Mother’s Day. A holiday where we celebrate our mothers and show appreciation for all they have done for us over the years. Recognizing mothers and their labor intensive work is extremely important. They work hard to care for their children, keep them healthy, teach them right from wrong, and raise them to be strong, kind, intelligent beings. Every spring, corporate America reminds us quite loudly to shower our mothers in gifts – chocolates, bouquets of flowers, spa days, maybe even a new phone! But what TV commercials, radio ads, electronics, and chocolates don’t touch upon is how to manage these holidays for those who have had a challenging relationship, loss, or maybe no relationship at all with their mothers.
At BPAR we often work closely with individuals and families who have experienced significant pain in their relationships with their mothers. Although we do hear and see many positive experiences as well, we wanted to take the time to help people become more aware and attuned to what they may be feeling on this day.
For the adoptee, Mother’s Day can bring a lot to the surface. For those who have completed a search for their birth mother this day can be a reminder of that experience. We have worked with adoptees that have met their birth mothers and been able to build a relationship with them, and some whose birth mothers have been a part of their lives since birth. Others have experienced pain and loss by discovering that their birth mother is deceased, is not able to have a relationship, makes false promises, and some who are never able to find their birth mother. Other adoptees with whom we work do not want to engage in a search. Their adoptive family is their family, so there is no need to look elsewhere.
For the adoptive parent this day can be both filled with joy as well as loss. It is a celebration of the incredible opportunity to become a mother – the opportunity to give love to, care for, and raise a child. This can be a time of reflection – memories of the adoption process resurface – the steps it took to bring your child home. In some cases, memories of infertility and loss may arise as well.
For birth mothers, we recognize the joy and pain this day may bring as well. We work closely with birth mothers to provide them with an opportunity to grieve, heal, and if possible, reconnect with their children.
Regardless of your experience, the important thing is to notice what comes up for you, be aware of what feelings might be coming up for your child, and then make a plan to figure out what you need. Do you need some space? Want to write a letter to their birth mother? Have a planned phone call or visit? For those who have lost their birth mother is there some symbolic activity that can be done? Planting flowers, visiting a grave, or lighting a candle in memory of her.
As Mother’s Day approaches next week, continue to notice your feelings as they come up. Reach out to friends, family, or professional supports to help you through this difficult time. Allow yourself to feel sad, angry, happy, or whatever you need to without judgment. When we begin to recognize and accept our feelings then we can begin to heal.
By Kelly Chase
Boston Post Adoption Resources