I've always had a love-hate relationship with Mother's Day.
I love the cute notes from my kids and the fact that there is one day set aside all year to acknowledge what mothers do for their families. But Mother's Day is also tough. It was tough when we couldn't get pregnant. It was tough for the three years we waited to adopt. And honestly, even though I have children, it's tough to watch friends dealing with infertility who are patiently waiting for their Mother's Day.
This year, however, Mother's Day has a slightly different meaning for me. This is the first year I share this day with another mother — my son's birth mother.
My son's birth mother is a part of our life. We visit every few months and exchange pictures and emails regularly. She loves her son, and we love her right back.
So naturally, I started getting ready a gift to send her for Mother's Day, and I had to pause a moment and think about how weird it was to be sending a Mother's Day gift from my child to someone else.
I started thinking about how motherhood comes in all shapes and sizes. And in this particular case, motherhood meant making hard choices.
And every time she had a choice, she chose him.
She chose him when she was terrified of a C-section in the hospital, but the doctors told her the baby was in trouble so she consented to the surgery, likely saving his life. She chose him when she decided on adoption, feeling unable herself to provide the parenting and opportunities he would need.
She chooses him every time we visit her, and she gets to see him, hold him and then has to say goodbye all over again. But she does it because she knows it's best for him. She chooses to hurt her own heart a little each time if it will help him feel loved and confident and secure in his adoption.
I think that's why it bothers me so much when people use phrases like "gave up for adoption" or even worse, "gave away her baby." These are statements made by people who haven't seen adoption firsthand. I have. There was no giving up or giving away in our adoption — only choices.
And my son's birth mother chooses him time and time again, no matter the cost to her.
When we first decided on an open adoption, I wondered if it would be too hard for me to have my son's birth mother in our lives. I worried I would feel like a stand-in parent rather than his mother. To be honest, the first few times we met with the birth mother and father after placement, I did question my place. It was a difficult reminder that he was not biologically mine. I wondered, "Who am I in this complicated equation?"
But now that we've all settled into our roles, I'm confident in mine as mother. I'm grateful for her as a birth mother and realize that her love doesn't take away anything from me. In fact, it only increases the love exponentially in our little arrangement, which means more people loving our son and wanting what's best for him.
So as my kids bring me breakfast in bed and crayon-filled loved notes on Sunday, I'll be thinking of this woman who loves my son enough to choose him, even when it breaks her own heart. I'm proud to share this Mother's Day and all the future days with a woman who truly understands what it means to be a mother.