There are so many things that trend on the internet these days, and I’m always glad when something beautiful goes viral. One hashtag that has made its mark in the world of social media is #wearemothers. Mothers from all walks of life with various lived experiences share their stories from Twitter to Instagram. They are biological mothers, mothers by adoption, birth mothers, and those who have lost children.
What Does #Wearemothers Mean? Understanding from Social Media Posts
#Wearemothers means so many different things to so many different people. When you search the hashtag on Instagram, you’ll be flooded with beautiful photographs of people who are mothers and who are sharing their stories about their journey to become mothers, their struggles and triumphs as parents, and of course, pictures with their adorable children. You’ll also see birth mothers, who have made an adoption plan for their children, foster mothers who are temporary parents to so many children, and women who miscarried or lost their children. All of these women have one thing in common: they are all mothers.
What #WeareMothers Means to Me: My Story
I have used the hashtag #wearemothers and #weareallmothers in my own social media posts in the past. You see, being a mom through adoption can be a tough area to navigate. I know there are much harder things in life than having the amazing opportunity to be my daughter’s mother, but many people don’t understand how others feel when they speak. It was in a group for moms near my home that I first recognized I might not be welcome by those who gave birth to their children.
In a group setting a mom told me that I couldn’t understand what they were discussing because I wasn’t a “real mom.” Maybe I don’t have the experience of breastfeeding or of carrying a child for nine months, but I do have many similar experiences. Like the other mothers I was with that day, I had longed for a child and had to wait for the opportunity to be a mother. I was exhausted. I was up late at night with a baby and up very early. I was constantly moments away from being covered in spit-up. I loved my child with everything I had.
Did I understand every single thing that they went through? I absolutely didn’t. But they also didn’t understand everything I had been through, and that didn’t make any of us less of a “real mom”.
If you’d like to know more from another mother-by-adoption’s perspective, check out Ramblings of a Mother.
#WeareMothers: A Birth Mother’s Story
Laura Heintz describes herself as a woman, a Christian, and a birth mother. She has a really powerful story about being a birth mother and how that relates to motherhood.
“People always talk about that indescribable love they feel when the meet their child for the first time. That love is so very real. I remember the moment I held my son for the first time and the overwhelming sense that I would do whatever I could to protect him and give him everything within my power,” says Laura.
“Over the course of my pregnancy, I wrestled with the decision of whether or not to place my child for adoption. I met with a counselor to discuss my various options and what those choices would look like. I spent many sleepless, tear-filled nights trying to decide what to do. I finally felt that adoption would be a good fit for me and my child, but I was not 100% decided. I asked my counselor to look at different families who were wanting to adopt. After looking at various families I found one that I thought I would like to meet and discuss placing my child with them. Unfortunately (at the time), the family I wanted to meet had already chosen to adopt a baby in a different state, so they were no longer available for my child. I was devastated. I had finally (mostly) decided to move forward with adoption and now the one family I liked was unavailable. It really made me stop and think about whether I was making the correct choice.
A few weeks went past, and my counselor brought out a new family profile that had come in. She said I was welcome to read their profile, but she hadn’t gotten their book put together yet, as they were new applicants. I flipped through the pages and read over their application. Something seemed to click in to place, but I still wasn’t sure how I was going to proceed. I asked to meet this potential family to see how things would go. Prior to meeting them, I compiled several pages of hard questions. I wanted to know how they felt about everything from finances to education to tattoos to Jesus.”
Laura remembers clearly meeting the family for the first time, and it is an important memory to her as part of the process. Going into labor, Laura notes that she wasn’t worried or anxious. “I only knew that I loved my baby and that I was doing my best to keep him healthy and safe in my womb and would continue do so after he was born.”
“The rest of the day was a blur of medical staff, pain, and tears, but oh such joy! Tears fell down my cheeks when they placed my sweet, baby boy in my arms. He was absolutely perfect, and I was in love. Prior to his birth, I had chosen to have the adoptive parents at the hospital for this eventful occasion. I wanted them to be able to bond with their son as quickly as possible. It was especially important to me that my baby boy felt a connection with his mom and dad and vice versa. So, after he was born, they took him down to the nursery and helped with his first bath and all his care.”
“Those next 36 hours were some of the most wonderful and most difficult hours of my life. You see, in Illinois, a birth mother can not sign any type of adoption paperwork until 36 hours after the birth of her child. I am sure those days were difficult for the adoptive parents as well, as they didn’t know if I would change my mind or go forward as planned. The morning we met to sign paperwork, the adoptive father prayed over all of us and the baby and read a passage of scripture. While my heart was breaking, I also was 100% confident that I had chosen the right family to raise my child. They were already a beautiful family, and my baby was surround by more love than he could have known. After the adoption was signed, we all went our separate ways. I had chosen an open adoption but knew I would need some time to heal before I saw my son again. After carrying him in my belly for months, it was going to be extremely hard to not see him every day or to be able to talk to him every day. I would miss him so much more than I could even fathom at that point.”
It has been nine years since Laura made the decision to create an adoption plan for her son. Her son is growing, thriving, and she notes that he has an amazing mother, father, and siblings who love him so much. “His family has adopted me and my family into their own and I get to see them all frequently.”
How does Laura feel about #wearemothers? “Somedays I think yes [I am a mother] and sometimes, I think no. This is something I’ve wrestled with over the years. Maybe not in the “normal” sense of the word, but completely in the sense that I made the hardest decision I have ever made solely for the benefit of my baby. I am a birth mother.”
#WeareMothers: Adoptive Moms and Their Perspective
As birth mothers may grapple with the term “mother” and explore their own relationship with motherhood, adoptive mothers often have the same thoughts.
Becky Fawcett, who is the co-founder of helpusadopt.org and built her family by adopting her daughters, notes that this is a difficult topic. She says that there seems to be a competition when she hears this hashtag about who identifies as a mother.
“We ARE all mothers—all playing different roles in the lives of the children,” says Becky.
“I do agree that some think mom’s by adoption aren’t REAL and that drives me nuts. Someone once publicly called me out in a Facebook mom’s group and said “Don’t worry, even though you didn’t give birth we still consider you a mother.” I will never forget it. What does REAL mean when referring to a parent or to anyone for that matter? A real person? I am very real. My children’s birth mothers are very real. I am only here because of them and together we are motherhood and together we love these kids and live in a world of motherhood undefined–that should be our hashtag.”
Amanda Tellman, who also adopted a daughter, notes that she has been extremely fortunate to escape conversations and encounters where another mother made her feel less than.
“That being said, after having our youngest biologically, it did bring up a handful of questions from our oldest about why she did not grow in my tummy and why her sister did. This past year, we have spent many hours showing appreciation for our daughter’s birth mother, celebrating her and the difficult decision she made. We have had many Facetime calls with her and her other children. It has helped me grow and appreciate the bond that my oldest has with her biological family. Her birth mother and I share a special bond and both love and appreciate the roles we each play in our daughter’s life. When I was pregnant, my largest fear was that the new addition to our family would change the relationship/bond I had with my oldest. It was quite the opposite. The misconception that if you adopt, you may not experience the true love a mother would have if she had her “own” children is incredibly inaccurate. My journey to Motherhood is a unique one, but one I would not change a thing about. My oldest joined our family through the blessing and heartache of an adoption plan, but through the pain, we have added her birth family to our family tree. I am certainly blessed beyond measure.”
You might not have heard stories where individuals not be accepted as mothers because they haven’t given birth to a child. You can read more about this and how a mother by adoption was told that she wasn’t a real mother on the internet.
If you’re not sure what the adoption triad is, or want more information, make sure to learn about these individuals here.
Social Media and Motherhood: What Is Trending?
Mother’s Day is of course all over social media thanks to companies pushing products and, more importantly, people redefining motherhood and who is to be celebrated. Looking at popular platforms like Instagram and Twitter will illuminate this conversation. Being a mother can mean so many different things to so many different people, and all of these definitions are important and valid.
Not only do biological mothers and grandparents deserve this attention, but legal guardians, foster parents, birth mothers, those who lost children, those who built their families through adoption, etc. deserve to be recognized for being mothers and, above all, deserve to be celebrated. Being a mother is a wonderful thing, but it also comes with its hardships. No matter how you became a mother, what part you play in raising a child, or if you helped another woman become a mother, #wearemothers.