For many birth mothers, Mother’s Day is a day fraught with emotions. With so many blogs and ads celebrating mothers currently raising children, many birth mothers understandably feel forgotten — as if their motherhood doesn’t matter.
But one birth mother is out to change all that.
Kelsey Vander Vliet runs “From Anotha Motha,” a support blog for birth mothers across the country. For the second year in a row, she is helming her “Motha’s Day” campaign — a project designed to get a Mother’s Day card to every birth mother in the U.S. who wants one.
Kelsey, who placed her son for adoption in 2016, found herself struggling with grief on her first Mother’s Day in 2017. No one except her mother told her “Happy Mother’s Day,” and she says she remembers feeling “invisible.” Her son’s birthday being the same week only compounded her emotions.
In talking to other birth mothers for support, Kelsey found many of them felt the same way.
“I thought, ‘How cool would it be if everyone saw us as mothers instead of birth moms on Mother’s Day?’” she remembers.
And, thus, the Motha’s Day campaign was born.
How the Project Works
The Motha’s Day project is fairly simple. Birth mothers can sign up for a card at any time. Those wishing to send a card to birth mothers should follow these instructions:
Step 1: Buy or make a Mother’s Day card.
Step 2: Write a sweet note inside for a birth mom. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or Pulitzer-Prize-worthy — just something to remind her of her motherhood on Mother’s Day.
Step 3: Put your card in an unsealed envelope, and send in another envelope. Kelsey’s team reads each card before sending, so they request you do not seal your cards. Place the envelope in another envelope and send to the following address:
From Anotha Motha
P.O. Box 4077
Mission Viejo, CA 92690
Step 4: Make sure to include an extra stamp so the team can send your card.
Step 5: Take a picture of your card, show it off on social media, and hashtag #MothasDay2019.
Cards should not include a personal brand or logo, and they should be specifically Mother’s Day cards (not Birth Mother’s Day or any other variation). Well-wishers can send as many cards as they desire. Remember: For safety, Kelsey and her team will review each card and repackage it to send along to birth mothers who have signed up.
Birth mothers who wish to receive a Mother’s Day card can sign up on Kelsey’s website. Any well-wisher sending a card must make sure their card is mailed by May 1 to allow Kelsey’s team to distribute it in time for Mother’s Day.
Last year, Kelsey and her team sent over 400 Mother’s Day cards. This year, the project already has 250 birth mothers signed up — and counting.
Why the Project Matters
When Kelsey announced a second year of the Motha’s Day project, birth mothers from the year before started to reach out. She saw exactly what impact her project already had.
“One that really stuck out to me was one woman, who had said it was her first time in 20 years that anyone had ever said, ‘Happy Mother’s Day,’ to her,” Kelsey says. “Some people are sending me pictures of their cards, saying, ‘I still have it on my desk,’ or, ‘I still have it up in my room.’ It was cool that they kept it; it meant a lot to them.”
As helpful as the Motha’s Day project has been to birth mothers, Kelsey has also seen an impact on card senders, as well.
“Although it started as thinking of birth moms on Mother’s Day… it’s beneficial for people who send the cards, too,” Kelsey says. “I have a lot of people who aren’t involved in adoption who are helping, and they’re learning — it’s changing the culture around adoption. It’s about acknowledging [women] as mothers, no matter what their choice was. Just because you place your child for adoption doesn’t exclude you from being a mom.”
Kelsey’s adoption work doesn’t start and end with her campaign and blog. She previously organized and ran a birth mother support group in Indianapolis. More recently, she moved to Southern California, where she works as a paralegal for an adoption law firm and will attend law school in the fall to become an adoption lawyer herself.
As much as she loves the role she’s taken on, Kelsey has found some support of her own in giving back to other birth moms.
“It’s therapeutic to have a community of people who understand what you’ve gone through,” Kelsey says. “Through my career and all this now, I have a ton of birth mom friends. It’s really comforting, and I hope that they feel the same.
“It helps to not go through it on your own, because there’s a whole lot of us out there.”