When a birth mother makes an adoption plan, she is often sacrificing her own desires and feelings for the good of her child, whom she loves deeply. This deep love translates into inviting another family into her child’s story and entrusting that child into their care and protection. It can be difficult for some adoptive parents to know how to fully honor this sacrificial love. In an effort to gather some creative ideas, I thought it would be most appropriate to reach out to adoptive families that are navigating this already.
Here are some of the responses I received when I posed the question, “What are some ways you’ve honored your child’s birth mother?”
- We had flowers delivered to her on Mother’s Day.
- We include her in our morning prayers each day.
- We send her a card and pictures on her birthday as a little reminder that we are here for her and thinking about her on her day as well.
- There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about her.
- The love we have for her to make that decision is hard to even put into words and we hope she knows that no matter what life brings, our daughter will always know the love her birth mother had for her to give her the best life possible.
- We have photos of our daughter’s first mom and first siblings in her room. We talk about them every day.
- We honor her when people ask questions. “Our daughter has two mommies who both love her.” We try to use adoptee and first mom positive language. No-"giving up", No- "she is so lucky", rather, "she is so loved" instead.
- For our daughter’s first birthday, her first mom and I made a Shutterfly book together to honor her story. We read it whenever our daughter wants and read it along with the book her first mom made at the time of placement.
- We send Mother’s Day and Christmas packages including artwork our daughter makes.
- We FaceTime about once a quarter. We FaceTime for birthdays and Christmas morning.
- Our daughter had some skin issues and we were in close contact with birth mom to give insight on siblings’ histories with similar issues. It made her apart of helping find solutions to help her daughter.
- Our daughter made a handprint craft and we sent it and a care package to her for Mother’s Day.
- Birth Mom and siblings were included in our daughter’s first birthday and we honored her there. We gave her loads of photos and a banner we had made with monthly photos of our daughter’s growth.
- We keep routine in our visits so she always has something to look forward to.
- We remember her birthday and her son’s birthday and always send them gifts.
- We send her texts on holidays wishing her well and thanking her.
- Probably the biggest thing I’ve done to honor her is to talk about her to others. Naturally people are curious about our daughter’s birth mom and the “situation” from which she came. Usually they can’t help themselves and make assumptions that she “gave away” her child and then the judgement starts. I make sure to say well that’s not how I see it. In fact, she made an enormous sacrifice for our daughter because she loved her so much and wanted to give her a better life than she could at that time. I usually end with, she is brave and strong.
As evident in many of the responses I received, honoring a birth mother can be done through thoughts, words, and actions. Being intentional about the language used when talking about your child’s birth mother to others can reduce stigma and encourage others to think about adoption and the choices made by birth parents in a more positive light. Talking openly with your children about their birth parents can help them develop a fuller sense of not only where they came from, but also provide space for them to ask questions and process difficult emotions. Finding ways to connect with birth parents, whether through in-person visits, phone calls, or sending special gifts, not only helps communicate to them a recognition of their sacrifices, but also invites them into continued participation in the lives of their children.
Here are a few other ideas you could consider:
- Purchase a tree or flower in her honor and plant it together on a special day (i.e. child’s birthday, Birth Mother’s Day, etc.)
- Release a balloon with a special prayer or note written by you and/or your child to your child’s birth mother (especially if you do not have direct contact)
- Invite her to participate in special events as your child grows
- Provide opportunities for your child to create homemade cards or crafts to send to birth mothers on special days throughout the year
written by Kara Long from ideas shared by NCA Adoptive Families