Mother’s Day is a joyous celebration of love and togetherness. A role during Mother’s Day is more important than you think. It’s a day when families gather and children share an appreciation for moms. As a birth mother, the celebration can be a bit different. This is often a day of mixed emotions. A bittersweet remembrance of love is tinged with pain. Even though you may not feel like a “mom” in the traditional sense, you are still worthy of celebration. How you choose to celebrate is ultimately up to you, but these suggestions may help you to navigate this Mother’s Day and those for years to come.

Birth Mother’s Day

Did you know that there is a special day designated just for birth moms? Birth Mother’s Day is celebrated the Saturday before Mother’s Day every year. It is important to acknowledge the sacrifice and unconditional love that birth mothers continue to give. Having this special day reminds us that birth mothers are valuable and worthy of recognition. Some adoption agencies and support groups host special gatherings for Birth Mother’s Day. These may include dinner, guest speakers, thoughtful gifts, and perhaps, most importantly, fellowship with others who truly understand. With social distancing being the norm right now, many of these gatherings have unfortunately been canceled for the time being, but it is worth checking with your agency to see if these celebrations will be held again in the future. Some organizations such as BraveLove have created videos to celebrate this special occasion. Lifetime Healing for Birth Mothers even hosted an online Birth Mother’s Day event complete with guest speakers, giveaways, and more. Feel free to check out these resources or search for others that may benefit you this year and in the future. While many women are eager to celebrate themselves on Birth Mother’s Day, some birth moms prefer celebrating on the traditional Mother’s Day holiday instead. That’s okay too. Just remember that you are worthy of celebration.

Contact With Your Birth Child

If you are involved in an open adoption, you may be lucky enough to receive a card, a gift, or even a visit with your birth child in celebration of Mother’s Day. These can bring big smiles and happy tears as you are shown respect and gratitude from your birth child and the adoptive family. If these tokens of affection leave you a bit sad, that’s normal too. Do your best to enjoy the blessings that surround you and the positive aspects of your adoption.

If your adoption isn’t as open, you may not receive any contact from the adoptive family or from your birth child. You may not receive Mother’s Day wishes from friends or family either, as some people often aren’t sure how to approach these types of situations. This can be a painful reminder that you can’t celebrate the day as you’d like. In these instances, it can be helpful to do something extra special for yourself and to celebrate in your own unique way.

Should I Go Out or Stay In?

Many businesses and organizations hold special events for Mother’s Day. Churches often hold a special service where mothers are recognized with kind words or with flowers or another gesture. Many restaurants recognize moms with discounted meals or small tokens of appreciation. Regardless of where you go, it’s likely that someone will wish you a Happy Mother’s Day. Because every adoption journey is different, every birth mother will have her own feelings about these types of situations. Some birth moms may be proud and feel honored to be celebrated. Others may find this too painful, as she doesn’t feel the need to explain the details of her adoption with the general public.  Even seemingly simple questions like, “are you a mother?” or “how many children do you have?” can feel impossible to answer. Seeing the other moms laugh and enjoy time with children might still be triggering for some birth moms, and a sudden flood of emotion may arise. Before attending these types of events or gatherings in public places, ask yourself if you are prepared for the recognition moms are going to receive.  If so, get out and enjoy yourself. If not, there is nothing wrong with staying in and having some “me time”. We are “safer at home” during this time, anyways.

Sending Well Wishes to the Moms in Your Life

If you are fortunate enough to have your own mother in your life, make sure to send her a card, give her a call, or spend some quality time with her. If your mother is no longer with you, celebrate her in your own way by writing her a letter or listening to her favorite songs. Regardless, consider sending well wishes to the other mothers in your life as well. We all know women who have made an impact on our lives and the lives of those around us. Aunts, grandmothers, friends, teachers, mentors–all deserve a kind word. If you are in contact with your child’s adoptive mother, send a small gift or a few kind words to brighten her day. It will probably be appreciated more than you realize. Hearts find joy in giving, and by celebrating women who mean a lot to you, your own spirit will receive a boost.

Allow Yourself to Feel

Oftentimes, we push our emotions down, attempting to hide them from others and even from ourselves. While it may seem like a temporary fix, these feelings have a way of resurfacing. Remember that you have gone through a life-changing experience and that it is okay and actually quite important to allow yourself to feel. Certain days can be tough for birth moms. Birthdays and Mother’s Day are some of the most common days when emotions arise.

Use this time to recognize your struggles and your triumphs. Remember why you chose adoption for your child or children, and know that it took remarkable strength to do so. Listen to songs that allow you to reminisce about your adoption situation. Write a letter to your birth child. Write a poem expressing your innermost feelings. Draw or paint with colors that embody your emotion. If you aren’t artistic, go for a long walk and enjoy the beauty of nature as you reflect on your journey. If you can’t spend time with your birth child, light a candle in honor of him or her.

If you feel the need to cry, let yourself do so. A good cry can be a wonderful release, and we often feel much better once we have let go of that pent up emotion. If you are angry, allow yourself to feel that as well. What’s important is dealing with it in a positive manner. Pretty much every day of the year, birth moms put on a brave face and march forward with a strength that few will ever comprehend. It’s okay to let your feelings out a few times a year. In addition to the difficult emotions, remember to focus on the positive as well. Allow yourself to feel pride, accomplishment, and joy. You are amazing and you deserve happiness on Mother’s Day and every day.  

Reach Out to Other Birth Moms

No one understands what birth moms are going through better than other birth moms.  While each journey is unique, there are many common bonds that can be formed.  Whether you have a small group of birth mothers you know personally or a larger community of birth mothers online, you have a safe place to express exactly what’s on your mind without fear of judgment. Talk to others who understand. Other birth mothers will likely lift you up and help you to know that you are not alone. A community of loving birth mothers can stand by you whether you are celebrating the happy times or trudging through the trenches. Sending birth mother’s day cards through the mail is also a thoughtful way to show that she is remembered.

You ARE a Mother

“Love is unselfishly choosing for another’s highest good.”- C.S. Lewis.

Whether you have gone on to have more children of your own or not, remember that you are a mother. A birth mother can sometimes feel that just because she isn’t legally raising her own child and can’t be physically present with the child that she is no longer a mother. This could not be further from the truth. You carried a child in your womb. You felt those kicks and flutters. You gave birth to a child who has brought joy to the lives of so many. You have given that child the hair color that bounces beautifully in the sunlight, the eyes that sparkle with laughter and curiosity. You have passed on exceptional qualities that have been in your family for generations. Not only did you bring a child into the world, you cared about that child so much that you chose to put his or her needs above your own. You sacrificed so much of yourself so that your son or daughter could have the best life possible. That, in itself, makes you a wonderful mother. Anyone who would tell you otherwise doesn’t fully understand the situation. You are and always will be an amazing mother. Your courage, your strength, and your perseverance are qualities to be admired.

Ways to Celebrate Yourself

This Mother’s Day weekend, take time to do something special for yourself. You deserve it. Self-care can make a world of difference in your mindset. Go ahead and indulge in some of your favorite activities. Need ideas? Here are a few that are sure to bring a smile to your face.

  • Pamper Yourself. Physical self-care can make you feel like a queen.
  • Take a long hot bath with candles and bubbles or a fizzy bath bomb.
  • Paint your nails.
  • Fix your hair, do your makeup, and get all dolled up.
  • Let your significant other, if you have one, give you a much-needed massage.
  • Spend time outdoors. The beauty of nature can evoke feelings of peacefulness and restoration. Quiet reflection is good for the soul.  
  • Soak up the sunshine. Find cool rocks at the creek. Stroll through the forest. Walk around downtown or explore your community. 
  • If you are an animal lover, spend time with your pets or volunteer to walk dogs at a shelter.
  • Enjoy your favorite meal. It’s okay to indulge every once in a while.  
  • Pig out on your favorite ice cream.
  • Savor some decadent chocolate.
  • Enjoy a home-cooked meal, complete with all of your comfort foods.
  • Order from your favorite restaurant, and get exactly what you want.
  • Buy the fancy coffee from your local coffee shop.
  • Watch a movie or read a book. Whether it’s a chick flick, a comedy, or a sappy story that makes you cry, take a break and watch an old favorite or one that you’ve been wanting to see.
  • Getting lost in a good book is another great way to take a break from reality and imagine a world that’s full of endless possibilities.
  • Spend time with loved ones. With a pandemic going on, this one can be tricky.  If you can’t safely spend time with your family and friends, consider calling to catch up on current life events. Sit down and write a letter or make a card. Facetime and video chat have made it where groups can party together without leaving their own homes. Sharing love and laughter is heartwarming. 
  • Take the day off! The dishes and the laundry aren’t going anywhere. Give yourself a break for Mother’s Day. Let someone else handle the responsibility or just pick it back up tomorrow. Use your weekend to relax and spoil yourself.

Do What Feels Right For You

However you decide to celebrate (and even if you decide not to), let your heart guide you. You know better than anyone how you are feeling and what you need to do to make it through this holiday as smoothly as possible. Whether you find yourself enjoying an exciting and fun-filled weekend or simply struggling to stay afloat, know that every birth mother everywhere is right there with you. You are not alone. Whatever you are feeling is normal. You are an incredible mother, and you are worthy of celebration. May your Mother’s Day be filled with more blessings than you can count.

Leslie Bolin is a happily married mama of 3 amazing kids. She is also the birth mother to an adult son. She is just beginning the reunion process, which makes her nervous and excited at the same time. Leslie enjoys educating others about adoption and has done her fair share of outreach, writing, and public speaking on the subject. She has an Associate of Arts degree in Social Work and plans to continue her education. Leslie enjoys spending time with her family, finding peace in the beauty of nature, and laughing as much as possible. She believes that smiling is contagious and that music is good for the soul. She is a firm believer that even the most difficult moments can be turned into something beautiful when we use our stories to help others.