I have always stood from my seat when the pastor called for all mothers to be honored on Mother’s Day. Though I had no children in the nursery, nor by my side, I was—am—a mother. I stood, even then, sixteen years ago, at the age of seventeen, and every year since, because I understood I was—am—standing against forgotten motherhoods.
For my sisters-in-triad, my fellow birth mothers, the women who lovingly and thoughtfully made an adoption plan, I arise from my seat in their honor. I stand for my birth daughter because she not only made me a mother, she is, without caution or regret, loved more than mere words can express.
Triggers of Grief on Mother’s Day
The weight of grief from longing for a child is enough to bow the knees and bring you crashing to the ground, both physically and emotionally. The first two years after I placed my daughter up for adoption were knee bowing, gut-wrenching, survival mode years. After hard, intentional work on my mental/emotional health I reached a place where I was able to thrive, not just survive.
Even though I had mostly bright and beautiful days after those first two years, I dreaded Mother’s Day as it was laced hard and heavy with grief.Seeing women radiate their joy from Mother’s Day morning was something I had dreamed of for myself. I painted pictures in my mind of breakfast served in bed with handpicked flowers, likely dandelions, and coloring pages colored with pride.
My mornings on Mother’s Day after I placed a child for adoption were a far cry from what I dreamed. For years I would dread this coming day as it was just a reminder of what I had lost. Though I chose adoption, and though I do not regret giving my daughter a different life than the one I was suffering through, none of that spared me from my grief.
Standing for Our Forgotten Motherhood
Grief is not like baggage that one can put down and simply walk away from. It’s more like a wound that must be intentionally nursed to health. Once it is healed, it still aches from time to time and needs our tender attention. Mother’s Day irritated my wound but standing when the pastor called for all mothers to rise to be honored was part of my healing regiment.
Had I been standing for myself among the sea of smiling mothers I likely would have chickened out and remained in my seat. But because I made the conscious choice to stand for my birth daughter and sisters-in-triad I had just enough gusto in my knees to spring me forward when my motherhood was being beckoned by the pastor for congregational recognition.
It was an extremely vulnerable act of my love for the aforementioned women, but one I felt a sense of duty for. Birth mothers are often forgotten, unrecognized as mothers who make the choice to take care of the lives inside our wombs and then to make an alternative parenting plan to give our children different, prayerfully better lives. We remember and for the women who do not feel safe to speak their truth I stand in remembrance of you.
Birth Mother’s Day
For many women who have placed a child for adoption, standing on Mother’s Day is more than what their hearts and minds can bear. Seeing the joy of mothers around them can make the grief they feel a lot harder and heavier than they alone can carry. In the early ’90s, a group of birth mothers recognized this and decided to create a day specifically for birth mothers. The Saturday before Mother’s Day is now dedicated as a day to recognize and honor mothers who placed their child for adoption.
Sixteen years later, I am still standing among the mothers in my church. My motherhood is a bit different all these years later. My husband of almost eleven years and I have three children ranging from eight to two years old. So, when my title is called to stand to be recognized, I stand for the three children I parent and I continue to stand for my birth child and my beloved sisters-in-triad. This year I am not sure I will have the honor to stand in church. But even if I’m watching my church in my family room I will arise in remembrance of our motherhoods.