Living in the Midwest, the winters are brutal. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy winter all the way up until January. Once the holidays are over, I am over it. Almost everyone around here eagerly waits for the snow and ice to melt and for warmer temps to come. It is finally that time of year! I think, fingers crossed, we have seen our last flake of snow for the season! The grass is growing, the lawn is filled with beautiful dandelions, and the bulbs I planted in the Fall are coming up! Tulips and daffodils are filling my garden, and the smell of the neighbors’ fresh-cut grass is filling my home as it is finally warm enough for the windows to be opened. I think spring is becoming my favorite season. Last week as we went on our nightly springtime walk, my husband asked me what I wanted for Mother’s Day. And to be honest, I haven’t thought about Mother’s Day yet this year. 

As a mom of three, Mother’s Day has been something that I have been blessed to partake in for the last 7 years. However, as an adoptee and a mom, Mother’s Day is a little complicated. I was adopted as an infant to a wonderful set of parents who had faced their fair share of infertility. My biological mother, is a young woman in a less-than-ideal situation. My biological father struggled with addiction. My birth mother made the impossible choice for me, and for her, and placed me for adoption. My adoption was more on the closed side of the spectrum. I didn’t know that I was an adopted child until I was nearly 10 years old. Adoption was a hushed subject in my house and in my family. 

Since growing up, I have gotten married, had three children, and built my dream house with my husband. After experiencing so many of life’s big events, I decided I would begin the process of search and reunion with my birth family. Thanks to my adoptive parents, I ended up contacting my biological mother over three years ago. We have been in a healthy and loving reunion ever since then. I am blessed to have a positive reunion experience. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for all people who were adopted. 

Mother’s Day can be a weird subject for me. I grew up in a Christian home with loving parents. We celebrated Mother’s Day every year— usually by going out to eat and buying Mom a tree or bush for the garden. Handmade cards and crafts for my mom were also part of the holiday in my younger years. And, although I experienced the typical American Mother’s Day celebration every year, I did not come from a typical motherhood journey. “Typically” a mother gets pregnant, grows a baby in her belly, gives birth, and then she becomes a mom. My mother didn’t have that experience. 

My mother faced infertility, miscarriage, and loss. She eventually, with my father, chose to pursue adoption as a means to grow their family. After a while of pursuing adoption, my parents were connected with my birth family and, eventually, I came home with them. But my mother didn’t waddle into the hospital, greatly pregnant, go into the labor room, and deliver me. She wasn’t wheeled out to her car with stitches, bruised from an IV with a tiny baby in her arms. Instead, she walked into a hospital, not pregnant, unaware of what kind of a situation she was meeting. She walked into a hospital room where a young, very tired, little girl, held a baby in her arms. She was the one who waddled in pregnant. She was the one with an IV in her arm, and stitches holding her together. But she wouldn’t be the one leaving with the baby. At some point in that hospital, an exchange was made. An exchange between two mothers. 

These two mothers are my mothers. And yes, I have two. And yes, I honor and respect both as my mom. One has the absence of growing me, and one has the absence of raising me, but they are both fully my mom. As my 6-year-old told his unassuming piano teacher the other day, “My mom has two moms. One mom who grew her in her belly, and one mom who took her home and took care of her.” Children understand and comprehend a lot more than we give them credit for. Oh, how I wish my adoptive parents would have given me a little more credit in my childhood. Based on my experience, I strongly urge adoptive parents to be open with their adopted children. Although it isn’t always possible to have an open adoption, in the sense that there are regular visits between families, there is always room to have open conversations with a child. Adoption has always been, and will always be part of my story.

As we approach Mother’s Day, I want to wish both of my moms a happy one. I celebrate my adoptive mom, who desperately longed to be a mother. And, by no wrongdoing of her own, couldn’t make it happen naturally. I celebrate my birth mother, who desperately wanted to protect me but had no means to do so unless she parted with me for the indefinite future. 

Mother’s Day isn’t simple in the adoption triad. Adoptive moms, I hope you will honor your child’s birth mom this Mother’s Day. It can be as simple as lighting a candle, saying a prayer, or coloring a picture with your child. They are the reason your child has all of their amazing attributes. Whether it’s their beautiful eyes, sweet smile, quick wit, athletic ability, or musical talent, thank their birth mom. Praise your child’s birth mother in front of them. It will only make them feel more loved and desired in your family. And as adoptive moms, I hope you are honored on Mother’s Day too! Both moms matter. Nurture and nature are equally as important in the life of an adoptee.