The Saturday before Mother’s Day, is National Birthmother’s Day, a day to honor the millions of brave and loving women placed their babies and children for adoption.
So how we can as adoptive parents honor our children’s birthmothers? It need not be very complicated. Just talking about the birthmother, sharing her name and celebrating the gift that she has given your family is one way to honor her.
I remember about 15 years ago, when my children were about five and eight years old, a friend in adoption made a video dedicated to birthmothers. The friend asked me and other adoptive families what were our children’s birthmother’s names so that she could put these names in the video. At the end of the videos, as the credits ran, the birthmothers were thanked and named. My children loved to watch the video and proudly shouted out the names of their birthmothers when the credits rolled. It was our way of honoring these women and reminding my daughters of the love their birthmothers had for them.
If you stay in regular communication with your child’s birthmother, you or your child can send a card as many do with our aunts, daughters, grandmothers, and any other mothers we know and love–even if they are not our mothers. Now that cards and notes can be sent via email, this can be a way for you and your child to send a loving message along with a few pictures to thank your child’s birthmother for choosing adoption.
So many children, whether adopted domestically or internationally, do not know how to contact their birthmothers—some do not even have her name. If you have no information about your child’s birthmother, honoring her on this special day can be a little more complicated, but it is important that in whatever way you can, you do so— It doesn’t have to be limited to a special holiday, but throughout the year.
You may say to your child that this coming Saturday is Birthmother’s Day, and although we not know who your birthmother is, or how to contact her, I think we should thank her. Perhaps you can plant a flower in her honor. Or make a cake and put a candle on it to thank her for giving your child life. If your child is old enough, you may want to ask your child what they would like to do. Maybe they would like to make her a card and put it on the refrigerator. If you do not know her name, perhaps you can give her a name—such as an endearing term in your child’s original language.
On this Saturday and Sunday, you can also write out a special prayer for your child’s birthmother. In fact, when you pray with your children at night, you can regularly remember their birthmothers and to pray for their salvation and well-being. Based on your child’s country of origin, you can remember her at other times of the year. So, if your child is from China, you may honor her on at the Chinese New Year, or if your child is from Russia or Eastern Europe, on International Women’s Day. Of course, Christmas is also a special time for remembering.
If your child came from a background in which there was abuse or neglect caused by the birth family, appropriately honoring the birthmother may require more creativity. Think of one or two positive attributes of the birthmother and let your child know you like these qualities in a person. Think of some way in which she was pretty, or smart, or had a special gift. Also, share with your child the birthmother’s love of music, animals, her favorite color, or the movies she enjoyed. By sharing what you like or admire about the birthmother you are also sharing the traits your child may share with their birthmother. By noting some positive qualities in the birthmother you are affirming you find these same good qualities in your child. Without knowing anything positive about their birthparents, children may not be able to have a sense of what is good about them.
Perhaps your child is pre-adolescent and is just beginning to want to know more, and the telling your child that she grew in her another woman’s tummy is not enough. Your child probably wants to have more in-depth information and there may be few facts to give your child. So what can you do? You can talk to your child about the area of the world where she came. You may consider a trip to visit the country. You may ask your child what she thinks her birthmother is doing right now. If your child can concretely verbalize what she thinks about her birthmother, what she may be doing, and what she may look like, then this may help your child feel that through sharing and talking about the birthmother, some of the gaps are being filled.
And most children will ask, “Why did she give me up?” Ultimately our children come into our homes because God ordained it, but this answer may not be enough to satisfy questions. There are many reasons (based on the birthmother, the country’s political and economic status, and a number of other factors) as to why children are placed for adoption. When children are younger, you can share the birthmother’s love for the child and the fact that she could not care for them. As your child matures, a fuller explanation is due. Regardless of the reasons why a birthmother chooses adoption, she and God chose life for your child and this we can all celebrate.
If you are a birthmother—even if no one knows that you placed a child for adoption—we honor you today. If you have an open relationship with your birth child, we honor you for this relationship. If you have regrets about your decision, we can still honor you for the decision you made to give your child life and a loving family. If you are sad because you believe that you can never find the child you placed for adoption, but want to know that your child is all right, we honor you for caring. You are all truly mothers because you chose life, you chose to give your child a loving and caring family, and you continue to want what is best for your child. We pray that you can know the peace and the love of God.
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