Mother’s Day, Infertility and Other Waiting Mothers


Mother’s Day was once the most painful day of the year for me. There was a time when I struggled with infertility and then that one horrible year when my baby boy was waiting in a Russian orphanage.

Julie and I have talked about this often and she may chime in on this with her own perspective… but even now with 14 years worth of Mother’s Days as an active mom with kids in my home, I still find it to be a bittersweet day.

On Mother’s Day, many of us in the adoption community think of the women who actually mothered their child–birth mothers, foster mothers, orphanage staff workers… or even the child’s birth giver if she didn’t actually “mother” after the child was born.

It’s not that I don’t think of those “mothers” but my heart is really with the women who are longing to be mothers but who are confronted with a roadblock of some sort. It might be infertility–let’s not forget secondary infertility or pregnancies that were lost…. The roadblock might be a government system either here or abroad that is moving so sloooowly in processing all the mounds of paperwork that it’s almost more than her heart can bear. Or, it might be the woman whose child is finally home, but is so scared and angry that they are pushing her away with difficult behaviors.

On Mother’s Day I want to shout out that it’s not about genetics or adoption paperwork.   I want everyone to share my  belief that the word MOTHER is a verb!   To me, it’s about loving unconditionally, helping, teaching, working for, working with, fighting for, learning about, connecting with, putting up with, guiding, disciplining, setting an example, laughing, crying, giving a piece of herself–that is what the verb MOTHER is.

I want to hug the women who want to mother a child of their own (again, through birth or adoption….) but who can’t and I want to tell them that they can MOTHER; that there are lots of children with mothers who aren’t MOTHERING or aren’t able to MOTHER enough.   I want them to know that of course there are ways to interact with children through volunteer or church work or the like, but I also want them to know that they are probably doing things now that are MOTHERING…

Collecting the mountain of paperwork need to foster or adopt is MOTHERING.

Waiting with an ache in your heart while some bureaucracy processes that mountain of paperwork is MOTHERING.

Attending a course, reading a book or otherwise preparing for parenting a child who waited is MOTHERING.

Smiling with warm eyes at the grungy little boy in the grocery store who quite honestly, is not that appealing to look at, is MOTHERING.

Staying near or holding a screaming angry child when you really just want to go in the other room is MOTHERING.

So please, be thoughtful and appreciative of the women who MOTHER even if they are not “mothers”.  And for all you women who are waiting and just trying to survive Mother’s Day for whatever reason, be extra kind to yourself and recognize all the ways that you are already MOTHERING.

Heart of the Matter Seminars


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