A common refrain among pro-lifers is that adoption is a beautiful choice that gives a baby life, while also helping a mother who isn’t ready to be a parent. And this is true: adoption is a wonderful thing, especially in recent years, with open adoptions growing in popularity. Still, too often, birth mothers are left in the background when it comes to adoption — but there are movements working to change that.
Virtually everyone is familiar with Mother’s Day; it’s celebrated each year in the United States on the second Sunday in May. But a new holiday, Birth Mother’s Day, is celebrated the day before to honor the love and sacrifice of the women who make adoption possible. Originally created in 1990, this year’s celebration, today, May 9th — is the 30th anniversary.
According to Lifetime Adoption, it’s not unusual for birth mothers to receive less acknowledgement and appreciation than they deserve, which is why they support Birth Mother’s Day. Noting that adoption involves another special person, Lifetime Adoption pointed out that it was “someone who had deep feelings of loss and sadness on that day,” referring to birth mothers, and urged adoptive families to always remember what they went through to make the adoptive family complete.
We love birthmoms! We know that they have chosen to make the courageous parenting decision to place their child for adoption. So we bless them with gift baskets of love. Check out some behind-the-scenes footage… 😍 (You can send any birthmom basket item donations to: The Radiance Foundation PO Box 1332 Purcellville, VA 20132)
Posted by The Radiance Foundation on Monday, May 4, 2020
“She has gone through a great ordeal to bring you this day. Without her, none of you would have come together,” Lifetime Adoption wrote. “We must never forget this very important woman who, by strength of character, or difficulty in circumstances, or both, opted to give the gift of a child to those who could not have one. For this reason alone they deserve respect, recognition, consideration, thoughtfulness and kindness, from those who benefit from their adoption decision, especially on National Birth Mother’s Day.”
Lifetime Adoption encouraged adoptive families to celebrate Birth Mother’s Day in some way, depending on the relationship with her. However the birth mother is acknowledged, what’s important is that her sacrifice is remembered: because choosing to allow someone else to parent your child is an enormous, heartbreaking decision. And too often, that decision is downplayed or ignored.
Adam Pertman, President and CEO of the National Center on Adoption and Permanency, spoke with Every Mother Counts and said birth mothers are often “considered an afterthought.”
“There are millions of mothers alive today who’ve been through this experience and, without over-generalizing, we can say it’s terribly difficult for all of them,” he explained. “Every first/birth mother feels some level of grief and loss and in many cases they also feel shame that they were unable to parent their child. This is true even when the mother thinks it’s the best decision she can make for herself and her child. And for women who were pressured, or had no choice but to part with their babies, the emotional and psychic toll can be particularly traumatic. When you carry a child, you can’t just give it away like an old record player and not think about it. It’s going to be part of you forever.”
He also explained that birth mothers typically don’t have many resources offered to them after placing their child for adoption, and the reason they’re so often ignored is because historically, adoption was for unwed mothers who were shamed into their decision — and never allowed to see their babies again.
“[T]o support that attitude, we developed adoption as an institution whose laws and policies were built on secrecy,” he said. “We developed a culture where we didn’t even tell our own children they were adopted. Thankfully, attitudes around pregnancy and adoption have evolved, but remnants of that culture still remain. Even today, many first/birth mothers tell only their closest confidants what they’ve been through.”
Thankfully, things are slowly, but surely, changing. The Radiance Foundation, for example, has launched a program to send gift baskets to birth mothers. “In the adoption triad of birthparents, adoptees and adoptive families, birth moms are so often forgotten,” Radiance Foundation co-founder Ryan Bomberger said in a statement to Live Action News.
“Our Sally’s Lambs outreach was created to make birth moms feel cherished and give voice to birth moms, like our Board member Kristin DePola,” he continued. “The ministry is named after Bethany Bomberger’s best friend’s mother — Sally DeAngelo — who was a teen mom, who placed her son for adoption. Sally ended up getting married and had more children, but dedicated her life to helping single moms in need. She and her husband would house pregnant moms and help them and their babies with material, spiritual and emotional needs.”
Culturally, birth mothers do not get the respect, attention, and appreciation they deserve. They’re still largely kept invisible. Consider, for example, any “inspirational” adoption video you’ve ever seen where adoptive parents see their baby for the first time. Typically, it’s a video filled with the adoptive parents’ overwhelming joy and happiness, but rarely is there any mention of the birth mother, let alone acknowledgement of her pain and how she’s lost a major piece of her heart. Birth Mother’s Day should be just the first step towards erasing that invisibility.
Adoption is a beautiful thing, and that should never be downplayed. Yet the reality of what adoption entails must also be seen, as should the heroism of the birth mothers who make it possible.
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