Whether you have a closed, semi-open, or open adoption, implementing your child’s birth mother into his or her life is important. Not only does it create a sense of belonging and normalcy for your child, but it also honors the birth mother’s sacrifice of parenting and the love she holds so dearly for her child. Being a birth mother is one of the hardest roles a woman may ever have to take on. While many see her as a hero, she is simply a woman who loves her child so much that she made a hard decision in an overwhelming time of her life, hoping it was the right one. This Mother’s Day, let’s honor these women in some simple, but impactful ways.
Connect with Her
I have spoken on many panels with adoptive parent audiences, and the biggest concern is always about open adoption and the degree to which it’s necessary or appropriate. The truth is, we all fear what we don’t know. And some fear lack of control. With open adoption, it’s hard to know what life will look like in a few months, years, or decades. I get asked a few questions often.
How does a family embrace someone who is in crisis?
Honestly, it’s not uncommon for a birth mother to come from a crisis situation. Do they always? Not at all, but there are times when a situation is harder to relate to or show empathy toward. No matter the story, she is worthy of connection and worthy of knowing her child. You have an awesome opportunity to extend grace and love to her through this season.
I always remind others that we all make mistakes or decisions that might not have been in our best interest. But that doesn’t change our worth to those who love us. Being honest with your child about their birth mother’s situation in appropriate ways can be helpful for the adoptee to process over time and not have a shocking revelation to work through in later years.
I am a birth mother, but I am also an adoptee. When I met my birth mother, I learned that she had been an addict and criminal most of my life. I had a very hard time processing how I felt about her or the situation. In fact, it took me three years to sort out how I felt. Ultimately, I love her because she gave me a great life. I am thankful and I empathize with her pain. I know that she has grieved me in unhealthy ways over the years and it’s evident that she did not have support.
When talking with your child about a birth mom who is in crisis, be honest that she is struggling, but that your family still loves her, and share how you are supporting her through this time of life (because I hope that you will do that). Maybe that looks like updates through letters, emails, or phone calls. Or maybe you’ve even helped find her therapy or a support group. No matter how long the season lasts, your child will see that the line of communication stays open in some form, that you care about the birth mother’s wellbeing, and that you cling to hope that she will find peace and healing. Doing these things for not only your child, but the birth mother matters. No matter her situation, there are always ways to appropriately connect with her and share about her child.
How do they know she will not come and find them to take the baby back?
This is straight out of TV world. Adoption is final. It is so final that when a birth mother signs the relinquishment papers, that memory may be forever etched in her brain with every single detail because it is so painful. She cannot take her baby back and while regret is common among birth mothers, they typically just wonder if they made the right decision in the first place. Most birth mothers ultimately just want their child to thrive. So honor her with an open mind and extend trust to know her intentionally through a relationship with her child.
Why does open adoption matter?
Pregnant and have questions? We can help answer your questions by telling us what works best for you.
Birth mothers deserve to know their children. And guess what? Your child deserves to know her, too. Identity is one of the most disruptive challenges an adoptee can face. Allowing your child to know his or her birth mother gives the opportunity to see through her actions, words, and intentional efforts that he or she is loved, a priority to Birth Mom, and that she desires to know that child.
My children have a very close relationship with me and I can see the difference in their story versus mine as an adoptee. My kids will never have to wonder if they are loved, who they are, or if I placed them because I did not want to be their mom. They know the answers to all of that because I show up in their lives and make them a priority. As an adoptee, I didn’t even know simple things about my birth mother like her hair color, her favorite color, or her talents. I wondered for years about the simple things and the big things. It was hard on me to have to pep talk myself into believing I was so loved that she let someone else raise me or that I mattered to her after that decision. Birth mothers love their kids and they matter to them. Allow her to show that to her child through an open adoption. Honor her love for your child. It matters.
Send Her Gifts
We’ve talked about why a connection with a birth mother is important regardless of her story, so let’s get to the fun stuff. How can you love on her? My love language is gifts. It’s how I feel loved and how I show my love for others. Mother’s Day is one of the main days that birth mothers feel isolated, unseen, and undeserving. While giving things seems simple or maybe not even enough, it’s a great action to take regardless. Plus, you can gift things and affirm their worth to you through words and actions. Here are a few gift ideas for the birth mom in your life:
- Photo session with their child
- Handmade gifts from their child
- Photo gifts like a photo book or blanket
- Experiences with their child like a gift card for a zoo day
- Home delivered gifts like flowers or chocolates
- A card in the mail from their child
- Jewelry with a sentimental value like your child’s birthstone or three hearts to represent the bond you as a family share with her- birth parent, adoptee, and adoptive parents
- A video from your child saying “Happy Mother’s Day”
- A simple text from you sharing that you honor her as a mother this Mother’s Day
Call Her a Mother
Gifts are great, but the biggest impact that you can make this Mother’s Day is to remind your child’s birth mom that she is a mother—that you value her and see her as an incredible and brave mama. Many birth mothers feel so isolated on Mother’s Day because they feel that they are not seen as mothers. We aren’t raising a child, or even if we are, the child we placed for adoption is not with us, so people don’t acknowledge that we are a mother to them. We are told “They are not your child. You aren’t raising them” or “You don’t deserve to be celebrated on Mother’s Day, that’s the adoptive mother’s day because she’s their mom.” These comments just continue to reinforce the shame and lies that we are not worthy of motherhood. We carry that into our futures and worry about parenting down the road. Will we be worthy of parenting that child? Will our child we placed for adoption resent us for keeping a baby years down the road? Will we even be good mothers? The vicious cycle has to stop.
We have the opportunity to empower and love (birth) mothers as people in their children’s lives. We get to remind them that they are worthy of motherhood and being celebrated on Mother’s Day. They get that honor. I hope this Mother’s Day you remind birth mothers exactly that. They are so worthy of motherhood and being celebrated on Mother’s Day weekend and all year round.