I was at the Dr. last week and the nurse drawing my blood asked where I worked. I told her an adoption agency and she immediately headed for the typical response, "How wonderful, it must be so rewarding seeing families created."
I told her that I don't just work with families, I also work with birthparents. Her response, she had never thought about birthparents before, just the adoptive parents. It was an honest response and the typical response.
There have thankfully been changes and birthparents do have more of a voice than they ever had before. Despite the progress, there is still much work to do. Birthparents truly are the unsung heroes of the adoption story. Those who move in adoption circles know what wonderful and amazing people birthparents really are but in society they are either invisible or portrayed negatively (thank you Law and Order SVU).
Tomorrow is Birthmother's Day, a day designed to honor the sacrifice of women who have given up so much. Many birthmothers go through life unrecognized as the mother of the child they placed for adoption. Some have other children and some do not. Yet the thing they all have in common is they are phenomenal mothers. One thing that exemplifies a good mother is her willingness to put her child's needs before her own. There is little doubt there is a lot of sacrifice that goes into being a parent.
A birthparent also puts her child's needs before her own, and because of it makes one of the greatest sacrifices any parent can ever make. This makes her a pretty amazing mother, whether she is parenting her child or not.
Mother's Day can be a bittersweet and difficult day for birthparents. While other mothers are honored, her sacrifice and status as a mother often goes ignored.
I hope as Birthmother's Day and Mother's Day both approach this weekend those who know a birthparent will choose to acknowledge her in some way. Participating in “baby loss” groups over the last few months, one of the things that are so often said by those who have lost a child is that their greatest joy comes in hearing the names of their children spoken. It is so important to them to know that people have not forgotten that their child was born.
I believe birthparents also want others to acknowledge the birth of their children, and remember that although they may not be raising that child, their child is never forgotten. Certainly birthmothers never forget.
Really the best part of my job isn’t seeing families created but having the opportunity to know birthmothers. They are women of great inner strength and determination. I love them, I appreciate them, and I feel honored to know them. They truly are some of the most amazing people I know. If you are as lucky as I am, and you know a birthmother, please take a moment tomorrow to wish her a Happy Birthmother’s Day.