As Mother’s Day approaches, there is a segment of our population who is often overlooked during this springtime holiday — birth mothers. A birth mother (aka first mother, natural mother, or biological mother) is a woman who has placed or lost a child to adoption. For various reasons, it would seem that many are uncomfortable or do not understand why a woman would choose, although is sometimes coerced, adoption for their child. This lack of understanding often leads to birth mothers being judged, shamed, and ostracized by society.
Even in open adoptions, birth mothers often experience lifelong grief and ambiguous loss. For those from the Baby Scoop Era, closed adoptions, and those who were deceived into believing their open adoption agreement would be respected, that grief is compounded. Many birth mothers live a lifetime without support that is unique to their needs.
For the past decade, On Your Feet Foundation, California (OYFF) has worked to support and destigmatize birth mothers and give them tools to manage complicated grief. OYFF empowers birth mothers through services such as therapeutic retreats, educational and vocational grants, and wellness grants. OYFF is one of the only organizations in the country providing post-placement services for birth mothers.
As Mother’s Day has become more inclusive for grandmothers, step-mothers, bereaved mothers, and those struggling with infertility, remember that there are birth mothers in our communities who are also deserving of compassion and kindness. OYFF will do their part to ensure their clients are acknowledged and honored.
Angie Swanson-Kyriaco is a birth mother and board member of On Your Feet Foundation, California.