The first time I heard of Birth Mother’s Day, I was excited. Mother’s Day was hard for me since I had placed my son for adoption. No one sent me flowers or chocolates or made me a card to celebrate that I had indeed brought a child into the world. It was as if I had never been a mother. The idea that someone in my position had a day was thrilling, and I couldn’t wait to celebrate and be celebrated.

Birth Mother’s Day quickly became a source of pain for me, however, when a speaker at an adoption conference I attended suggested that birth mothers ought to stay out of their biological children’s lives. That we were not mothers.

Driving home that night, emotions flooded my heart. How could I not be a mother? I had nurtured my son in my womb, like a mother does. I had rocked him to sleep, dreamed about him, worried about him, and loved him with the deepest love only a parent can fully comprehend.

The simple truth is that the speaker at that conference was wrong. I am a mother. Just like adoptive mothers are mothers. We are mothers.

Nevertheless, I didn’t celebrate right away.

I decided to forgo Birth Mother’s Day because as I felt forced into a box that wasn’t quite motherhood. I hoped and waited for the adoptive family I placed my child with to celebrate me on Mother’s Day too, but I never received anything. Late one Mother’s Day evening, I sat on my deck, glass of wine in hand, and cried silently. Could there ever be a place for me in the realm of motherhood?

Adoptive mothers and birth mothers—we’re each just a different version of a mother. We are mothers together, and neither of us can cancel out the role or importance of our impact in our children’s lives. Our children feel the impact when we seek to diminish or separate from one another. They are left struggling to understand the prospect of having two mothers who don’t seem to recognize each other as mothers.

I’ve made peace with Birth Mother’s Day. I think the pain that plagued me on this day stemmed from me not voicing this simple truth: I am a birth mother, but I was a mother first.

So, I will always be both, and I will always celebrate both.