But relegating birth mothers to the day BEFORE Mother's Day, as if we want to "honor" her and get it over with before we get to the REAL holiday for the REAL mom? That strikes me as the "othering" of birth mothers. She's not a MOTHER unmodified, whose motherhood can be celebrated on Mother's (Unmodified) Day, she is, as I've written before, "the Other:"
These representations of foreign birth mothers [as uncaring] allow us to divorce ourselves from the experience of these birth mothers, to minimize their pain, and to justify how much better off our children are with us than with them. So that we can continue to ignore them even as we internalize how painful the loss of these children would be to us, their relinquishment has to be seen as wholly voluntary, desired, accepted. We have to believe they have moved on, that they feel no pain. They are "the Other," the person who is understood only according to their difference from ourselves. It becomes very easy to do when the birth mother is from another country; we have a long history of "the exotic Other" as justifying all sorts of Western colonial intervention. "They" are just not like "us."We'll be celebrating all the mothers important to our family on Mothers' Day -- my mom, Zoe's birth mom, Maya's birth mom, Maya's foster mom, and yes, ME! (No, moving that apostrophe isn't a typo, either. I like Nick Kristof's suggestion that we celebrate all mothers, making Sunday Mothers' Day instead of Mother's Day.)
But we do it in domestic adoption, too, with birth mothers raised in the good ol' U.S. of A. We say, "She is a saint, she showed the ultimate in mother's love;" and then we follow up with, "I could never have done that." As Brian Stuy puts it, "Personally, I could not imagine ever giving up my child to another to raise." I don't think it's meant as a compliment -- it's not that she's so much more noble, so much more saintly, so much more loving than I, that I could never do that. She is different from me, she is less than me, she is "the Other."
On a much more personal and profound level, our Mother's Day has to be Mothers' Day. It's simple reality. My children have many mothers, each important, each REAL. Even without knowing who they are or where they are, my daughters' birth mothers are an integral part of their lives. I'm not interested in creating a falsehood, that I'm the one and only mother in my childrens' lives. On Sunday, on Mothers' Day, we will honor all our mothers, unmodified. No Happy Other's Day for us.