Adoption STAR Associate Director Michael Hill reflects on the words he shared at this past weekend’s Birth Mother’s Day celebration.
When Adoption STAR’s Birth Parent Department Supervisor Sue Shaw asked if I would say a few words at this year’s Birth Mother’s Day event, I was flattered. I had been asked to speak at the same event a few years earlier and I found the experience to be quite humbling and powerful.
I turned to the Internet for inspiration (as I so often do), and I found a 2012 piece written by birth mother Melissa Nilsen. It’s entitled, “A Birth Mother on Mother’s Day,” and you can read it in its entirety here: A Birthmother On Mother’s Day
The part of the piece that was especially poignant for me is as follows:
“Over the next seven Mother’s Days, I grew more confident about my decision. I studied abroad and graduated from college and got married. I kept in close touch with my birth daughter and her family.
As she grew from a baby into a young girl, she grew to understand the role I had played in helping create her family. And our relationship blossomed.
But no matter how good I felt about my decision no matter how great my life was, each year on Mother’s Day I felt melancholy. No one knew the proper etiquette to acknowledge a birthmother on Mother’s Day.
Not even me. Looking back, I guess what I craved in those seven years was just that: acknowledgement.
In the same way a mom wants to be acknowledged for the sacrifices she makes and for the love and dedication she displays each day as she nurtures her children, I wanted to be acknowledged for the amazing nature of my birth daughter, for the strong and healthy roots I had planted before her care and upbringing were entrusted to her parents.”
The idea of a “lack of acknowledgment” is what my words focused on during this year’s Birth Mother’s Day celebration. The fact that Melissa, like so many other birth mothers, wanted ANY level of acknowledgment for being a mother that had placed a child for adoption rings so true and is so understandable to me. Acknowledgment. Respect. Honor. Appreciation. These are the things that are at the heart of Adoption STAR’s Birth Mother’s Day celebrations, and being able to openly express and share these sentiments with birth families is the very reason why our agency has held these kinds of celebrations year after year since the agency’s inception. To me, this seems like the very least we can do for mothers that have placed children for adoption. They certainly deserve our acknowledgment…and so much more.
WKBW-TV, our Buffalo-based ABC affiliate, offered some wonderful coverage of our Birth Mother’s Day celebration this year. You can view it here: ‘Birth Mother’s Day’ celebrated in WNY