Friday, May 8th, 2020
Mother’s and Father’s Day can be difficult celebrations for adoptive families to navigate. In this article Kira, a 21-year-old who was born in China and adopted by a Canadian family, shares how her family celebrates, and how they acknowledge the importance of her birth family.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the future, present, and mother-figures out there!
Mother’s Day is a day where you celebrate and show your appreciation for your Mom, as well as anyone who may have taken care of you as a mother would. Modern Mother’s Day originated from the USA in the early 20th century and is celebrated in Canada on the second Sunday of May (although the date differs depending on the country).
Anna Jarvis pushed for Mother’s Day to be a national holiday after her mother, a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers in the American Civil War, died. She wanted to commemorate her mother for her work and set aside a day to honour all Mothers.
Mother’s Day was first recognized in 1911, three years after Jarvis’s mother had passed. Today, Mother’s Day, or a form of it, is celebrated in countries such as the USA, Canada, Australia, South Korea (Parent’s Day) Argentina (Dia de la Madre), Israel, China, and many countries in Europe and Southeast Asia. There are other holidays that celebrate family members such as Father’s Day, Sibling Day, and Grandparents Day.
Mother’s Day as an adoptee
As a Chinese adoptee, I often get asked how I celebrate holidays that revolve around family members. Do I celebrate my birth family? Do I only celebrate those in my family now? How do my parents react on days like today, when my very existence is based on my birth parents? Or do I even celebrate it at all? For the sake of this post, I’ll only answer pertaining to Mother’s Day, but the answers are the same for all similar holidays.
Simple answer: I do celebrate it!
Normally, my brother, Theo, and I would make my mom a special Mother’s Day breakfast of pancakes or waffles. Theo likes to cut a bouquet of flowers from our garden, place them in a vase, and centre it on the kitchen table during breakfast. We usually get her a small gift and card. Then we spend the day or half of the day doing something she likes to do such as hiking, bowling, or just spending time together.
In recent years, I have also started texting my mother-figures thanking them for loving and supporting me like a daughter.
“My parents always recognize my birth parents and how important they are in my story.”
Today’s celebration was a little different because my Mom is in the Netherlands visiting family. I called her last night (she’s nine hours ahead so technically it was Mother’s Day for her) and wished her a happy Mother’s Day.
We talked about what she plans to do for the day and her trip. She ended the phone call with, “Don’t forget to look at the moon tonight and thank your birth Mother.” I promised her I would.
That’s one of my favourite parts about celebrating Mother’s Day and Father’s Day: my parents always recognize my birth parents and how important they are in my story.
I am very lucky. Not all parents of adoptees recognize or even discuss their child’s birth family with them. It’s not uncommon for the subject of finding the birth family, or just their existence, to never come up. Adoptees have expressed feeling belittled and being deemed ungrateful by their families if they mention their birth parents.
However, it is normal for an adoptee to think about their birth families, especially on holidays like these. How could we just shut out the people who created us? If you have adopted friends, please be aware that they may be feeling more emotionally fragile on holidays like these and offer a listening ear and support. I understand it’s difficult to imagine how adoptees feel if you aren’t one. However, just knowing a friend is willing to listen to your concerns and thoughts helps us tremendously.
I don’t categorize my family and birth family on who is my ‘real family’. They both are important: my birth family for creating me and my family for nurturing my genetic and non-genetic traits to help me become who I am today. Both are crucial to my story and I will always be grateful for that. So yes, Mom, I will thank my birth mother as I stare at the moon tonight. I promise.
Kira Johnson was adopted when she was about 4 months old and brought to Toronto, Ontario. Kira and her family later moved tho their current home in British Columbia. She has two brothers, who aren’t adopted, and is attending college to complete her BBA. Kira is passionate about different cultures, making people happy, body image, and adoption!
Kira runs a blog to talk about her own experience with adoption, as well as to share her thoughts, life experiences, and opinions. Visit Kira’s blog here.