Spring is in the air! And in the Midwest, that is a big deal. Our winters are long, cold, and hard. Personally, I am a chronically cold person who loves warm weather. With spring in the air, and Easter passed us, Mother’s Day is next on the holiday lineup. As a mom of three, I look forward to going out to eat with my husband and kids for Mother’s Day. It usually means a day where I don’t have to cook or clean, and, as a stay-at-home, that is a treat! 

Mother’s Day doesn’t come without its complexities for us adoptees. I remember as a young teen celebrating the holiday with my adoptive mom, but at some point during the day, thinking of my birth mom. Where was she? Who was she? What was she doing? For a lot of adoptees, their adoption and their birth parents are often on their mind. We often feel as if we will offend our adoptive families if we bring up these feelings, so we just don’t. It’s a struggle we deal with in our day-to-day lives. 

Birth Mother’s Day is a relatively new concept for me, and it might be for you too. Although I was born in 1997, and Birth Mother’s Day was founded in 1990, I didn’t know about it until probably two years ago. Birth Mother’s Day was started by a birth mother. Mary Jean Wolch-Marsh started the holiday in order to honor and acknowledge birth mothers. The holiday was also an attempt to bring birth moms together through visibility and support.

As an adoptee, I think this national holiday is absolutely needed and wonderful. Birth mothers are often marginalized and ignored by society. The term “disenfranchised grief” represents how birth moms feel all too well. Disenfranchised grief is when someone loses something or someone, but the pain and grief of that loss is ignored by others. For a long time, birth mothers were told through both actions and words, “you won’t ever think about your baby again after placement”. As a mother of 3, I know that that notion is absolutely impossible and untrue. Thankfully, post-placement care for birth parents is now more commonplace than it used to be. 

So what do I do on Birth Mother’s Day? Well, not much. Let me give a little bit of context to my situation. I am a 26-year-old adoptee. I was placed for adoption as an infant by my birth mother. My birth mother was a young girl facing an unplanned pregnancy with her not-so-great boyfriend, my birth dad. She made the impossible but necessary decision to place me for adoption. She chose my adoptive parents, two people who had been married later in life and who had faced much loss through the struggle of fertility problems. I was raised in a closed adoption, and at the age of 23, I decided to reach out to my birth mom. We are now in a beautiful reunion, and she is very much a part of my life and my adoptive family’s lives. It is about as ideal as it gets in an adoption reunion, and I am often told that it looks like something out of a movie. I truly feel blessed by my circumstances. So do I celebrate Birth Mother’s Day? No.

I have two mothers. One who grew me, and one who raised me. Though their experience “mothering” me is drastically different from one another, they are both equally my mom. Growing up, my birth mother wasn’t really discussed on Mother’s Day, but I always thought of her. This wasn’t by any fault of my parents. They often brought up my birth mother and only sang her praises. I was told how sweet, pretty, and smart she was on a regular basis. Neither I, nor my parents knew of any such holiday called Birth Mother’s Day. I only ever knew of Mother’s Day. 

Three years ago in March, I met my birth mother. Although, I prefer to say “reunited” or “met again.” Just a few short weeks after our meeting, Mother’s Day came around. At this point I didn’t know anything about Birth Mother’s Day, so I sent my birth mother a gift on Mother’s Day. This was the first time I was able to acknowledge and celebrate her mothering of me on Mother’s Day. It was a very special thing to me. She even sent me a gift, a beautiful wind chime which is still out in my garden, as I am a mother to 3 beautiful little kids, her grandkids. I didn’t distinguish between birth mom or adoptive mom or just plain mom. I just celebrated all the mothers I have on the same day.

So what do I think of Birth Mother’s Day? I think it is absolutely 100 percent needed in our society. Society needs to acknowledge that birth mothers are mothers. They matter. They are loved. They are needed. I think this holiday is a fantastic way for adoptive families to bring up adoption in their homes. Imagine making an entire celebration out of Birth Mother’s Day for your adopted kids? Not all adoptions allow for full openness, like meetings, letters, and phone calls, but all adoptions allow for openness and transparency in conversation. Adoptees should feel comfortable coming to their adoptive parents and discussing their adoption experience. Adoption can weigh heavy on an adopted child, and having the support of their adoptive parents will only grow their relationship and make the family unit stronger. 

I hope all adoptive parents will take some time this Birth Mother’s Day, the Saturday before Mother’s Day, to acknowledge a birth mother in their life. Birth mothers made it possible for you, adoptive parents, to be parents. Light a candle in honor of your birth mom. Say a prayer for her with your child. Share a memory you have of her. Plant a tree in honor of her. And if it’s possible, call her, write her a card, send her a gift, or FaceTime her with your child. I hope we all are able to honor, acknowledge, and respect the birth moms in our lives this Birth Mother’s Day, and this Mother’s Day. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms in the triad.