Open Adoption and Mother’s Day

There is a thread on the Adoptive Families community forum titled, “Open adoption and Mother’s Day.”

An adoptive mother of a 7-month old is going to visit with her daughter’s birthmother the day before Mother’s Day. The baby’s bmom wants to visit the baby on Mother’s Day. The amom wants to spend her first Mother’s Day with her “immediate family”, and her mother and mother-in-law. The baby’s bmom has continued to ask to spend at least a little time on Mother’s Day with the baby. The amom doesn’t want to.

Notice that she apparently defines “immediate family” as herself, her partner/spouse, and her daughter. She stated, “we wanted to spend that day as an immediate family, or with our moms.”

To sum up the 20+ responses, most people said that the day before Mother’s Day should be a fine compromise (some people even mentioned that it is Birthmother’s Day, although that’s controversial in the birthmother community). A few people went further and said, essentially, “If you give in now, you’ll have to give in every time – Christmas, other holidays, etc.”

I said:

“It is your first Mother’s Day, and it’s not unreasonable to want your child to yourself that day. You’re already seeing your child’s birthmother the day before. I wouldn’t necessarily mention the fact that it’s “Birthmother’s Day”, but that you’re celebrating Mother’s Day together the day before.

… I think the FIRST Mother’s Day is a big event, often especially so for adoptive mothers. While later in your child’s life, she may want to spend Mother’s Day with BOTH of her mothers, you want this first Mother’s Day just for you.

I don’t see this whole slippery slope thing that others see, and I don’t see any inherent problem in birth parents wanting to spend some time on holidays with their children. But the first Mother’s Day, many adoptive moms want that to themselves, and I don’t believe that’s selfish.

My online friend Lori wrote that the amom should put herself in her daughter’s shoes, and asks, “What might this look like for her when she’s 7 years old?” Might her daughter want to spend Mother’s Day with both of her moms? The reason that the amom doesn’t want to spend Mother’s Day with the bmom is about who gets to claim the child. The amom doesn’t need to be the only claimer. “It will serve your daughter well as she grows up to be able to claim and be claimed by you both.”

Lori makes a mostly good point. I’m going to disagree with two parts of it, but first, I’ll agree with some of it. Adoptive moms do have to accept and be OK with the fact that their (our) children have two mothers. It’s just how it is. It doesn’t make amoms less than biological moms who parent their children, but it does make us different.

The first part I disagree with is that the mother should think of Mother’s Day from her daughter’s perspective. Any other holiday, I’d be totally down with that. I’d encourage it. But Mother’s Day is the one day that celebrates mothers. It’s the one day that mom should get whatever she wants (within reason, of course). Some moms don’t even want to spend time with their children on Mother’s Day. They see it as a day off. Then, they can come home to a meal they didn’t cook and see their kids and say, “I missed you today. I love you. Thank you!” If the kids want to go bowling with mom for Mother’s Day, that’s great. They can do it the day before, or the week after. My point is, the only good thing (as far as I’m concerned) about Mother’s Day, is that mom gets what she wants. And yes, by “mom” I mean the everyday, in and out, always there mom.

The second part I disagree with is that the amom doesn’t need to be the only claimer. In the long term, this is completely true. But right now, for the first Mother’s Day, she does need to be the only claimer. A lot of adoptive moms have spent years waiting to be a mom. I remember what it felt like to have my arms literally ache for the baby I didn’t yet have. This year, for the first time, this mom has her baby. This baby is still pretty new. She does need the chance to claim her. She needs to feel that she has the right to do so.

As the months and years go by, there will be less of a need to claim. She’ll realize that a child can be loved by all sorts of different people. This love will not diminish the mom’s attachment to the child. But right now, the amom still needs to form and live that attachment.

I’m not doing a very good job at explaining this. I wish I could come up with a good analogy.

On a separate Facebook group, Lori and another adoptive mom lamented the responses to the amom’s post. The other adoptive mom said, “seems like she was looking for others to help her say no and not think about anyone else” and another person said the amom was being “dismissive” of the bmom.

What about spending the day before Mother’s Day with the bmom is dismissive? They obviously have a very open relationship, in terms of visits. I don’t think it’s dismissive to say, “I need this. I’m sorry it makes you unhappy.”

In future years, I hope that they can all celebrate together, if that’s what all of them want. But for the first Mother’s Day, I don’t think this amom is being selfish by visiting with her daughter’s bmom the day before, and keeping the precise day of Mother’s Day for herself.

6 thoughts on “Open Adoption and Mother’s Day

  1. I waited so many mothers days alone and isolated. While we were TTC I couldn’t go to church on Mothers day, while we waited to adopt I couldn’t go to church on Mothers Day. Had D wanted to spend Mothers Day with us I would have been heart broken that I again couldn’t go to church on Mothers Day. More then any other holiday Mothers Day was always the most painful for me while we waited. Holidays in our house because of my medical job and DH being a police officer are rarely celebrated on the holiday themselves- I’d have no problem seeing D on any other holiday except Mothers Day.

    I try to stay away from the Adoption forums because they can get judgmental fast.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your opinion!

      I stayed away from forums for awhile, then I just cut back on them. Now that Adoptive Families has the “communities”, I’ve been on there, sort of trying to be an open adoption advocate.

  2. hello there! I’m the adoptive mom who started the original thread on the adoptive families forum that apparently has caused such a stir. 🙂 today I actually stumbled upon the facebook group where other adoptive moms were discussing my thread, so I read the comments about how I was just looking for people to agree with me and was being dismissive. I try to not let things like that bother me, because obviously those people do not know me OR our situation except from what I’ve shared. we see our daughter’s birth mom monthly, and care for her very much. I just wanted to say that I loved this blog post and actually completely agree with what you’ve shared, as far as what you agreed and disagreed with in people’s responses! thank you so much for sharing!

    just wanted to speak up and say hello, I’m a real person, a loving mom, and doing my very best to navigate a 7 month new open adoption relationship the very best way I can. 🙂 every open adoption looks different. I’m wary of those who seem to strongly believe that ones that look different from theirs are less healthy or loving. it was very… bizarre reading facebook threads of women talking about ME, let me tell you! I had no idea I would cause such a stir. ha! anyways. your post is right on. thanks for sharing!

    • Nice to meet you Stacey! I’m glad you don’t mind my using your post as inspiration for my blog. Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

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