Happy Birth Mother’s Day: A Brief History

You are // made from everything // That I am // We are // made from everything // That the stars are // I can feel // Your heart beat // Within mine // The rhythm // Of a blood that runs deep // Through valleys and peaks // I watched you dance in the snow capped pinnacle // Of my middle // No matter the distance // I feel your pulse // Your vibe // You’re part of my tribe // Drum circles // Chanting and channeling //Ancestors // Deeply rooted // DNA threads // cross-stitched generations dance in our heads // You // my first love // From the start // A part // Of my dream... – excerpt from a Birthday poem.

On May 12, 1990 was the first Birth Mother’s Day celebration in Seattle, Washington, held on the Saturday before Mother’s Day. It was created and founded by women who had formed adoption plans for their children. Today is the 31st anniversary of Birth Mother’s Day. 

Each year on the Saturday before Mother’s Day, we can honor Birth Mothers, the Mothers who placed their children with adoptive families. The intent of the day, was/is to honor and support Birth Mothers as the world around them prepares to celebrate the women who are parenting their children.

This day originated as a day of solidarity, education, and compassion, though it also is a mixture of emotions for various Mamas. For example, I have found in my experience that many of the older generations of women who placed their children, are revolted by this term. I was a part of a FB group for Birth Mothers and I received a volatile backlash from some regarding a “Happy Birth Mother’s Day” post I made 2 years ago. Many of these women had really ill experiences with the adoption process and still suffer strained relationships with their grown children that they’ve met much later in life, if at all. For those women, whom I have the upmost respect for, they want to only be referred to as Mother. 

I, on the other hand was introduced to this term in the late 90s/early 2000s as an aging teen mom/not a real mom, who was invited to a Birth Mother’s Luncheon. Learning this term then was healing for me. It gave me a sense of identity during a time I was unraveling in the dark of daily existence. I wouldn’t even say I was surviving, I was in a perpetual state of needing to be numb, you can use your imagination here. I didn’t even have the ability to admit I had placed my daughter for adoption for 10 years!!

 For 10 years I avoided conversations about where my daughter was, people knew I was pregnant and then I wasn’t.I left 10th grade for 2 weeks (having been conveniently suspended for 10 days for fighting!) gave birth and came back not pregnant i in my pre-pregnancy clothes (teenagers have the ultimate snap back). People thought my daughter was at home or with an aunt, I became a skilled at switching subjects. I carried around floating shards of my heart in my chest cavity to the degree that sometimes I would flat out say no when asked if I had kids so I wouldn’t have to admit that I had a baby, but I didn’t have a baby. That I hadn’t even left the hospital with my baby, voiceless and choiceless. I didn’t have anyone to talk to about my postpartum body care and in solitude, I carried confusion, shame and regret. The term Birth Mother hasn’t erased the pain that I’ve felt, but it gave me a degree of understanding and compassion. It empowered me when I needed language and words to make some sense of who I was, especially as an “out of control” pregnant teen.

I have had one of the more positive experiences with adoption than most people have heard. Our adoption agreement was very open, it’s why I picked her family. I was able to speak with my daughter by phone almost anytime that I wanted. We met in person a few times a year, exchanged snail mail, and as we got older, I would spend holidays and weekends with her. For her 13th birthday, her parents were open enough to allow the 2 of us to take a train from DC to NYC together for a long weekend. At 16, she was one of my maids of honor and for her high school graduation, she came to stay with me in California for a week. I am blessed and grateful to have such a beautiful and close relationship with my daughter, her parents and for many years, her siblings. All of that love and I still carry wounds from growing and birthing a child to then be separated from her. There are still shards in suspension in my torso that have not welded back together and as a “healed” person, I’m not sure if they ever will, there’s still work to be done, but at least now I can talk about it.

I appreciate having this space to share & a community to receive it.

– xOx