When the second Sunday in May rolls around, people make a great deal of celebration about the women who are currently parenting children — whether those children are biological, adopted or conceived through assisted reproductive technology. But, there’s another group of women who often don’t receive the same praise and recognition — birth mothers.
Just because a woman is not raising the child she has given birth to doesn’t mean that she is any less of a mother. In fact, the women who choose to place their children for adoption are often the bravest kind of mothers — women who have made the selfless choice to give their child the best opportunities in life with another set of parents.
If you are an adoptive parent, you know how important your child’s birth mother’s decision was. After all, hers was the choice that led your child to you. However, knowing how to celebrate your child’s birth mother on Mother’s Day can be complicated, especially when you’ve waited so long to celebrate this day yourself. While Birth Mother’s Day is traditionally celebrated the first Saturday in May, you can also make your child’s birth mother an important part of Mother’s Day, as well.
Remember, every adoption is different, and only you will know what is best for your child, your family and your adoption relationship. Below, find a few suggestions for acknowledging your child’s birth mother on this important day.
If You Have an Open Adoption
If you have an open adoption, your child likely has a personal relationship with their birth mother. Whether that’s through in-person visits, texts or emails, they are able to communicate with their birth mother — who may have a more active role in their life than birth mothers in more closed adoptions. Therefore, your child’s celebration of their birth mother may be more personal, as well.
Depending on every party’s comfort level, you may consider these ideas:
- Sharing a phone or video-call conversation
- Sending an email or text
- Sending a handmade card from your child
- Putting together a small gift basket or choosing a flower arrangement
Whatever you and your child decide to do, make sure that your appreciation is from the heart. Mother’s Day is difficult for many birth mothers, no matter their satisfaction with their adoption, and taking the time to make her feel heard will help her through any challenging emotions she has.
Children in open adoptions understand the different roles their adoptive mothers and birth mothers play in their life. Don’t hesitate to celebrate their birth mothers for fear they will be confused about these roles. Even children adopted at an older age from foster care reserve different roles and emotions for the two mothers in their lives.
If You Have a Semi-Open Adoption
If you have a mediated adoption relationship, it may be a bit more difficult to directly acknowledge your child’s birth mother — but that doesn’t mean you should forget this step. Work with your agency to send a special photo and letter package for Mother’s Day, or consider sending a small gift or bouquet of flowers through your agency, if possible.
Your child may naturally have an increase in questions about their birth mother as they prepare for Mother’s Day at their school and other extracurricular activities. Whether or not you can answer their questions with the information you have, make sure to address their queries in a positive way. Answer what you can and be honest about those questions you can’t answer. No matter what, make sure you express your appreciation and love for your child’s birth mother and remind your child to do the same.
If You Have a Closed Adoption
Even if you have little information about your child’s birth mother (or the information you have could put your child at risk), make sure you talk about her in a positive way. Whatever situation your child’s birth mother was in that made her choose this path or caused the authorities to place your child in foster care, your child did end up in the best situation possible for them.
Again, help your child understand that their birth mother loved them very much, no matter what led to their adoption. Even if you cannot directly express your appreciation to the birth mother, consider celebrating her in other ways, like:
- Having your child write a letter to express their emotions, even if their birth mother will never see it
- Planting a tree or flowers
- Giving back to local charities
- Revisiting your child’s adoption story
- Saying a special prayer or wish
Remember, whatever you do to celebrate your child’s birth mother on Mother’s Day, it is quite literally the thought that counts. It’s not parenting or genetic connection that makes a mother; it’s love, which birth mothers (as well as adoptive mothers) have plenty of, regardless of their situation. They are an important part of your child’s history and identity and deserve just as much recognition as any other woman on this special day.