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After having placed a child up for adoption, many women and men have struggled with cultural events that can draw attention to their experience of loss. Mother’s Day is an especially significant time that may bring up difficult feelings for women who have been birth mothers but have needed to place a child for adoption, whether by choice, through coercion, or related to court mandates. 

Birth Mother’s Day offers an opportunity to acknowledge and encourage those who have made the difficult decision to place their child into another family. It is also a day for parents of adopted children to honor the woman who birthed their child.

History of Birth Mother’s Day

Birth Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1990 when it was founded by Mary Jean Wolch-Marsh and a group of women from Seattle, Washington. The purpose behind the grass roots day was for the women to show support to one another, offering special recognition to their unique and important role as birth mothers. This mutual support and encouragement offers a sense of belonging and understanding to those who otherwise may feel isolated and alone.

After more than three decades, Birth Mother’s Day has grown from a small group gathering to an international event that is now used to educate, inform, and show compassion for these women who have been through such a difficult and challenging experience in their lives. The hope is also that the public will become more aware of assumptions made related to adoptions, choosing to be curious and learn about each person’s individual story and showing support rather than passing judgment.

How to Observe Birth Mother’s Day

Show support and appreciation in a variety of ways on Birth Mother’s Day, getting started with some of these ideas:

Thank a Birth Mother

Those parents of adopted children can observe Birth Mother’s Day by showing thanks and appreciation to the gift of life the birth mother has given to their child. Of course, this should be done with care and delicacy, based on the specific relationship that the child and adoptive parents have with the birth mother, whether the adoption is open, the age of the child, as well as other factors. Activities of gratitude might be a card with a photo, a picture the child drew, a small gift or some other show of support for the birth mother.

Support a Birth Mother

Friends, family members and others who know a birth mother who has needed to give a child up for adoption can be sensitive to her needs and desires on Birth Mother’s Day. It would be kind to ask her if she is aware of the day, how she might like to spend the day, and what can be done to support her in recognition of her.

Join the Birth Mother’s Day Walk

The Adoption Network works to show support to birth mothers and adoptive families through the Birth Mother’s Day Walk. This virtual event is held annually, encouraging adoptive families to go on a walk together to reflect on and consider the gratitude they feel for the place their birth mother has played in their lives. Even families with closed adoptions or no contact can foster emotional health in honor and celebration of Birth Mother’s Day. 

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