April 2018 – we were on our way to a family visit with QueenBre’s birthmom. I was nervous. I had something to give her. Would she think that I was crossing a line? Would she even want it? When should I give it to her? What if a Mother’s Day gift hurt her feelings? It must be so painful for her to not share her very first Mother’s Day with her child. I couldn’t even imagine. Anxious tears rolled down my cheeks as I drove. I prayed that her birthmom would see my heart and my love for her.
A few weeks earlier, my mother-in-law did some canvas foot and handprints for Mother’s Day gifts for herself and me. As we were making them, I asked if she had an extra canvas for Bre’s birthmom. Of course she did and she didn’t hesitate to pass it over to me. We attempted to make a heart shape with Bre’s little feet. I drew and colored some hearts at the top for good measure even though the sharpie hadn’t dried, labeled it with Bre’s name, and the date we made it. At the bottom I wrote “HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY 2018”.
I texted my agency social worker a picture. “Do you think this is a good idea?” He responded, “I think it’s fine. I think it’s nice to acknowledge her motherhood despite the current situation.” I sighed. Ok, so I totally wasn’t off base. A few days later, we showed up for our scheduled visit. Prior to leaving the visitation room, I handed Bre’s birthmom a photo album with photos since our last visit, as well as the Mother’s Day gift we made. “Just a little something for you since Mother’s Day is coming up,” I said. She took the items and with gratitude, smiled and said thank you.
I left the room while they had their visit and sat in the lobby. I felt relief from the anxiety that I carried that she would not appreciate the items I brought for her. I hope she knew my heart. I hope she knew that I wanted her to feel special and loved. I wanted her to know that even though Bre wasn’t with her for her first Mother’s Day, we would make sure that Bre knew her birthmother loved her. That’s all I ever want for my daughter: for her to know her birthmom loved her despite the circumstance of Bre coming to live with us.
As foster/adoptive parents, we walk a fine line during many mainstream celebrations. Our families are different and diverse in a way that is not really acknowledged. When Mother’s Day rolls around, my daughter has 2 mothers to celebrate. So how can we honor our kids’ birthmom during Mother’s Day, whether they currently have contact and even if they aren’t currently present in their life?
Write your child’s birthmother a card/have your child write her a card.
For any foster child who is still in contact with their birthmother, a card is a great way to show them love and acknowledge them as a part of your foster child’s life. Hopefully you or your child are able to give it to their birthmom directly at a visit or through a caseworker. For us, we aren’t sure when our next contact will be with her as the ball is in her court to contact our agency for pictures and updates of Bre. After some thought, I have decided that each year we will purchase a card for Bre’s birthmom. This year, I will trace Bre’s hand, write her name, the date on the card, and a little message. When Bre is old enough, she can write her own card if she wants, but I will continue to write something for her birthmom. At some point, if we are contacted, I can pass along the Mother’s Day cards. If she doesn’t reach out, maybe one day Bre will search for and find her birthmother. Maybe she will want to give them to her. I don’t know. But every year I want to celebrate and honor her. By doing something for her birthmother every years leads me to #2…
Talk about your child’s birthmother.
When we talk about our kid’s birthparents, it is our way to tell foster/adoptive children that it’s ok for them to talk about their birthparents. We want to honor Bre’s past and the fact that she has another mom and dad (I mean, it’s quite obvious since we are a transracial family). My goal is to create a safe space so Bre feels comfortable enough to ask questions and talk about her family of origin. One day I will be able to tell Bre how thankful I am for her birthmom because she could have made a different choice in today’s day and age. But she didn’t. She chose to become a mom. And because of her I was able to have a daughter. I will be able to tell her that despite all the hard stuff in her life, Bre’s birthmom loved her deeply. I will tell Bre that she has her birthmother’s eyes and they are so gorgeous. I will continue to talk about and honor Bre’s birthmom as long as I live.
Pray for your child’s birthmother.
As you sit down for Mother’s Day lunch, close your eyes, and fold your hands together to pray in thanks, remember to include your child’s birthmother. We regularly pray for Bre’s birthparents prior to bedtime (peace, safety, security), but on special occasions, I want to make sure they are included with all the other’s we include, ie “Thank you for mommy, Mimi, Nonna, and Bre’s birthmom. Thank you for the impact they have all had on our lives by being moms.” By including birthparents with other members of the family, you are by extension including them as part of your extended family and sending the message of inclusion, thankfulness, and love. Such a simple but powerful message that our foster/adoptive kids see us celebrate and honor their birthparents.
These are just a few ideas I came up with this week as I have reflected on the upcoming celebratory weekend. What are some ways you can think of to celebrate or honor your foster/adoptive child’s birthmother this weekend? Share them below!