Mother’s Day has been something I’ve secretly loathed since placing my daughter for adoption. It can feel like a constant yearly reminder that I don’t have a daughter anymore and can be incredibly painful, not only the day itself, but the weeks leading up to mother’s day.
Stepping foot into a grocery store can be triggering, seeing the displays of bouquets- especially arranged for mothers, or the keepsakes all throughout department stores, hand selected by distributors for children to gift that special woman in their life that’s raised and cared for them from infancy. I see these things all around me as the special date just for mothers slowly creeps up on us every year, and I feel pushed hard by society that I am not a mother in the traditional sense. Thoughts loom over me, that I don’t deserve a pretty bouquet of flowers, or a picture frame with the word “Mom” ornately engraved across the front with a picture of me and my daughter- because I didn’t care for her in the typical ideal that my own mother cared for me.
I feel a tinge of jealousy when I see other moms posting pictures of the handmade gifts their children made for them at school, or the annual Mother’s Day brunch some families partake in- smiling faces of a woman and all of her happy, grateful kids together just to celebrate her. Over the years since I placed, I have learned to try to appreciate the motherhood that I see around me, but there is something about the holiday that is just for mothers that has become incredibly hard for me to associate with.
When I placed my daughter for adoption, I had no clue that holidays would make me feel so many emotions. Certain feelings of loss are associated with each holiday, but this month, we celebrated Mother’s Day, and in particular this year, I noticed how the holiday was making me feel angry and dissociated from everyone around me. I wanted to be alone the whole weekend and I became sick because of my anxiety of the approaching date. I didn’t want my family to tell me “Happy Mother’s Day”, because it’s not a happy day for me.
For the very emotions & feelings that I’ve expressed, that I often feel excluded & dismissed around this time of the year, a group of women chose to recognize a day just for birth mothers. In honor and respect, a holiday was created simply called, Birth Mother’s Day. It is celebrated the day before mother’s day, to acknowledge the sacrifices that all birth mothers have made, and to celebrate them for their role in their adoptive families lives.
Birth Mother’s Day is the day before Mother’s Day each year. It is a newer holiday, founded in 1990 to create awareness for open adoption, private adoption, forced adoption and to acknowledge the woman’s sacrifice and strength of placing her child for adoption.
Birth Mother’s day is a nationally recognized holiday in the U.S., but it is still relatively new. Each year, I still feel emotional about Mother’s Day, but getting to share the joy of Birth Mother’s Day with other birth moms, and educating my own community on the holiday helps me to build a space where I feel more comfortable. The holiday no longer feels so traumatic, because my friends and family can help me celebrate on a day that specifically honors me and the choice that I made to place my daughter for adoption.
For the first two years after I placed my daughter, Carri Uram of Adoption Options Inc, would set a time and place, and invite me to a birth mother’s outing. She invited other women who had placed their children, and took us out to lunch. Carri even showered us with gifts to make us feel extra special. I especially recall a poem written by a birth mother who placed through Adoption Options, as I still read it from time to time to remind myself that my sacrifice was special and not made in vain.
The generosity and the initiative that Carri took in those early years of my placement taught me that I can feel special as a birth mother. Each year, she still texts me to say “Happy Birth Mother’s Day!”, and I see her posts about it on the internet, all month leading up to that very special day, challenging people to consider birth mothers and to acknowledge the holiday for them. It makes me feel better, like I don’t have to ignore all moms on Mother’s Day, and like I am included. In a way, I get to join in with them in celebrating, although my celebration may look very different.