Motherhood is a journey of love, sacrifice, and boundless connection. It’s the profound experience of nurturing and guiding a child through life’s joys and challenges. It’s the embrace of responsibility, the celebration of milestones, and the unwavering support in times of need. But beyond biology, motherhood is also about the deep emotional bond that transcends bloodlines forged through care, compassion, and shared experiences. It’s a universal language of love spoken by hearts intertwined—especially those intertwined through adoption.

Birth mothers and adoptive mothers support each other in creating motherhood through empathy, understanding, and collaboration. They acknowledge and honor each other’s roles in the child’s life recognizing that both contribute to their well-being and growth.

Together, birth and adoptive mothers navigate the complexities of motherhood with mutual respect and shared commitment to the child’s best interests. They communicate openly, celebrate milestones together, and cultivate a relationship grounded in love and acceptance. In adoption, unity in motherhood is essential.

While open adoption relationships are not always possible, we can all come together to honor any and all mother figures in our lives who have joined in taking on the responsibility of raising, loving, and/or nurturing someone in their life. This Mother’s Day, we invite you to honor them: birth mothers, adoptive mothers, surrogate mothers, foster mothers, step mothers, single parents, guardian mothers, bonus mothers, caregivers, mothers through kinship adoption, and any other maternal figure you may embrace in your life. 

Join us in a conversation with an adoptive and birth mother exploring how adoption reshapes the concept of motherhood. Together, their story reveals the bond that bridges biological and chosen family, showing that in motherhood, there is unity.

Meet Emily and Alicia 

Emily, found herself drawn to adoption early on. When her then 2-year-old daughter was hospitalized, Emily began immersing herself in stories of international adoption during long hours of her daughter’s treatment and recovery. Inspired by one author’s story, Emily reached out to thank that author for sharing her inspiring experiences. Little did she know, that conversation would lead to her family’s first experience with international adoption. Soon they were welcoming their 6-year-old son home from the Philippines. Later, when another little boy from China needed a family, Emily’s children began praying not for someone else to adopt him, but for their own family to be able to bring that little boy home into their family. Sure enough, those prayers were answered as they joyfully welcomed the 3-year-old into their family of eight. 

Although Emily never got to meet her sons’ birth mothers, she strived to honor their past and culture. When she asked one of her sons his thoughts about his birth mother, he said, 

“I’d wanna give her a hug and tell her all the things she missed.”

Upon hearing about an expectant parent considering adoption in her community, Emily reached out to offer support and transparency about the adoption process. Despite her lack of contact with her sons’ birth parents, she was drawn to offer any help she could to a woman who now found herself in similar circumstances. With no intentions of adopting Alicia’s baby, Emily offered to sit down with Alicia to have an open conversation about adoption and answer any questions she had.

Entering that meeting, Alicia said “I was terrified, I was having a hard time facing everything. I just didn’t know what to do.” 

Emily sensed this unease and reassured Alicia, “You are in the driver’s seat” and “You get to make the decisions for your baby’s future. You get to decide what this looks like.” 

Before meeting with Emily, Alicia had made attempts to learn about her options for adoption. However, she soon became overwhelmed with the mountain of information. Despite so many online resources, she struggled to find a clear picture of what adoption could actually look like for her and her baby. What could she realistically expect? She said it all just felt intimidating and confusing. Even though she knew adoption was the path she had chosen, navigating the logistics during such a hectic time seemed impossible. 

Two days later, Alicia gave birth to Baby Henrietta. 

Although they hadn’t made an official adoption plan, Emily and her family became a major source of love and support for Alicia and Henrietta after the birth. They offered car rides, made hospital visits, and provided respite care while both Mom and Baby recovered through surgeries, NICU procedures, and recovery. After Henrietta left the NICU, she stayed with Emily’s family through Alicia’s recovery. 

Emily said before Henrietta was even born, “We had so much love for Alicia first, it was so natural.” 

Over the next 2 years, Emily’s kind gestures of opening her home turned into an unofficial open-adoption relationship. Alicia and Henrietta’s birth father, Dave, were welcomed into Emily’s home with open arms for Sunday night dinners and weekly babysitting. 

Emily said, “One of the most beautiful and unexpected parts is how much my kids love Dave and Alicia, they’re my kids’ family too” 

“I never feel like I’m missing anything,” says Alicia. 

Together, these women have found healing and happiness in discovering a new chapter of motherhood together. They rely on one another as a sounding board offering support and compassion during the hard days and together pour unconditional love into their unified family. 

What does Motherhood mean to you today?

Alicia: “It’s an honor and a privilege, it’s the most important thing. No one ever thought I’d have kids or that I would be the ‘mother-type.’ [Motherhood] changed the way I see things.”

Emily: “When Alicia felt like she was drowning in life, she summoned the force that only a mother could to keep going. Luckily, I was standing on the shore that day. To me, Motherhood means loving your children at whatever cost.”

How have you come together in Motherhood?

Emily: “There’s no competitiveness, I’m so happy to see how bonded Etta is to Alicia and Dave. I’m so happy they have that. 

Alicia: “There’s no jealousy, it’s like we’re sharing the most precious gift, and it’s an honor. I would’ve thought there’d be hostility [in open adoption], but there’s none of that. We’re rooting for each other. We’re the dream team.”

What would you say to adoptive parents who want to pursue this type of relationship in their own open adoptions?

Alicia: “Throw yourself in. I have zero regrets. It’s worth putting all of your insecurities aside…be transparent and vulnerable. It’s worth it.”

“There’s no such thing as too many people to love a baby”

Emily: “I think a lot of adoptive moms are intimidated by the forever connection with a birth mom and her baby. I would encourage anyone to lay that intimidation down. If she chose you, you choose her too.”

In speaking with Alicia and Emily, it’s so obvious what a profound role their faith has played in their approach to motherhood. Their shared hope for the good that follows the hard times and inspires genuine expressions of love for each other, their children, and their families. As I spoke with them, this love was so evident as they encouraged, reassured, and embraced one another. 

Nearly two years later, Emily and Alicia’s families are preparing to finalize Henrietta’s adoption and officially join their families through their precious daughter.

Adoption has challenged the concept of motherhood by expanding its definition beyond biology. It challenged the notion that motherhood is solely defined by genetic ties, highlighting instead the importance of love, care, and nurturing in forming maternal bonds. Adoption showcases that motherhood is not confined by birth, but rather, it’s a profound connection nurtured through choice, commitment, and shared experiences.

Adoption creates motherhood between birth and adoptive mothers by fostering a unique relationship built on mutual respect, understanding, and love for the child. It acknowledges the vital role each mother plays in the child’s life and celebrates the unity of purpose in providing a nurturing environment. Through open communication, empathy, and collaboration, birth and adoptive mothers forge a bond centered on the well-being and happiness of the child. Together, they embrace the essence of motherhood, sharing in the joys, challenges, and triumphs of parenting.

As we reflect on the diverse narratives of motherhood, one thing remains clear: motherhood is magnified in numbers. It’s about love, sacrifice, and being there for children whether you’re a birth mother, adoptive mother, surrogate, or foster parent. This Mother’s Day, let’s take an extra moment to all the incredible people who take on the role of mom in different ways: we see your strength, your kindness, and your commitment to shaping young lives. May your day be filled with joy and gratitude for the bond of motherhood that connects us all.