What to Say to a Birthmother

Birthmothers, the mothers in the shadows

Do you know a birthmother?

There are millions of us birthmothers. For every adoptee, there is one of us. 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.

Do you know what to say on Mother’s Day?

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.

7 thoughts on “What to Say to a Birthmother

  1. Lisa Stumm

    Sure wish my Birthmother was alive to wish her happy mother’s day. But I’m grateful for having met her and spent the little time that I had with her.

    Happy Mother’s Day to you Denise!

    Take care,

  2. Priscilla Sharp

    As soon as we start wishing fathers wgo have lost children to adoption Happy Birthfather’s Day on the Saturday before Father’s Day, I might join you. But I’m sure you see now how ludicrous, sexist, manipulative, and coercive this is.

    1. L K Stumm

      Well, it does take 2 to tango but birthmothers have to endure long pregnancy and total change to theIr bodies giving them the right to say what happens with their child after it’s born. Circumstances are different for everyone but I think if adoptees want to celebrate birthmothers day, don’t spoil it.

  3. ame rica

    I would prefer a memorial wall. A wall in a location that I can visit and stand before a small spot where my name , among so many other birth mothers, carved in cold granite; a place where I would press my body against and feel the void which still exists after all these years after handing over my infant into the hands of another woman who was forever considered my baby’s one and only mother. In this spot I will look out to the vast universe and pray for acceptance, forgiveness, and mostly that my daughter finds peace, forgiveness, acceptance and love.


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