Friday, May 7, 2010

Happy Birthmother Day or Happy Adopter Day

**Disclaimer – This post will most likely be offensive to some. In order to make my point, I have used demeaning stereotypes and insulting assumptions when referring to adoptive moms. But I do hope those who read here will realize that I did so to reflect the same stereotypes and insulting assumptions that are laid on First Mom’s constantly, and are accepted in our current culture. My hope is, those Adoptive Moms I know and respect will understand why I did this and that others who read here, will finish this post and realize the point I was trying to make.**

I wonder sometimes what it would be like if the terms of Birthmother and Adoptive Mother were reversed in this disgusting so-called holiday we celebrate every year on the Saturday before Mother’s Day.

I wonder what it would be like if instead it was accepted and expected that all First Mom’s had all rights to celebrate Mother’s Day while Adoptive Moms were given the Saturday before as “Happy Adoptive Mother’s Day.

Or let’s even take that a step further as there is a dislike by many for the term Adopter just as there is a dislike by many for the word Birthmother. So how about a “Happy Adopter Day” on the Saturday before Mother’s Day?

Would that sit well with many Adoptive Moms? To not be acknowledged on Mother’s Day but to – hey – in fairness – at least have the day before to be recognized as the “lesser” mother in some form or another.

It is pretty much understood by First Mom’s that we really don’t deserve to celebrate Mother’s Day for the children we have lost to adoption. At least not in the way other Mother’s do. I mean, as it is often said, we aren’t the ones who change their diapers, stay up with them at night when they are sick, help them with their homework, etc . . .etc . . .etc . . .

So Mother’s Day really isn’t for us because we aren’t our children’s “real” mother and if we do by chance get to hear from our children, spend time with them on Mother’s Day, then we are SO lucky and should be grateful that their Adoptive Family is kind and loving enough to allow us this.

But what if society’s thoughts were reversed? What if the train of thought was that Adoptive Moms were the ones who really didn’t deserve to celebrate Mother’s Day? I mean, after all, they did not carry and nurture their child for nine months of pregnancy. They don’t share any blood or heritage with them. Heck they might even be of a completely different race.

So they aren’t exactly the “real” moms and really shouldn’t expect Mother’s Day to be about them in any way. And if their child’s First Family should actually include them on this day, then they should be grateful that they are kind and loving enough to do so.

I would venture to guess, if that were the accepted train of thought by the majority of society, there would be an awful lot of pissed off, hurt and devastated Adoptive Moms out there.

But let’s even take that a step further.

In an attempt to acknowledge all the “great sacrifices” us First Moms have made by losing our children, many are at least willing to give us the day before Mother’s Day to be recognized. It’s a great thing too, isn’t it? We get to be celebrated for not exactly being moms but for at least making that, oh so terrible “choice” of giving up our children when we realized we would just not be good enough to be a mother to our children.

All day long on that day before “real” mothers are recognized and celebrated and loved by their children, we are patted on our backs, told how brave and selfless we are and what a wonderful thing we did by realizing that we just weren’t good enough for our children. No, we don’t even deserve the actual day to be recognized as “real” mothers but we should all be happy and feel better that we are separated again from them and acknowledged as the “different” kind of people we are.

But what if the Adoptive Moms were the “different” kind of people. What if they were celebrated on the day before “real” mother’s had their time? How would that go over?

Would they accept that pat on the back, being told how brave and selfless they are for being unable to bare children of their own? Would they be okay knowing they had a separate day created just for them because they didn’t actually deserve the “real” Mother’s Day, but should – hey – be okay with that because they realized that their failures in not being able to have children of their own didn’t mean they couldn’t make the best loving choice by adopting someone else’s baby. And that they deserve to be honored and respected – just not on the day for “real” mothers because that wouldn’t be right, because their choices didn’t exactly make them “those kind” of mothers.

I wonder how that kind of mind set would make Adoptive Moms feel. I wonder if they would find themselves feeling “less than.” Unworthy of actually being able to call themselves a mom on the one day a year set aside for them.

Birthmother’s Day, to me, is an absolute insult to all those mothers who have lost their children to adoption. And I believe, if the situations were reversed, it would be just as much of an insult to all those mothers who have adopted their children.

On Sunday, my oldest son, who I lost to adoption over twenty-two years ago, will spend time with both of his “real” mothers. There will be no Birthmother’s Day in this house. I have come too far in my healing to allow myself to be insulted in such a way.

I won’t be online for that day. I will not expose myself to the happy, happy beemommie wishes that are downgraded to a separate day because they are not worthy of the actual Mother’s Day. And my only thoughts will be of all those First Mom’s who feel they should be grateful for being degraded to the day before “real” mothers are celebrated. For those who don’t realize that they are just as important and just as “real” to their children as the adoptive parents who will be celebrating on Sunday without thinking of how they would feel if the situations were reversed and they were the ones who were viewed as not “deserving” of the celebration and love and instead given another day as the consolation prize because of all the “brave and selfless choices” they supposively made.


  1. in the country I'm lucky enough to live in no-one would stand for this ridiculous and demeaning nonsense.I think it's a disgrace that adopters were allowed to hijack this day and Hallmark re making money out of it.Tomorrow is Mothers'Day in my country...I'll be remembering my mother who gave birth to me and the other women who were mother figures to me, some alive, some not.

  2. Oh my... turn the tables on them and make them celebrate "Adoptive Mothers Day", seperate from mothers day where we are ALL honored?

    What a concept, except for the fact that it would cause an outrage and absolute uproar... because, after all, they got to "change their diapers, stay up with them at night when they are sick, help them with their homework, etc...".

    Little do they ever stop to realize or think that we natural mothers would have given anything for the chance to go back and change what happened so we could be the rightful mothers to do those things, not them. We were exiled from the lives of our children as soon as our role of "incubator" was complete, so those so much more deserving and entitled adoptive mothers could play the role of "mother".

    Now most of them are too selfish to even fathom sharing a day that honors all of us, not just them.

    We are, after all, only the mothers who created, carried and gave birth to our children. That doesn't mean anything, now does it?

    Like hell it doesn't.

  3. Hi, Cassi,

    As always - wonderful and thought provoking post.

    There are prospective adoptive parents out here (me included!) who wholeheartedly agree with you, Cassi. Mother's Day should be for and about ALL mothers - first mothers, adoptive mothers, step mothers, foster mothers - ALL moms.

    No one of us is any more or less important than the other.

    And to create separate holidays ("separate but equal" just doesn't cut it) is, in my view, ridiculous and demeaning.

    Again, thanks for the post and for allowing me a little space to share my thoughts.

    Best and peace.

  4. Hi Cassie,

    When I first heard about and witnessed people celebrating this demeaning day, it completely repulsed me. I never celebrate it. It is just another day to me.

  5. It is absurd and demeaning to have a separate day for first mothers. Mothers of any kind should be honoured on one day, including the dead ones. I mean, if you can honour the dead, why can't you honour a living mother who surrendered a child?

    I support you, Cassi, 100%. Stuff that day.

    BTW, what's a "beemommie"? People keep using this term.

  6. 'beemommie' presumably means a birthmother, as if a cute/yucky/patronising name takes away the pain!

  7. Birthmother's Day is the Adoption Industry's machination and should be flushed down the toilet with the rest of the sh*t they dish up for natural mothers and adoptees.

    Mother's Day is for ALL MOTHERS.

  8. I see little bumble bees all fuzzy and drenched in pollen making other bees happy.

  9. I had not heard of this separate day until this year. I was shocked speechless. Why would they do this???

    I am my daughters second mother. Not her first. I have no right to compartmentalize or change her story from before my time with her. She has another MOTHER.

    Great post - thanks for writing it and sharing!

  10. You nailed this topic, Cassi. Although I posted a short one today, I'm circling back to send people here to read. Thank you.

  11. I had never heard of "birthmothers' day" until this year, and only through these adoption blog. What a bizarre concept. But then, in the world I come from, we didn't think or talk about "birthmothers" at all. What a terrible shame. Happy Mother's Day to you.

  12. Like Raina- I have just recently learned about this...not ok on all levels.

    Beemommie? Shameful.

    Happy Mother's Day Cassi!!

  13. You go girl! I just loved your blog about Adoptive Mother's Day.

    Now why is it that ADOPTION AGENCIES hold "celebrations" or whatever they call them for us birth/first/real mothers...but not for adoptive/REAL mothers...? Because friggin know that giving up our babies sucks and they want to convince us ever afterward that we did the "right thing" and deserve a pat on the head.

    Keep on truckin and raising hell.
    Lorraine from Birth Mother, First Mother Forum

  14. Oh my! I, too, just learned that such a thing as "Birthmother's Day" exists, and I'm appalled! Who in the world came up with that brilliant idea?! This morning as I sat with my daughter on my lap, I thought of her first, very "real" mother. I wish her (and you) a happy Mother's Day. Birthmother's Day? Boo!

  15. Hey...I just linked to it at

  16. I really appreciate this post.
    As a mother by both birth and adoption, I truly never even contemplated the plight of first mothers until we adopted. I have been asking others how they incorporate celebrating their adopted children's first mothers and just heard about this day before celebration. I really appreciate your perspective on this.
    Happy Mother's Day!

  17. To each their own...Call me crazy but I like having a day that is all about me! And I especially LOVE it that it is a day before Mother's day. It's kind of like stickin' it to the a-rents since mine haven't acknowledged me on Mother's Day for YEARS! Be offended if you like, but this "day" was created out of good intentions.

    Especially since there aren't really any appropriate cards to send to one who has placed a child for adoption. Thankfully, Hallmark has yet to jump on the "exploit adoption" bandwagon.

  18. Bravo Cassi!! I just DO NOT GET the need for a "special day". Why? To "celebrate their sacrifice" or the "wonderful gift they gave us"? Blech.

  19. Excellent post and arguement, Cassie!
    The best I've read on the ridiculousness of having a "special" day for those of us who have been made to feel 2nd best as mothers long enough.

    Thank you!

  20. STFU to Hallmark cards.
    Laurel wreaths for Julia Ward Howe, as well as for Anna Jarvis who inspired her.

  21. etropic, what do you celebrate on Happy Birthmother's Day?

  22. etropic, did you know that the reason for the continued existence, promotion, and spread of this "day" is the adoption industry's implication that you are not a mother? and if you are no longer a mother to the child you gave birth to, that means you were nothing more than an incubator or 'convenient uterus.' that's why many are offended by this day: it is a statement that we are not mothers and have no right to be remembered on Mothers Day.

    nevermind what one mother in Seattle intended (and, IMHO, her reasons don't hold water as she is saying it is okay to treat us as "second class" or as throw-away screwed-up former-mothers who can then go wallow and weep in our pain), the industry has taken it on mass-scale to institutionalize it as being their "thank you for the product, you slut, you breeder" mentality.

  23. Though Hallmark ignores the adoption community, one of our own hasn't - Patrick McMahon

    His cards are thoughtful and address many of the situations we live.

  24. Mei Ling~ I don't "celebrate" Birthmohter's day as I AM A mother with or without a day to recognize that fact. I don't let anyone dictate to me how or what I should do/feel when it comes to MY experience with adoption. However, since you asked.. in the past, I have used Birthmother day to reflect upon my life: where I use to be, where I am now & where I want to be in the future. A couple of years I wrote letters to my son, other years I spent the whole day at the spa pampering myself. There have been years where I totally forgot about that day, simply because I was too busy LIVING my life instead of mourning it, like I use to. Birthmother day isn't about celebrating adoption, it's about celebrating the woman who gave birth to her child, regardless of where that child is. This day is SUPPOSE to be about acknowledging these women that society DOESN'T want or refuses to celebrate. It's about standing up for ones self & not being denied any further. As I stated previously, I revel in the fact that this day is specifically before Mother's day. We SHOULD come first as it was our sacrifice that allowed adopters to be mother's in the first place! When adopters can't & WON'T acknowledge birth families or treat them with simple respect as HUMAN BEINGS(as in my case;hence my anger riddled tirade here) does it really surprise you that someone finally had enough & created a day to do just that??? Birthmother day isn't for everyone, but let those who NEED it, have it, without making them feel like crap for wanting to be appreciated; for wanting to find a place to fit in. It's hard to feel like a mother (especially on Mother's Day) when your arms are empty, your soul is aching & your C-sections scar is fresh. I think we can all agree to that. If a single day of recognition is what a newly christened "birthmother" needs in order to start her on the road to recovery, who am I to deny her that? My point it this: No matter what anyone does or attempts(regardless of their intentions) it seems that there is a large group of women who aren't going to be appeased until the word adoption is stricken from our vocabulary completely & all travesties committed in the name of adoption are corrected; and further atrocities at the "hands" of adoption agencies are prevented from happening. NEWS FLASH: That's not going to happen, ever. Be offended by it if you like, but I am appreciative that there is someone out there who felt the same way I did & chose to act & did something; that some one made sure us(birth mom, natural mom, etc insert whatever term one chooses to use) are not acknowledged only in a negative manner. The women who "founded" this day did so because they felt there was a need. And you know what, they were right to do so. Again as I said before, I for one don't need a day (or 2 for that matter) to TELL me what I already know in my heart. However, it is refreshing to see someone step up & acknowledge us "forgotten mothers". It's nice to have the option TO celebrate if I choose to & know that I am not alone & won't be met with disdain. Even if it is just one day (I can hear the snickers now) It's nice to feel as if maybe there is hope that the attitudes toward us (do I dare say it?) *MIGHT* be changing? So if that offends some so be it. Quite frankly, I don't expect any less. How dare someone try to do something nice for someone else who might be hurting & needing something to regain one's self esteem? What a terrible idea huh?

  25. On a side note....I don't even care about Mother's day either. Just like every other candy & card sponsored obligatory holiday, Mother's day is another marketing ploy used to make money. I would much rather my family voice how much they appreciate me when they feel like it & not when dictated to do so by a calender. I would rather have the random hug & kiss from my son for no reason at all except for the fact he wanted me to know that he loves me. I would take that a thousand times more than any flowers, jewelry or card he could ever give me. My family can show me how much they appreciate me by picking up after themselves a little bit more or letting me sleep in occasionally. Mother's day is just another day to me.

    Cedars~ I couldn't disagree with you more. This day was created out of LOVE not as a way to "keep me down". Because if that were the case, there wouldn't be a specific day set aside to honor "birthmothers". It would be much easier to ignore us & deny our existence rather than create a day that is suppose to be about "us". You are COMPLETELY WRONG with your statement of: "did you know that the reason for the continued existence, promotion, and spread of this "day" is the adoption industry's implication that you are not a mother? and if you are no longer a mother to the child you gave birth to, that means you were nothing more than an incubator or 'convenient uterus." That is not fact, that is your opinion so please, don't insult me by substituting your opinion as fact. You are offended because you CHOOSE to be offended. Just like everything else in this world that you may not like or necessarily agree with, if you don't like it, you have the right to disagree & not participate. I will have you know that not all agencies are "baby snatchers". (GASP again!) I know I probably broke some secret allegiance by saying that & no one really wants to hear it but screw it! I'm tired of every time there is anything that is SLIGHTEST bit positive done with, in, or around adoption, that HONORS birthmothers, the same "hens" come out squawking about how it's actually "really bad" & "Don't let them fool you". It's like these people aren't content unless they piss all over someone else's experience & convert them to thinking the same way they do. Do we always have to go "there" or does it just come naturally to be so negative?

    The creation of this day, isn't a conspiracy by the "mean ol' adoption agencies" because saying so implies that ALL agencies are "in cahoots" together. For your information the agency I utilized DIDN'T/DOESN'T adhere to that kind of narrow minded thinking. (Rare, I know, but reputable adoption agencies DO exist! GASP! No matter how much others choose to deny THAT fact) When I was in the process of placing, my counselor looked me straight in the face & told me point blank: "You ARE a parent & you always will be. You became a parent the moment you chose to continue your pregnancy. No one can take that from you. Not even your signature if you chose to relinquish." When I read this post, it made me wonder," How can something so benign be turned into something so hated?" Then I wondered,"Why do I even bother responding when my opinion is not heard, wanted or even entertained?" If I go against the grain I might as well painted a target on my back. I can feel the claws coming out already. I didn't come here to be start a fight, but to simply state that I think the context on which "Birthmother's Day" is being perceived & being represented is inaccurate. Just my opinions of course & we all know what those are worth..

  26. "Birthmother day isn't about celebrating adoption, it's about celebrating the woman who gave birth to her child, regardless of where that child is."

    Hm, taking this bit of logic, then, what about the mothers who kept their children? After all, they gave birth as well, so biologically, they are "birthmothers."

    But their kids will call them "Mom" and celebrate ON Mother's Day.

    You are a mother, yes? Just like any other woman who has given birth? So why *wouldn't* you deserve to be honoured ON Mother's Day? Why do you need a separate day if you already claim the honour of being a mother?

  27. BRAVO! Well said. I have felt that way from the very first time this stupid day was proposed.

    Yes, it was created by mothers who lost children to adoption, albeit, I believe, in error; misguided but with good intent.

    All movements and all opprsse dpeopel stumble along trying to achive recognition when what they really want is EQUAILTY! Look how log adoptees have asked for "opne reocrds" whenwhat they really want and need and ar finally coming to ask for is EQUAL ACCESS.

    Too often we "accept" separate but equal education. Separate drinking fountains was probably a huge improvement over going thirsty all day., not allowed to drink from any public water fountain.

    "But what if the Adoptive Moms were the “different” kind of people."

    They ARE! They are the SUBSTITUTE, stand-in, replacement mother.

    In the 1980s I worked with Harold Cassidy on the baby M surrogacy case which ended with surrogacy being outlawed in NJ.

    We simultaneously attempted to bring attention to - and change - the language. The SURROGATE or replacement mother is the one who contracts for it, especially those days when there were no purely gestational "surrogates."

    Language controls attitudes and social practices.

    All of this is to say that Birth-Mothers day was a baby step toward recognition. Enlightened mothers know that we deserve than a solicitous second-best day.

    I have never attended such an event and never would and never will. It is demeaning IMHO. yet might it not be a fist step out of the closet of shame for some, I believe so.

    My hope would be that if any such events get nay publicity that all sides of the story be reported....that not all of us are in agreement with the "separate" and NOT equal day!

    Late to the party because I had other Mothers' Day issues to battle...which you can read all about at FamilyPreservation.blogspot


  28. Ah etropic, you remind me a young Claud. How long have you been reading about adoption ethics, reform and perspectives from adoptees?

    I would argue with you babe, but I think you're a noob to consider the exploitation in adoption so I'm giving you some slack.

    Man women who have lost children to adoption will fight tooth and nail to prove to themselves that the pain has a purpose and the loss was necessary.

    And I don't want to rob you of that! If you need it, hang on to it girl. But recognize that, at least on my part and Cassi's part I believe, we aren't coming to your blog telling you how to feel and capitalizing every other word to emphasize how right we are.

    Just to say. : )

    On our blogs if no where else, we can tell it like we feel it.

    And Cedar hit the nail on the head as far as I'm concerned.

    Hugs, sorry you lost a child.

  29. That should have been "Man, women" not Man women... who have lost children... lol

    Just so that you know I'm not calling you a Man Woman.

    : )

  30. Back again....all mothers who gave birth have a right to be celebrated on Mother's Day, what's the big problem?

  31. "It's hard to feel like a mother (especially on Mother's Day) when your arms are empty, your soul is aching & your C-sections scar is fresh. I think we can all agree to that."

    No, we cannot all agree to that. I always felt like the mother of my son. This never ceased.

    And if a mother is feeling this way, aching inside for her child, with empty arms, this is a clear sign that she was made to surrender her child against her will, that the surrender should not have happened and did not need to happen. Adoption is meant for children who are unloved and unwanted. Modern child adoption was created in 1851 to serve this purpose and to get the orphans off the streets. The depth of the pain an exiled mother feels indicates just how much she was coerced to perform an act that went against her every instinct.

    But getting back to the topic of whether or not we are mothers: If we feel love for our child, really FEEL the love and the connection, we know the truth of our motherhood. The truth is in those stretch-marks and incisions. The truth is in the way that pregnancy and childbirth irrevocably caused neurological changes to our brains, and how our bodies will forever carry the living cells of our child.

    The creation of "birthmothers day" relegates us to being "second best." And in fact, the term "birthmother" itself means an "non-mother" in the "Positive Adoption Language" terminology set it belongs to. (In PAL, the woman who adopts is defined as the ONLY mother!). So, we are nothing more than incubators. And never mind how "Breeders Day" originated, adoption agencies have latched on to it and 99% of events recognizing this day are now held by agencies and other baby brokers and their *paying* customers.

  32. Etropic wrote: "(Rare, I know, but reputable adoption agencies DO exist! GASP! No matter how much others choose to deny THAT fact)"

    Err ... how much have you read about what constitutes coercive adoption practices? If an agency is "reputable," that does not mean they are ethical, moral, or are not in conflict of interest when dealing with pregnant women.

    I do not know of a single "reputable" agency, because by definition, agencies stay in business by taking money from customers in exchange for babies. It is an industry, a FOR-profit industry, and without the sale of babies, agencies would go under. Hence, they MUST ensure a certain number of mothers will surrender each year in order to stay in business. And to do so, they invariably engage in coercive practices that increase surrender rates by pressuring/persuading/influencing an expectant mother. They are in conflict-of-interest by their very nature: unable to give unbiased counselling to any mother who is considering adoption, because they would lose $25,000 or more of gross profit if she kept her baby.

    Are you telling me that your agency did not engage in any of the practices detailed in the "Coercion Checklist"? Or that they did not deal with expectant mothers but only mothers who had recovered from birth? And that they did not match women with adoptive parents before the surrender papers were signed and all revocation periods over so that such relationships could not influence the mother's decision?

  33. "Rare, I know, but reputable adoption agencies DO exist! GASP! No matter how much others choose to deny THAT fact"

    The sole purpose OF an agency is to give a child to new parents and in exchange, receive a huge sum of money.

    You really need to read this:

    "Because international adoption involves BABIES, so the people involved in the industry couldn’t possibly do evil things, right? IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT THE PRODUCT IS; a company that funnels tremendous amounts of money is going to exploit human beings to maximize profit."

  34. I found this post through ThirdMom and found it very interesting. I am an adoptive mom. I'm a little different and do not refer to my children's Korean mothers and foster mothers and myself as numbered mothers, but titles...just preferential..I think. I am just mom. They have foster mothers and they have Korea moms. I had NO idea there was such a thing as Birthmother's Day. Wow! I had always thought Mother's Day was for us all. I know when that day comes around I think of these two mothers that allowed me 3 more children. We owe them everything and they will never be far from my thoughts....I see them everyday.

    Thanks for posting.


  35. I'm an adoptive mom (international adoption of special needs kids). I have never liked the idea of "birthmother's day" but never could figure out why. Your post was helpful to me becasue it gave me a reason. I heard a quote once that said something to the effect of, "there is nothing to suggest that the title of Mother can only belong to one person". I agree completely and hope that I can raise my kids with that perspective. On Mother's Day we talked about how it's a day to be thankful and express our love for all of the mothers that have been in our life - first moms, foster moms and orphanage workers, and also adoptive moms.

    My kids are still pretty young and don't really "get" Mother's Day yet except that it's a special day when we got to go to a resturant. :) But, I hope that as time goes on I'll be able to continue encouraging them to look at ALL of the moms who have been in their lives and who spend each day loving them whether they are near or far away.

  36. I have thought this very same thing. The truth is, we are our child's reason to give us a wierd name such as: birthmother

    The "mother" who has a title is "adoptive mother" for that is what she reason to pretend.

    Lies, myths and secrets....and pretending. Just plain silly......and causes a lot of pain.

  37. I just came across this post. What a concept. I could just imagine the outrage and the fireworks if the tables were turned. I wonder how anyone could possibly think that we would want to be "honored" on a separate day for being unfit to raise our children? Will the madness ever cease. Great post!

  38. Great Post - looks inactive for a while, wonder what is up with that