For the past two years, a group of adoptive moms and one birthmother have met on Birth mother’s Day – the day before Mother’s Day – to honor and recognize birth mothers.
Toni McIntyre of Tega Cay said she felt led to start the annual gathering because of negative connotations that are often associated with birth mothers.
“We feel that there is a very negative stigma that is associated with adoption,” McIntyre said. “Society still perceives birthmoms as women who ‘give away’ their babies.”
“I would so love to turn that thought process around and help birthmoms to be honored that they chose life and they chose families for their babies.”
Birthmother’s Day was created in 1990 by a group of birthmothers in Seattle to recognize and acknowledge the experience and to support one another. An online grass-roots movement at tobirthmomswithlove.com with the slogan “Adoption is a Brave Choice,” asks the public to sign a Birth Mother’s Day card which will appear on billboards around the country “encouraging birth mothers on a potentially bittersweet day.”
Leah Outten was 16 when she relinquished her birthdaughter, Kaylee. She desperately wanted to parent Kaylee herself, she said, but ultimately decided that adoption was the best choice. Outten is now married with four children and writes about her experiences on her blog, The Grace Bond.
Outten remains close with the family that adopted 10-year-old Kaylee. Kaylee comes over for sleepovers with Outten’s children and Outten often babysat while Kaylee’s parents worked.
“The love I have received in return is far more than what I could have imagined as the sole mother to my child,” Outten wrote on her blog. “While she is doubly loved by two families, so am I. And that love makes it all worth it to me.”
Not all adoptions are open or have such happy outcomes for the birthmother. Outten said that she has felt judged by fellow birthmothers whose situation did not turn out how they wanted. Outten draws on her experiences to reach out to other birth moms through blogging, speaking and support networks such as Birthmom Buds. Outten will be speaking at an upcoming Birthmom Buds conference on the topic “Writing – Tell Your Story.”
McIntyre hopes that the “overall perception” of birth moms will begin to change, and that people will see that “birth moms are beautiful and they love their kids.”
“Adoption is just such a beautiful story,” McIntyre said. “I just want to give honor to those touched by adoption.”
Want to go?
Adoptive moms and birthmoms are welcome to attend at informal gathering at Toast Café on S.C. 160 West in Tega Cay at 11 a.m May 9.