Spring’s here, and Mother’s Day is around the corner. In this section, we offer a variety of perspectives on how to celebrate when adoption is part of your story.
When Mother’s Day hurts
Holidays are a natural time to reflect on family and the past. For obvious reasons, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are extremely common times for adopted children to feel down or to have a lot of questions about their birth parents.
Here are some tips to help you help your kids.
- Stay open to questions without judgement. This will help your child feel safe expressing their feelings.
- Incorporate traditions that honour your child’s birth parents and/or heritage.
- Reflect and talk about the possible experience of a child’s birth mother.
- Encourage the child to write in a journal if talking is difficult.
- Be prepared to lend a listening ear and a loving voice during these sensitive times.
- If you have openness with your child’s mother, reach out to her and ask how she would like to be celebrated.
If your adoption isn’t open
Sometimes, adoptive families—especially those who adopt from foster care—can’t have a relationship with their child’s original family. Here are some suggestions from AFABC Family Support Counsellor Correen Coons for families in that situation.
Mother’s Day is a difficult day for birth moms. Instead of feeling joy, they may feel grief, loss, and shame. Our children’s moms are still mothers. Most would love a simple recognition on Mother’s Day.
Acknowledge your child’s birth mom with your child on Mother’s Day. Create a family ritual such as lighting a candle, writing a letter (even just a few lines) and putting it in a keepsake box, buying flowers and displaying them in the home, or planting a tree in the garden.
For those families that don’t have openness, take a few minutes to talk about the children’s birth mom. Acknowledge that Mother’s Day is a difficult day and that she is thinking about her children and misses them.
Adoptive families who have challenging relationships with first families can acknowledge their child’s mom by sending a “thinking of you” letter and pictures through the registry or via email.
Maybe it should just be Mothers’ Day?
We all know it takes a village to raise a child. This May, why not nudge that apostrophe over and call it Mothers’ Day instead? What a great chance to acknowledge all of those who mother us! Here are some ideas for people to celebrate:
- Adoptive mothers
- Biological mothers
- Foster mothers
- Big Sisters or other community volunteers
- Childcare providers
- Fathers, uncles, and grandfathers!