Mother's Day is a time for many of us when we are reminded we are not honoured in society as mothers and also reminded of our denied motherhood in the loss of our sons and daughters to adoption. As in previous years, Birth Mother's Day will be held the day before Mother's Day in many cities across Canada. It's a day that has divided natural mothers into two camps, those who support the system as it is and those of us who are working vigorously to redress the wrongs of the past and to prevent further pain and grief caused by the loss in adoption.
Council of Natural Mothers
is important that Mother's Day be a day of recognition for ALL mothers.
Creating a separate day for natural mothers magnifies the continued separation
we have from our sons and daughters lost to adoption. It continues the marginalization
and dehumanization that is perpetuated by closed and mediated adoption records
and the lack of support in our society for us to heal from the trauma, pain
and grief of losing our sons and daughters to adoption.
In the past and today, no matter what the circumstances, the underlying premise in adoption is that the natural mother is "unfit" to raise her own child; "unfit" to be mother to her own child. However, that term should not be used unless there is proven abuse or neglect or some other reason for a child to be apprehended from his or her mother or family. But, we who were supposed to have "voluntarily" surrendered our children for adoption "in their best interests" are labelled the same by association through adoption.
"Voluntary" surrender is only voluntary if there is an informed decision, real and viable options provided, and an informed consent to that surrender. Whether the surrender was by choice or was coercion, the lack of acknowledgement we receive means we are all labelled the same. We are labelled "unfit" to be mothers.
Separating Mother's Day into two unequal days perpetuates the diminished status of mothers who have lost their children to adoption, an act to which we refuse to submit. It requires our complicity if we continue to accept our status as "lesser than" mother. If we, who have the only authentic knowledge of our own experience, do not end the marginalization and dehumanization of who we are, the coercion and loss will not end.
We are the only ones who can define our own experience. Many of us have had to listen to the unauthorized voice of others; those same voices which supported the system that perpetrated and sustained our loss, silence, and invisibility. Those were the same voices that we were forced to or did believe, leaving us no viable alternatives to the surrender of our children for adoption. It is again the unauthorized voice telling us how we should heal, that we should accept their definitions, even on Mother's Day.
Birth Mother's Day is an appointed celebration of our trauma, grief and loss. We endure not only the loss of our children and the loss of the right to raise them, but also the loss of knowledge of, contact with, and accountability for what has become of our children. In a closed adoption we are forced to endure a minimum of 18 years without any knowledge of the well-being of our children to a possible maximum of a lifetime without that knowledge. We are not allowed to know if they are even alive. In present day open adoptions, contact between the natural mother and her child can be arranged but it is not legally binding and the adoption can be closed at the discretion of the adoptive parents. There is no legal recourse for the mother. In no other area of society would we tolerate what the institution of adoption does to mothers and their children. In no other circumstance are parents denied knowledge of their children when they have committed no crime or injustice to their children. It isn't something to celebrate.
Some natural mothers may not agree with these conclusions. They may feel that Birth Mother's Day is a good thing. They may feel no affront when the legal adjective "birth" is added to their title. Our intention is not to further divide women; it is simply to encourage all mothers to take a strong stand against all who would allocate us to a lesser place of honour. In the end, all women must feel empowered to celebrate their motherhood on their own terms.
"We sitting in our rows, eyes down, we make her salivate morally. We are hers to define; we must suffer her adjectives." Margaret Atwood. "The Handmaid's Tale"
playing small does not serve the World. There is nothing enlightening
about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. And
as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission
to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically
14 May 2002
© The Canadian Council of Natural Mothers, May 2002. This document is the property of the Canadian Council of Natural Mothers, www.ccnm-mothers.ca. You may copy and distribute this page provided that you copy it in its entirety.