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:

  •  I use the word “birthmother” here in this article,  since it seems to be generally understood as referring to a woman who gave birth to a child placed for adoption, many women prefer other words or phrases. A simple way to honor these women is to use the word or term they choose for themselves.
  • Many adoptees in open adoptions and adoptees who have reconnected with their birth mothers celebrate in personal ways with their birth families and adoptive families. They will exchange cards and gifts as part of both Birth Mother’s Day and Mother’s Day events.
  • Many celebrate just one day, Mother’s Day, without making a distinction.
  • Adoptees, their adoptive mothers, and birth mothers who have not reconnected or are in a closed adoption can also share in ceremonies to honor and remember the birth mother experience and the gift of life by celebrating in some way.

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

  • Write a poem or letter. A personal expression of your feelings will always be appreciated. If you are not reconnected, save what you write for a future time.
  • Send a card. Many adoption sites have cards, especially for the occasion.
  • Give a piece of birth mother jewelry. Using a birthstone or anniversary marker as a place to start, select something unique. Our adoption-related Specialty Shops offer adoption-related jewelry as do several other online adoption shops.
  • Send flowers. On our first Mother’s Day, after the reunion, my birth mom actually sent me flowers.
  • Plan a get-together.
  • Also, check all the shopping resources for books and other items.

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 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.