When you’re adopted, like I am, the world can be confusing in many ways. There are reminders all the time– birthdays, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day, to name just a few. My birthday and Mother’s Day are always within a week of each other, so there’s a double reminder for me every year in early May.

Then there’s the guilt. I should just be grateful that I was adopted by two loving parents. My parents have been there for me through thick and thin. There have been some really tough times over the years, and they have stuck by my side. There have been a lot of happy times, too. And I am grateful.

So what’s the guilt all about? The simple fact that I feel confused during these times of year sometimes makes me feel guilty. I have yearned over the course of my life for any information I could muster about my birth parents, whether I had any siblings out there, what my roots are. My parents have always been supportive and understanding of those desires, of my need to search for answers. Still, I worry sometimes that they could be hurt by it.

Over time, I have come to understand that it is normal to feel this way. Many adoptees are in the same boat I am. They just want to know. They want their questions answered. In many cases, they have been adopted by parents who love them unconditionally, like mine do, and they don’t want their natural desires to learn about their biological roots to cause any hurt.

So here we are again. It’s Mother’s Day, and I probably don’t tell my mom enough how much I love and appreciate her. Years have passed, and she has been there day in and day out. For over forty years. So has my dad, by the way, but it’s not Father’s Day yet, so he’ll have to wait for his kudos until then– although he deserves them just as much.

What is a mom, and what are we celebrating when we celebrate Mother’s Day? I guess the bottom line is it’s different for everyone. Each mom is special and unique in her own way. For some, it’s that they were the one to give birth. For others, it’s that they were there over the course of many years. That’s what it is for me.

My mom always did the best she could to make sure I grew up to have good values, treat people decently, and become self-sufficient. I had some tough times growing up, to be sure, and she didn’t always know about them. But at the end of the day, I felt secure enough in myself to get a college education, become independent, develop a successful career path, and enjoy a wonderful family life.

I’m not sure if I’d be where I am today without the hard work and devotion from both my parents. There are many times that I think I have taken that for granted over the years, but today, on this Mother’s Day, I’d like to say thank you, Mom, for all you’ve done for me over the years to help me to grow into the man I’ve become. Happy Mother’s Day. I love you.