The Saturday before Mother's Day is not a holiday marked on calendars, nor is it one for which Hallmark makes a card. It is not a holiday recognized by general society. It is Birthmother's Day.
A little background information for you. Birthmother's day was actually created by a group of Seattle area birthmothers in an effort not only to educate but more importantly, to honor and remember. This group of birthmothers decided to create Birthmother's Day.
The first gathering was on the Saturday before Mother's Day 1990.
I had never heard of Birthmother's Day until the year after I placed my daughter. I was invited by the adoption agency to a gathering at a park. We had lunch; we shared our stories, poems, our tears. We lit candles and said a prayer.
I know that that first year was very hard for me. The need to be acknowledged and reassured that I had made the right choice was a very big part of my life. I believe celebrating that first Birthmother's Day was helpful for me in being acknowledged and sharing my pain and tears with others who could understand me best.
Since that time, I have not acknowledged or been acknowledged on Birthmother's Day. I had not given Birthmother's Day another thought until this year when asked for help in preparing an article for it.
There has been a debate on the celebrating of Birthmother's Day. It goes along with the debate over using the term "birthmother"; for a woman who has placed a baby for adoption.
What is really behind celebrating the day separate from Mother's Day?
In all families, every member is identified by a term, such as mother, father, sister, brother. Today, we all know more than one family with step parents, half siblings, etc. Adoption blends two families forever and like it or not there needs to be some way to determine who is who.
Let's think a little about adoption in itself. Those of us involved in the adoption community; whether we are a birth parent, adoptive parent or adoptee, we all have our opinions and feelings on how we like or do not like to be acknowledged as one of the above titles. For some of us, adoption plays a big part of who we are, what we were and what we will become. For others, it is like comparing it to the color of our hair or our shoe size, it is a very small part of our personalities.
Let me tell you a little about myself and my feelings now, eight years into an open adoption. I think about my daughter at least every other day. A big, secret part of me will always wish to be known as more than just her birthmother. If we look at the real meaning of the word "birthmother," I do not want to be known as only the woman who gave her life, I feel like I am so much more to her; I want to be so much more to her.
That is the fine line in adoption that is drawn between birthmothers and adoptive mothers.
As a mother in general, how many of us would like to have to share our children with "another" mother? Or is deciding to take on such a feat inherent in one deciding to place a child and one deciding to create their family through adoption?
Here we are back to the original subject; Birthmother's Day and should or shouldn't it be celebrated? And why or why not?
My opinion is any birthmother, first mother, natural mother, WHATEVER you decide you want to be known has the right to do what makes her feel right about her choice or lack thereof. For some, Birthmother's Day can be a day to celebrate giving birth and making a choice to place and making it about the need to be acknowledged for that choice.
Some can use the day as one to educate others about adoption and what it means to them. The grief, the loss, the pain of losing the chance to mother one's child and how it affects the rest of one's life, for the better, if there is such a thing, and the worse, which we all know there are some really strong "worse" feelings involved.
I think Birthmother's Day should be more about women who have placed, acknowledging each other and supporting one another, no matter whether it was a real choice or something that was forced upon us. We should stand together as mothers who have lost a child that cannot be replaced. We should say, "Here we are, this is our pain, our sorrow and it is real." And we should hold each other and know we are not alone.