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Honoring a birth mom on Mother's Day

Laura Willard is a law school grad who has successfully avoided using her education for eight years and counting. She's a wife and an adoptive mom to two kids. Motherhood is the best job she never knew she wanted so much until she had it...

Once a mom, always a mom

When we think of a mom on Mother's Day, we usually consider a woman with children who is parenting them. However, there's an entire group of moms who are often overlooked on Mother's Day: Birth moms (or "first moms"). If you know a woman who is a mom but is not parenting her child because she placed him or her for adoption, keep reading for tips on how to honor a birth mom on Mother's Day.

Woman reading letter

For birth moms who have placed a child for adoption, Mother's Day isn't necessarily the happiest day of the year. Still, it doesn't mean that all birth moms want to be ignored on Mother's Day. Below are a few ideas on how to honor a birth mom on Mother's Day, as well as thoughts and advice from a mom who placed her son for adoption.

A day of conflicting emotions

"For me Mother's Day is a big ball of conflicting emotions," says Kat, a first mom from Tacoma, Washington, who placed her son for adoption nearly 10 years ago. "I feel like it should be a happy celebratory day and yet it's another day I'm not with my son. ... It's hard to find something to celebrate in that, but I don't want to be ignored on that day, either."

Basically, understand that Mother's Day can be both a somewhat happy and a very sad occasion for a birth mom. Bringing a child into the world but being unable to parent him isn't a simple situation. The emotions that accompany it aren't simple, either.

Moms are moms

"I don't want to take away from the other, more traditional mothers who are also celebrating, but I don't want to pretend that I'm not a mother -- because I am," explains Kat. "Regardless of legalities, I am a mother even though I am not parenting my son." Keep this in mind on Mother's Day if you know a birth mom who isn't parenting her child. She brought a child into the world whom she cares about, even though she's not raising him. She's a mom!

Difficult shouldn't mean dismissive

Keep in mind that simply because someone finds Mother's Day difficult doesn't mean you should ignore her status as a mom. Recognize that Mother's Day can be very difficult for a birth mom -- but that doesn't mean she wants everyone around her to tiptoe around it and make no mention of the day.

quotation mark openBasically, understand that Mother's Day can be both a somewhat happy and a very sad occasion for a birth mom. Bringing a child into the world but being unable to parent him, isn't a simple situation.quotation mark close

Kat says that while a Mother's Day card would be nice, it means a lot for someone to simply say "Happy Mother's Day" to her. A simple recognition can be very meaningful.

Visit our Mother's Day center for ways to celebrate moms >>

For families in open adoptions

No two families in open adoptions are the same, so it's impossible to generalize the best approach to Mother's Day for adoptive families. Kat, for example, loves receiving photos of her son, and it's especially meaningful on Mother's Day. Additionally, she treasures the notes her son's adoptive mom sends.

"As much as I cherish the pictures, I equally cherish the heartfelt note my son's mom wrote inside the card," Kat says. "In the almost 10 years we've had our open adoption, I have kept every single note, card and letter my son's parents have ever sent me."

If you're an adoptive parent in an open adoption with your child's birth mom and you want to honor her on Mother's Day but aren't sure how, there's an easy solution: Ask her. Additionally, if you know a birth mom and want to recognize her on Mother's Day but don't know how, talk to her. As with many things in life, it doesn't hurt to ask. But it can hurt to ignore.

More on Mother's Day

DIY Mother's Day gift basket ideas
Creative Mother's Day crafts for kids
A gift for every mom

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