Kris’ Corner – Navigating Mother’s Day with Biological Moms

by Andra Martinez

Mother’s Day. It gets me every year … since our son came to live with us. I wish I could say it gets easier; but, honestly the opposite is true. I think about his birth mom more on Mother’s Day than any other time.

I try to put myself in her shoes and imagine what it’s like for her to be without her son (and in her case, ONLY child) any day, but especially on the one day a year devoted to Moms.

I recently learned that the day before Mother’s Day is Birth Mother’s Day. And so in the spirit of Mother’s Day, and Birth Mother’s Day, I just want to put out there an encouragement to celebrate a child’s birth mom.

Now, I know you may be thinking: “Why would I celebrate this woman who did X, Y and Z to her child?” Because at the end of the day, no matter her parenting skills (or lack of them), she more than likely truly loves her child. She may not have any idea how to show that love, or have any idea how to parent…but have you ever paused to consider why that might be?

Even if you have thought about it, let’s go down that road for just a moment: She may have just struggled to parent because she has no support. I mean like ZERO people in her life who can help her…or show what healthy parenting looks like. Or, maybe she never had someone love her; so, she has no idea how to show love to someone else. What if she’s low cognitive function? Or possibly she doesn’t know how to get out from under an addiction or out of an abusive relationship.

There are many possible reasons why she’s had her child removed from her care. But regardless of the “why”, she could still be celebrated; at the very least she chose life for him and he will always have a connection to her … even if only through biology. So, if a child is with you temporarily or forever, she is still a piece of him, and always will be.

To not celebrate her is to not celebrate that part of him…which could be hurtful to him, both in the now and the later. More on that in another post.

To prevent such a pitfall for your child, I wanted to give you a few ideas you could consider when thinking about celebrating your child’s birth mom.

  • a handprint craft of some sort for a younger child (Pinterest has a TON of these kinds of things so check there if you’re needing inspiration)
  • a picture, painting, or painted pottery done by the child
  • a story or poem or something the child has written for or about her
  • a photograph…this could be one taken recently (you could ask the visit supervisor for help with this) or one taken long ago of her and the child together, put in a frame for safe-keeping
  • a bound photo book of just the child (or the child with siblings, especially if they are placed in other homes)
  • a blank journal and some nice pens
  • some of her favorite snacks…especially great if a child is older and he knows what she would like; or even just some snacks that a child would like to pick out for her regardless of whether or not he knows what she likes
  • fresh cut flowers
  • a handmade card
  • Homemade cookies
  • asking DCS for her to have an extra visit to celebrate the day, or at least a Zoom call

One quick note, because I know some of you may be in a situation in which the child won’t see his mom because visits have been suspended: get a special box to put it in for safe keeping. This can be a way for the child to symbolically “give” it to her until the time when he actually can. So this way he can still make or buy something for her (not perishable, for obvious reasons) and it’s just “in a holding pattern” for a bit. He could also put other special papers, report cards, awards, etc in there to show her at a later date.

Now back to the celebration: this doesn’t have to be anything huge or expensive. Just something to mark that day, and allow her to know that she is being thought of by someone. How tragic to not ever be thought of, right? Or to not know if you’re EVER thought of. But on Mother’s Day, at least, she would know there are thoughts somewhere of her.

That said, a celebration of her doesn’t diminish your place in the life and heart of your foster child.

True confession: I struggled with that idea for a really long time, and honestly, the thought of celebrating her made me jealous. I couldn’t understand how he could possibly love her, but through a lot of reading, studying, and introspection, I know that it’s true: he doesn’t have a finite amount of love to give, so he CAN love her and he can love me. Both of us together. There’s enough room in his heart for both of us. That doesn’t mean he loves us the same, but he can love us both.

And that is why your child’s birth mom can (and SHOULD) be celebrated.

Sincerely,

Kris