Every year since 1990, the Saturday before Mother’s Day marks a special occasion, Birth Mother’s Day. The day was created in Seattle by a birth mother in an effort to educate about adoption and as a way for birth mothers to honor and remember their stories.
With an estimated 6 million people who were adopted in the United States, Birth Mother’s Day is an opportunity for many to learn about adoption and celebrate the courageous choices birth mothers have made. It is an opportunity to give a voice to women like Johanna while educating and informing women facing an unplanned pregnancy.
Sixteen years ago, while Johanna was a college sophomore, she was faced with an unplanned pregnancy. In an instant her world changed. She was nineteen years old and suddenly had to decide the course of not one, but two lives.
It was her mother who suggested adoption and after speaking with an attorney she was connected with Friends in Adoption, a local licensed non-traditional adoption agency. Johanna, like many others facing an unplanned pregnancy, assumed that if she decided to make an adoption plan she would have little or no choices in the process.
“My thought was that I would “give away” my child and he would be placed into a loving family but what I was not aware of was that adoption had changed. The case workers at Friends in Adoption explained to me that I could choose the family, receive pictures and letters, and even visit my son,” Johanna explained. “My greatest fear was that I would not know who my son would become and he would not have the option of knowing his birth mother.”
What They Hoped For
After that initial visit with Friends in Adoption, Johanna and the birth father discussed what they hoped for their son and after reviewing the profiles of pre-adoptive families, they made their choice. Speaking first on the phone and then meeting in person, Johanna continued contact with the selected adoptive family.
Johanna went into labor in the middle of the night and as her labor progressed there were some complications during the delivery and the baby had to stay in the special-care nursery. Johanna notified the adoptive couple and invited them to the hospital to meet their son. Johanna and the couple spent the next four days getting to know each other while taking turns caring for the baby.
“They were so amazing about giving me and my family time alone with the baby. When the time came for me to be discharged I walked out of the hospital with the baby and took him to the hotel where his new family was staying,” Johanna remembers. “We talked, cried together, took pictures and exchanged letters. When it was time for them to start the drive home, I handed him to his mother and kissed him goodbye.”
Johanna said she felt blessed to have an incredible amount of support from both friends and family and she was able return to college a few weeks later. She and the adoptive couple agreed to exchange letters and pictures through the agency every few weeks. Johanna had her first visit shortly after his first birthday. They visit once a year and Johanna has hundreds of pictures, hours of video, and has been witness to first words, first steps, and his first day of school; gifts she will forever cherish. Johanna has since married and has two other children.
A Remarkable Journey
“The last 15 years have been a remarkable journey. There are times when life gets busy and we don’t talk to each other for a while but we always know we’re there for each other. My children have an amazing relationship not only with him but also with his sister,” Johanna said. “We exchange gifts at Christmas and birthdays, and I consider us one big family. My children realize that a family is created from people who love you, and that’s a great lesson to pass on to them.”
Johanna’s story is just one of many to be remembered this Birth Mother’s Day. To learn more about adoption, visit FriendsinAdoption.org or call 1-800-982-3678.