Celebrating Birth Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is a unique day for celebrating in the adoption community. There are an estimated 6 million adoptees in the US alone, plus the millions elsewhere around the world. As an adoptee, I have two mothers, the one who parented me, and the one who placed me. In our extended and blended families, Mother’s Day can also include foster mothers, stepmothers, and other caregivers with whom we have a mother-child relationship. Mother’s Day is observed on the second Sunday of May, since the days of Ancient Greece. Birth Mother’s Day has been observed on the Saturday before Mother’s Day, since 1990 when it was first celebrated in Seattle. Birth Mother’s Day Mary Jean Wolch-Marsh first conceived the idea of Birth Mother’s Day as a result of her own adoption experience. She knew she was a mother, but didn’t feel recognized as such, either by those around her or by her daughter’s parents. Remembering the feelings she’d experienced at her daughter’s birth, feelings of triumph and euphoria, she used them to help in her own healing.

My Birth Mother’s Day brings acknowledgment and recognition to every birth mother who ever loved a child lost to adoption. May it honor and celebrate every mother who became childless after birthing a child, and was forgotten on Mother’s Day.
– Mary Jean Wolch-Marsh

Birth Mother’s Day, for birth mothers, can be a time to affirm joys and acknowledge the sorrow and grief that are a part of placing a child for adoption. It can also be a time to break the silence and release years of anguish or guilt. The purpose of Marsh’s Birth Mother’s Day ceremony is insight, affirmation, growth, and wisdom. Recognizing Birth Mothers Whether you choose to recognize your own, others’, or all birth mothers on Mother’s Day and/or Birth Mother’s Day, there are many different ways to do so, whether it’s celebrating or reminiscing:

Ceremonies Attend One. Birth Mother’s Day ceremonies may be organized by support groups, adoption agencies, and nonprofit organizations. Create One. You also have the option of planning a ceremony of your own. Mary Jean Wolch-Marsh has written a comprehensive Birth Mother’s Day Planner available through Amazon, to help organize a large or small event. Cards, Gifts, Activities

In My Families—Birth Mother’s Day has long been a topic of discussion on our forums, and opinions differ greatly as to whether Birth Mother’s Day should be observed or not. Whatever you do, make sure it fits your family. Honoring Mothers—While the uninformed may not have gotten the message, adoptive mothers are just as “real” as birth mothers and vice versa. To quote from Rita Laws’ Definitions of Four Adoption Terms, “Real parent: any parent who is not imaginary.” If we’re lucky enough to have both mothers in our lives, we’re celebrating Mother’s Day times 2 and that is a beautiful thing.




Are you considering placing a child for adoption? Not sure what to do next? First, know that you are not alone. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to speak to one of our Options Counselors to get compassionate, nonjudgmental support. We are here to assist you in any way we can.