Birth Mother’s Day was created by Mary Jane Wolch-Marsh and shared with other birth mothers in Seattle in 1990, to help with healing from the loss of children placed for adoption. It is observed on the Saturday before Mother’s Day. This year, Birth Mother’s Day would be May 11, and Mother’s Day, May 12.
Is it on your calendar? A complicated, welcomed, loathed, non-Hallmark kind of day. However, there indeed are cards for it, some astonishing in their insensitivity. There are cards against it.
Controversy abounds around it. Start with the designation of “birth mother,” and find those who prefer “first mother” or “biological mother” or “natural mother” or “mother.”
Move on to the idea of a separate day: A rose by any other name is still a mother, and why should there be a distinct day? Alternatively, there are those who see it as a day to honor the realities of loss, grief, selflessness, coercion, courage, love that birth/first mothers may or may not feel.
If one does observe it, how so? Rituals? Cards? Flowers? Photos? Jewelry? So much depends on the relationship, the communication, the connections between the first family and the adoptive family, including of course the adopted child (teen, adult).
And Happy Birth Mother’s Day? Some birth mothers note that Mother’s Day is almost as painful as is their child’s birthday.
Here’s one take on it from a birth mother’s perspective: “Birthmother’s Day Created Out of Love or Just More Adoption Propaganda?”
Here’s one from an adoptee: “Birthmother’s Day and Mother’s Day” One quote: “In my reconnection with my birth family, I’ve been fortunate to find myself in the midst of communicators…We have taken a moment to communicate with each other, to say with love some of the difficult truths.”
To me, the bottom line is the value of acknowledging that adopted children indeed had/have a mother before their adoption. The acknowledgement can take many forms. From loss comes healing, with luck, and love: We are all in this together. I believe in adoption, if it is done transparently, equitably, and with integrity. I believe that doing so is possible, and I know it’s complex. I have no magic words.
Here’s a post I put on the Facebook Adoptive Families page Sunday May 5, in response to a post that negatively portrayed birth mothers:
Thank you for this.. and much thanks for taking the time and heart to understand the complexities of being a birthmother.
But the greatest thanks for sharing what you have learned to other adoptive parents.
Your words mean a great deal to me, Claudia. Thank you very much.
Maureen, at our house the kids’ mothers are called just that. Mothers.
Thanks for your thoughts on a day that I have very mixed feelings about. At this point I am more comfortable “sharing” Mother’s Day. We’ll see how the kids feel over time.