A Mother's Day Reflection


This coming Sunday is Mother’s Day. For most children, including adopted children, Mother’s Day is a time of celebration, appreciation, and love. But not for me.

I hate Mother’s Day. I hate it distinctly, clearly, and without reservation. Some years I am so full of anger I simmer with it for days. Other years I simply block it out completely, forgetting its existence until someone reminds me in casual conversation. As the years pass, it is more frequently the latter.

As you might have realized, the reason I feel so strongly about Mother’s Day, is that I lost my mother when I was sixteen years old. When you see me, you can’t tell from my appearance that I am a daughter without a mother. In fact, even if you know, the fact that I lost my mother is probably the last thing that comes to your mind, at this or any other time of year.

Invisible loss is something I share with adopted children. When people see families built through international adoption, who are a blend of skin tones, of hair textures, and personalities, the first thoughts through their minds are ones of curiosity and confusion. Most people don’t think about what the adopted child has experienced and lost. Most people can’t imagine the adopted child’s life before they joined their forever families.

For most of us our thoughts are about the present and the future. We don’t often consider the invisible loss of the past.

As a little girl growing up, I never planned to lose my mother. I thought she would be there for me always, through all the events of my life, large and small. I never planned for her years of illness, all those trips to the hospital, and those many frightening moments. I never planned, after she died, to be reminded by every passing holiday and significant occasion of my loss. While I built new traditions for Thanksgiving, for Christmas, and for Easter, I have been unable to dilute the powerful reminder of Mother’s Day. My invisible loss still haunts me, especially at this time of year.

If you are a prospective parent considering international adoption, I urge you to consider the invisible loss your future child once endured. Becoming an orphan is never Plan A for any child. Just like the early loss of my mother is something I could never imagine and something I will never forget.

I hope you will understand that your child’s celebration of Mother’s Day will always be a bit ambivalent and complicated. Adoption begins with loss. The next chapter, however, is the new beginning and the new family that you have the opportunity to create.

Photo Credit: Robert Couse-Baker

MLJ Adoptions is a Non-Profit, Hague-Accredited adoption service provider located in Indianapolis, Indiana, working in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Pacific Isles. We are passionate about serving children in need.