Each year as Mother’s Day approaches, I begin thinking about a special group of women: those who became mothers through adoption within the past year. I love to think about what this first Mother’s Day means to them—how happy and proud and relieved and blessed and exhausted they must feel. I delight in reflecting on their adoption stories and thinking about how much their lives have changed since last year at this time. And I always wish they could have known last year that on May 14, 2017, they would finally be the ones receiving flowers and cards and Happy Mother’s Day greetings.
I am writing now to those of you who are celebrating your first Mother’s Day and to those of you who are mom’s-to-be. I’ll start with the second group, as I know how hard it is to wait and wonder. I recognize that even addressing you as “mom’s-to-be” brings up feelings. “How does she know?” you may wonder. “What if it never works for me/us and I never get to be a mom?” Not to “pull rank,” but in nearly 40 years working in adoption, I’ve never seen it not work.
So how do you handle Mother’s Day when you are waiting to adopt? For many it means spending time with your own mother or with other women whom you love and cherish. You probably want to do it out of the Mother’s Day limelight—the restaurants all geared up for the holiday. Better to host a brunch or dinner at your home or visit your mom—or other cherished women—at her home or a park. To the extent that you are out and about, I hope you will remind yourself that among the young women with strollers and the old women with grandchildren are adoptive mothers. I hope, also, that you can “keep the faith” and know that your first Mother’s Day is on a near or distant horizon. If only you could know now what lies ahead.
And so it is for hope and inspiration that I offer up a few of the stories of women celebrating their first Mother’s Day . . .
There is Robin, who endured five miscarriages before she and her husband, Jon, chose adoption. Exhausted by their pregnancy losses, Robin and Jon took a long time to complete adoption paperwork, get through their home study, and create a profile. Aware that they had moved along at a snail’s pace, Robin and Jon were the last people to imagine they would get a call a month after completing a profile that their daughter, Ava, would burst into their lives two months later.
Amy’s story was somewhat the opposite. A determined and organized single woman, Amy anticipated that adoption would be challenging for her. She barreled through paperwork and profile and mustered up all her resources to “put myself out there in the adoption universe”. And she waited . . . and she waited some more . . . and more still. Then a call came. A baby girl was born in a hospital in Arizona. “How soon can you be here?” the hospital social worker asked. Without asking any questions, Amy said, “As soon as any airline at any price will fly me there.”
And I get a extra sweet feeling when I think of Laura, who joined her family through adoption 40 years ago. Laura forged ahead through years of infertility treatments before even considering adoption—like many adoptees she felt a deep longing for a genetic connection. It was her husband, Roy’s patience and her own mother’s reminders of how much joy Laura’s adoption had brought her, that enabled Laura to move forward. They were picked by a young single mom who herself was adopted and who said she chose Laura because of this connection.
The list goes on, but I hope you get the idea—adoption DOES work and you WILL be a mom. I hope that Mother’s Day 2018 is your time to celebrate, and when that day comes, you will look back on this Mother’s Day and say, “If only I’d known then . . .”
And back to those of you who are soon to celebrate your first Mother’s Day: Enjoy! I smile simply thinking of what the day will mean for you. Although I do not know the specifics of your story, I do know that you travelled a challenging, and possibly long and arduous, path to parenthood. You do not wear it on your face as you walk through a park pushing a stroller or bounce your baby in the water in infant swim class, but you know it in your heart. You were brave. You are flexible and adaptive, resourceful and resilient. You know how to keep faith. You have explored the dimensions of kinship. You know what it means to hope. You know the meaning of love. It is my great pleasure to wish you a very Happy Mother’s Day.