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Mother's Day and Birth Mother's Day


Ahhh, May. What a lovely time of year. The flowers are blooming and the skies are blue and sunshine is abound. It’s also the time of year that we honor our mothers. What is a mother? Merriam Webster defines a mother as “a female parent” but if you look at the thesaurus, you find terms like “tend”, “mind” and “raise” and “to take care of.” I actually prefer to follow the thesaurus because Sunday, May 15th, 2017 is not just about ladies who give birth and raise a child, but rather about any human being, male or female who takes care of someone, who nurtures, loves and provides for another human being.

For the past twenty -three years at Adoption ARC, I have met some amazing men and women both who give birth to children and those who adopt children. Despite racial, socioeconomic and cultural differences, that one thing that unites them all is love and selflessness for their child. There are a lot of stereotypes about adoption, birth parents, and adoptive parents and I am fortunate enough to be able to have a rare glimpse into the hearts and souls of these courageous and loving families.

Never once think that when a birth parent makes the decision to place their child for adoption does it mean that they don’t love and care for that child. No, in fact, they love to the core- they are putting their child’s needs and interests above their own pain of loss and grief. I will never forget a Mother’s Day back in 2004 when Adoption ARC had a social work supervisor named Grace. She had so much love and compassion for her clients. On Mother’s Day, she purchased a Mother’s Day card for one of her young birth moms who had placed her son for adoption in January of that year. Grace told her that she was no less a mom than anyone else even though her child was not with her and that she was every bit as loving and deserving of the title “Mother.” I watched this interaction and was not quite sure how the young birth mom would respond. She went over and hugged Grace and said, “ Thank you. Thank you for allowing me to be his mother today and to really feel like he will always be part of me.” This powerful image is etched into my memory even some 13 years later and has taught me a valuable lesson so much so that every Mother’s Day, I wish all of my birth mom’s a Happy Mother’s Day.

What about adoptive parents on Mother’s Day? What an exciting and special day it is for them. Most, however, do find it bitter sweet as they know that their son or daughter’s birth mom may be feeling grief and loss on that day. What is so amazing to me is when birth and adoptive parents send greetings and well wishes to each other on this special day. Both sides of the triad understand that they are focused on providing the best of themselves to their child. Many adoptive parents have incorporated “National Birth Mother’s Day” into their family celebrations. This special day of honoring birth parents is held on the Saturday before Mother’s Day. National Birth Mother’s Day was established in 1990 by a birth mother named May Jean Wolch-Marsh. Many people take the opportunity to use “National Birth Mother’s Day” as a time to educate others on adoption and birth parents and why people choose to make adoption plans. It is a great opportunity to take the stigma out of creating an adoption plan and bring it into the national consciousness as a loving and safe pregnancy option that should be respected.

So, let’s talk about the kids. What about our adoptees? How do they feel on Mother’s Day? Research shows that the most healthy approach to telling children about when they are adopted is right from the beginning. Begin using the word “adoption” and read children’s stories about adoption even before your child can talk. In that way, adoption is seen as a normal and healthy way to join a family. This methodology also gives children a place to express their feelings toward their birth family. Are they concerned about them? Do they think that they are sad or happy? Can they write to them or can they send them a card or drawing during Mother’s Day or Birth Mother’s Day to let them know that they are thinking of them.

So, let’s hear it for the men! There are many same sex male adoptive families and single dads out there caring and nurturing our children. You deserve both a Happy Mother’s Day and a Happy Father’s Day. Anyone who says that men can’t be warm, feeling and proper “mothers” have never met my great families. Thank you for showing me that love is love and it is the most important ingredient in raising happy, healthy children.

So, I wish you all a Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Birth Mother’s Day and would love to see some photos of your special day at or