Please Don’t Thank My Birthmother

January 16th marked 28 years for me as a true, Midwestern Minnesota girl. It’s a day that will always hold a special place in my family’s heart – a day I’ll never know except through the beautiful snapshots and stories shared. It’s my “gotchya day.”

When a family grows through the adoption process, this “gotchya day” is recognized as the arrival of the child and sometimes when the adoption process is complete. My family and I recognize it as the day I was placed into their arms fresh off a Delta flight from Atlanta to Minneapolis at five weeks old. It took well into my adult life to even hear the term “gotchya day,” and I’m not exactly sure how crazy I am on the term — this is seen true with many adoptees. Personally, I feel as if it’s like you’ve been snatched up out of someone’s arms? This is completely my opinion, but has been known to cause some ruckus within the adoption community. Aside from this term, families also derive this special day as an anniversary (in which we do), family day, or adoption day.

Please Don't Thank My Birthmother | Twin Cities Moms Blog

As a child, our family recognized January 16th as an anniversary filled with hugs, kisses and sometimes a small treat in the form of a bundt cake (mom, why don’t you make those anymore?), Cabbage Patch Doll or flowers. It wasn’t to the point of a birthday celebration, but just a day special to us that served it’s very own significant purpose of how we became a family. Little did I know, as the kid in me is celebrating a day focused on me, my mom now describes this day as a day where she would silently say a little prayer and thank the woman who gave birth to me.

Last February, we were reunited and continue to hold a very close and special relationship with Cynthia, my birthmother. As days, weeks and months went by, we were able to learn more and more about my birth story, her decision and the feelings edured in regard to her adoption placement decision. It’s very apparent in no shape or form does she hold regret but she did mention one thing to me that has really stuck, especially this year on January 16th, my 28th adoption anniversary.

And this is, please don’t thank my birthmother.

The first day we met Cynthia in person, there were many hugs, tears and quiet conversations occurring during those intimate moments between her and my family and friends. Later I learned many of my family and friends were thanking Cynthia, thanking her for choosing life, thanking her for choosing my family and thanking her for the ultimate sacrifice of adoption in order for January 16th to resonate with my family in such a beautiful way. My aunt told me, “She doesn’t like to be thanked,” and at first I just brushed it off.. I didn’t really have time to think of the fact that you aren’t thanking someone for holding the door open or helping you out with a test. You’re thanking them for a loss they went through. She doesn’t want to be thanked. Today, we know and 110% understand this and are grateful for the beauty of our relationship, being able to gain that trust and honest truth.

As positive of an adoption experience my childhood and family holds, I believe there is much sadness that will always hang above someone’s head and in their heart during this process, thus being my birthmother. In no way does she feel like she deserves an award. In no way does she feel like she did anyone a favor. In no way does she want to be thanked.

With the growth of a family through adoption, there will be a great loss, and with absolutely any succcsessful adoption story or process, there will ultimately be a sadness and a grieving period involved for years to come. Does Cynthia deserve a thank you? Sure, we may think so but now the thankfulness is shown in a much deeper way transpired through hugs, phone calls, well wishes, visits and I love you’s. What she did was provide, and provided out of the purest of love in hopes that her daughter would soon feel that love from a family to call hers forever. And that I did. This January 16th, rather than celebrating and taking in this day all about me with a bundt cake and flowers, I woke up and said a little prayer… Just as my mother has done all along.

Please Don't Thank My Birthmother | Twin Cities Moms Blog

A lover, not a cooker. Six years ago, Leah's college bartender asked for her phone number and she figured it would be appropriate to marry him 5 years later, especially since he's an excellent cook. After years spent in their college town, Josh's career brought them to Lakeville in June 2014 with their five year old son, Vance. Leah survives on the daily with her two die-hard Minnesota sports fans and most weekends, you'll find her cheering on her son in his latest sport endeavor. It's safe to say, the last thing she ever saw herself as in her mid-twenties was a soccer mom. But most will agree, it fits her oh so well. Leah works from home as a Marketing Director for 4 locally owned restaurants in Mankato. With education in social media and a newly found passion of sharing the raw, real life details, a blog based on transracial adoption and parenting today was formed towards the efforts of locating her biological mother {and others}. You can learn more about Leah's colorful family, mommy-things and more on her blog {https://leahpihlaja.wordpress.com} or like You're Holding Your Pencil Wrong on Facebook.

5 COMMENTS

  1. I appreciate your insight. As another mother of adoption loss I don’t want to be thanked either. Losing my daughter 35 yrs ago was not something I would want to be thanked for. I didn’t give anyone a gift. I did what I had to at the time. For most of us, then and now, surrendering to adoption was an act of desperation, not generosity. I’m so glad you are reunited with your mother as I am with my daughter. Many blessings for you and your family.

    • Thanks for sharing! It’ll be a whole year since we’ve reunited and Cynthia is part of our family as if she always has been.. Such a wonderful bond given. Glad you’ve been able to have your story come in full circle.. Blessings to you, as well!

  2. Absolutely. Desperation, not generosity. In my last year or two of finally connecting with other birth moms; I still can’t understand the few who genuinely “chose” adoption. Most of the stories are similar to mine; desperation. Something I find being thanked for quite patronizing.

  3. Thank you for this article and everyone’s honest comments. My mother is a birthmother and this is the first time I have heard an articulate, respectful, honest example of the birthmother.

  4. I’m so glad I came across this. I am an adoptive mom myself and I reached out to my daughters birth mom right after the adoption was final and though I have never said “Thank you ” I have told her many times that I would be forever grateful to her for giving my daughter life. I never seen it this way until now. We communicate through email and I share pictures with her often but now I will be a little more careful with my words. I also teach foster care classes and I plan to share this with my next class. I’m so happy you found your birth mom! Sounds like you have amazing parents all the way around. God Bless

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