How to celebrate an adoptive mom-to-be on Mother's Day

May 2, 2011 at 12:10 p.m. ET

Becoming a mom through adoption is an incredible and life-altering experience. However, the process can be long and difficult, and for some adoptive moms-to-be, Mother's Day is particularly hard. Whether you know an adoptive mom-to-be who is waiting for a particular child or waiting in general, find out how to honor her on Mother's Day.

Woman in rocking chair

For some women, the time that passes between making the decision to adopt and becoming a mom is relatively short. For others, it can be long -- sometimes spanning several years. Prospective adoptive moms who are waiting to be matched with an expectant mom in the case of domestic adoption, waiting for a referral or travel approval in the case of international adoption or waiting for foster care placements are still moms-to-be. Don't forget to honor adoptive moms-to-be on Mother's Day.

It's hard!

The adoption process can be long and unpredictable. While some people always plan to adopt, others adopt after being unable to have biological children. For first-time waiting adoptive parents, Mother's Day can bring many emotions: Not yet a mom, but waiting to be a mom -- just not noticeably. The day can serve as a reminder of what's missing.

"People should know that waiting is extremely emotional and to be ignored or forgotten on a day like Mother's Day intensifies that emotion," adoptive mom of two Mindy McClard explains. Kerryanne, an adoptive mom of one who is waiting to travel for her second child, agrees: "People should know that every day -- whether waiting for a referral or waiting to travel -- can be heartbreaking."

Special gifts

Baby travel kit

If you're particularly creative, a great way to honor an adoptive mom-to-be on Mother's Day is with a special, relevant gift. Mary Kate, an adoptive mom of one, received a very thoughtful gift. "My mother-in-law got me a baby travel kit while we were waiting for my Mother's Day present, which was nice, as it recognized that we were very close but also our specific situation (meaning we would be traveling overseas versus going to a hospital to deliver a baby)," she shares. Mary Kate appreciated both the recognition that she was going to become a mom and the attention to the fact that she was going about it differently.

The gift of caring

quotation mark openKind words of support mean more to me than gifts any day.quotation mark close

Of course, as with any holiday, Mother's Day isn't just about gifts. It's about being noticed for being a mom or a mom-to-be. "I think it's hard for folks, as they don't always know what to do," explains Mary Kate. "But even if you don't have any ideas, just letting a friend or family member know you are thinking of them and excited for the next Mother's Day when they will be able to celebrate it with their child/ren in their arms would be sweet!"

Jennifer, an adoptive mom of two, agrees. "Kind words of support would mean more to me than gifts any day," she says.

Public acknowledgment

For adoptive moms-to-be who attend church, Mother's Day can be particularly meaningful -- or painful. Often moms are asked to stand, as are women who are pregnant. When waiting adoptive moms-to-be are left out, it can hurt.

Melanie, an adoptive mom of one, was always recognized as a waiting mom at her church service on Mother's Day, and that made her feel good. On the other hand, Kathy, also an adoptive mom of one, had a hard time because she wasn't recognized. "I sat in church two Mother's Days in a row, crying as all the moms stood to be acknowledged ... it seemed (and was) so far away," she says.

Just remember to be considerate

Lisa, who is waiting to be matched for a domestic adoption, adds that how someone says something to her makes all the difference. Words such as "When you're a mom, you'll understand" can be very hurtful, versus the kind sentiments her own mom shares, such as "Your time is coming and there is a child out there for you."

Honoring an adoptive mom-to-be on Mother's Day can be as simple as acknowledging that she's waiting to become a mom. No matter what you do, just don't overlook her!

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