Adoptimist Adoption Blog
May 11, 2017

On Mother’s Day, Without Being a Mother


Every May, the store shelves are filled with greeting cards, potted flowers, and heart-shaped jewelry. The holiday that so many relish in is also the holiday that many women dread:  Mother’s Day. 

Mother’s Day is simply one of the hardest times of year for those who are considering or waiting to adopt. Truly, being reminded that you have a mother’s heart, yet you aren’t yet a mother, can be excruciating. You feel as if you are surrounded by those basking in the glory of motherhood while you are an outsider. You yearn to be part of the Mommy Club, yet you have not yet been granted your membership. 

I have been there. 

On my first Mother’s Day without a baby, I was two months past my autoimmune disease diagnosis. I was learning to inject insulin, count carbohydrates, and check my blood sugar. My life consisted of needles and blood. A literally and figuratively painful reminder of my new reality, including the question of how or if I would ever become a mother. I was twenty-four, a newlywed, and completely overwhelmed by the uncertainty of our family’s future. 

The second Mother’s Day, my husband and I were on the cusp of beginning our adoption journey. We were considering which agency to use. We were hopeful, yet terrified. One thing was for certain: we anticipated a short wait. After all, we were a young, educated couple with an adorable house, a commitment to our faith and family, and were waiting for our first bundle of joy. Surely we would have a baby by Christmas. 

When Mother’s Day #3 rolled around, I was sad. After all, it had been two years since my diagnosis, and I finally had a handle on my disease. So why weren’t we parents yet? It had also been a year since we signed on with an adoption agency, and it made little sense why we weren’t immediately chosen. Each time the social worker called to say, “not this time,” I felt a piece of my heart break. When it came time, three months later, to update our home study, I was restless. The journey seemed never-ending. 

Mother’s Day was hard for many reasons, mostly because I couldn’t hide from it. In addition to all the flowery merchandise at every store, there were the commercials on television, the poems about mothers circulating on social media, and the dreaded Sunday church service where mothers were asked to stand and received applause from the congregation. Plus, everyone we knew was aware that we were adopting, and their constant slew of questions (which were certainly bathed in genuine care) further drove me to the edge. 

Waiting for motherhood on Mother’s Day always felt fragile, anxiety-inducing, and depressing. There was truly no way to ease the heartache. Struggling while standing by for “the call” that will change your world is difficult, to say the least, but it is an unavoidable part of the journey.

The only thing I can tell you, as someone who has been in your shoes, is to know that there will be a Mother’s Day in which you will be handed the embellished, poetic greeting cards, bouquets of flowers, and “mother” jewelry. I know that it cannot come soon enough, and the pain you are feeling right now is nearly tangible. Hold on just a little longer. Be ok with having colliding feelings, because it is normal. Each minute, each hour, each day, each week, and each month (and even each year) that you wait is the strength training you need for the very joyous news that lies ahead. 


About The Author


Rachel Garlinghouse

Rachel Garlinghouse is a mom of four by transracial, domestic, and infant adoption. She’s the author of five books, including Come Rain or Come Shine: A White Parent’s Guide to Adopting and Parenting Black Children. Her experiences have appeared on CNN, CBS, MSNBC, Huff Post Live, and NPR, as well as in hundreds of articles.

Connect with Rachel via her blog, White Sugar Brown Sugar, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Visit Rachel's site at www.whitesugarbrownsugar.com/
You can email Rachel at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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