Mother’s Day is typically a day of celebration across the country, as kids – and dads – pamper moms with flowers, gifts and other assorted goodies. However, for some, such as birthmothers who have placed their children for adoption, Mother’s Day can be a painful reminder of the sacrifices made to provide what they think is best for their child.
Making an adoption plan is never an easy decision for any birthmother, even those who have no doubt they are making the right choice. For these women, Mother’s Day often brings tearful memories and depression. Fortunately, a group of birthmothers from Seattle had the foresight in 1990 to understand the power of community in the healing process when they launched Birthmother’s Day.
Traditionally held the Saturday before Mother’s Day in May, Birthmother’s Day is an opportunity to educate, honor and remember, as birthmothers gather together in communities across the United States to share their stories, learn more about themselves and make friends with those who are dealing with similar feelings of loss and regret.
Since its inception in 1990, Birthmother’s Day has experienced tremendous growth, with celebrations coordinated in local communities by individuals, church communities and organization’s specializing in family preservation, such as Bethany Christian Services. Fortunately, the continued growth of this celebration honoring birthmothers has occurred in conjunction with another trend having a positive impact in the healing process – the shift to open adoptions.
Today, only five percent of infant adoptions in the U.S. take place without an ongoing relationship between the birth parent and adoptive families, according to a recent report published by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. The report also states that about 55 percent of infant adoptions each year are fully open, with birth parents and adoptive parents agreeing to ongoing contact, and 40 percent are mediated, whereby the adoption agency facilitates periodic exchanges of pictures and letters of the adopted child to the birth parents. Just as having greater access to a support group has aided birthmothers, so too has increased access – in many forms – to the children they made adoption plans for.
So, as Mother’s Day approaches, take a minute to think about those women who made the ultimate sacrifice when they decided that the best life for the child they were bringing into this world was with another family. Seek ways in which you can honor and support them. Whether it’s by volunteering at a local birthmothers’ event in your area, working with your church to create a birthmothers support group if one doesn’t already exist, or donating materials to an existing group. These women deserve our compassion, not just in May, but every day.
Bill Blacquiere is president of Bethany Christian Services