances, including ABC News, CBS News, Larry King Live, CNN Headline News, NBC’s The Today Show, CNN’s The Campbell Brown Show, NBC News, KGO Newstalk Radio, CNN’s Black in America II, MSNBC, Fox, PBS, BBC, and Dr. Laura.