Should You Celebrate Mother’s Day or Birthmother’s Day?

Dawn Davenport


Birthmother's Day vs. Mother's Day

In 1990 a group of Seattle birth moms founded the first Birthmother’s Day as a way to honor the unique contributions of first mothers who placed children for adoption. They chose the Saturday before Mother’s Day.

The holiday has caught on within the adoption world, but is not without controversy. Some first mom’s love it; some hate it; and some don’t care on way or the other.

Birthmothers Against Birthmother’s Day

My thoughts change from year to year. At first, I was happy to celebrate Birth Mother’s Day. It made me feel special. But, now I understand that I am still a mom – just in a different way. I was a mother to my son for 9 months and 3 days. The law doesn’t see me as such (which I believe now is a disservice to the adoption triad). Would we celebrate the motherhood differently if a mom, raising her child, had her child pass away when they were 6 months old. No – you would still honor her.

My thoughts now – I would love for adoptive moms to celebrate both days for the birth mother (the “birth” gives her her added recognition on Saturday and the “mother” gives her due recognition on Sunday). But, if the adoptive mom only wants to celebrate one day – choose Mother’s Day.


When I first heard about Birth Mother’s Day, I thought YES! Especially because we are the mothers first. As time passed, it has become a way to separate us from other mothers and our children, as if we are not “allowed” to be celebrated on Mother’s Day because we aren’t “real” mothers. I’m just saying how it FEELS – and we all know feelings aren’t facts, right?

I just want to be celebrated as a mother and not a pre-fix. I’d like to be acknowledged as a mother, on Mother’s Day, simply for being a mother.

It’s a stupid second-rate holiday.

Birthmothers in Favor of Birthmother’s Day

I love the idea of birth mother’s day. It is the one day that the whole of what I did is recognized. What I mean is that my daughter’s family recognizes me for what I did and the fact that I’m her mother and the fact that it was really hard and done in love. Now that my daughter is 17, she really gets it too. I like that it is right before Mother’s Day because I am her mom first and her birth mom second.


I think birthmom’s day is mostly practical, but that is why I like it. I know that’s not a popular feeling online now, but that’s how I feel. On Mother’s Day I am busy celebrating with my children (the ones I am parenting) and my own mother. My son (the one I placed) is busy celebrating with his adoptive mother, and his family has 2 birth mom’s to try to fit in (they adopted twice), and they both have mother’s who are alive.

Before Birthmother’s Day, it really felt like all any of us had time for was a rushed and hurried phone call. Then my son’s mom heard about Birthmother’s Day and asked me what I thought. Now we have time to really celebrate. We live 2 hours apart so one year we got together for a picnic. Another year, I took him to a movie by himself. Most years we just talk on the phone and he sends me a card and his parents usually send me flowers. This year we are doing a picnic again. All in all it makes me feel special and not a day I have to share.

Every birthmom is different though. Her [son’s adoptive mom] daughter’s birth mother didn’t want to celebrate on birth mom day. She just wanted a call on Mother’s Day. To each their own.

I will say that I have stopped posting my thought on the internet forums because some birthmothers have VERY strong opinions against it and don’t take lightly to someone not being offended by it. It feels sometimes like if you like it you aren’t birthmother enough or have somehow been brainwashed. I haven’t been brainwashed, I just like the practicalness of it and that I am celebrated by myself and not have to share.

What Should Adoptive Parents Do?

What should you do? You want to honor your child’s birth mother, but don’t want to offend her. The answer is simple—ask her? Explain that you want to honor her as the mom that she is and ask if she would prefer to be recognized on Birthmother’s Day or Mother’s Day.

If you do not have an open adoption relationship that includes direct communication with the your child’s first mom, I would recognize her on Mother’s Day. You run less risk of offending her, and many birth mother’s have never heard of Birthmother’s Day.

For your child’s birth mother, do you celebrate Mother’s Day, Birthmother’s Day, or neither? Why?

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05/05/2016 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Adoption, Adoption Blog, Blog | 3 Comments

3 Responses to Should You Celebrate Mother’s Day or Birthmother’s Day?

  1. Avatar Jane says:

    One more way to separate the first mother from her child..more damage done to the psyche of the mother..adoption sucks!

    • Tracy Whitney Tracy Whitney says:

      Adoption is borne out of loss, so yes, that part of it really does stink. But thankfully it’s not all loss – especially when it’s in the best interest of the securing permanency for the child.

  2. Avatar Sandra Chapman says:

    Although my baby got adopted and my other two are fostered, I will always celebrate Mother’s day every year. I will not class myself as a birth mother because it sounds artificially and fake!

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