Category Archives: family traditions

What to Say to a Birthmother on Mother’s Day and a Thought or Two on Birthmother’s Day

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There are millions of us. For every adoptee, there is a birthmother. We’re your sisters, your friends, your aunts, your cousins, your teammates, your co-workers, your wives and girlfriends, that person next to you on the plane who’s flying home to see her mom and tells you everything after her 4th rum and coke.

Each of our stories is unique and they’re all the same. What you say to the particular birthmother(s) that you know probably depends on the story. Think about what you know. Step into her shoes. Is she still keeping her secret from others with you being one of the few in her confidence? Is she happily reunited with her son or daughter? Has her child refused to meet her? Is she searching? Does she have other children? Maybe you invite her over for coffee or take her out for a drink. Maybe you tell her you feel enriched by knowing her story, or you give her a card or a take time for a conversation. Maybe you ask her what she thinks of Birthmother’s Day, which is today, by the way, in case you didn’t know.

I don’t exactly hate the idea of Birthmother’s Day, myself. But I don’t really love it either. The phrase Happy Birthmother’s Day pretty much gets stuck in my throat. I’d rather cough up a carving knife than say that, but the idea of commemoration is a good one. We’re here. So, I’m thinking of us and all of our stories.

Traditions

Ritual and rhythm in the life of a family are good things. The same vacation spot every spring. The Christmas candles on the mantle. The turkey centerpiece. It’s harder to establish traditions in a family separated by adoption even after there’s been a solid reunion. There’s a lot on the calendar already if you’re a 21-year-old adoptee. Ditto if you’re a birthmother with other children and a husband and in-laws and a big extended family. And as everyone gets older more complications (albeit mostly happy ones) spread through our calendars like kudzu. Nineteen years post reunion my son has his own family. My other children are grown with mates of their own. Three years ago my husband left me for another woman, and what was left of our shifting sense of family rhythm was thrown completely out of sync.
This 4th of July (cue the big sunburst-like golden fireworks) my son and his family came to spend the holiday with me for the 2nd year in a row. The same park, the same blankets in the same spot.
It made me insanely happy.