Birth Mother's Day
The day before Mother's Day, Wirth plans to attend, for the eleventh straight year, the local commemoration of Birth Mother's Day, hosted by Catholic Social Services of Washtenaw County. "I heard about it through a support group that I was going to," she says. "It just appealed to me that they would do that, that they would honor birth mothers. I came from a generation that didn't honor birth mothers."
The first Birth Mother's Day was observed in Seattle in 1990. Southfield trauma therapist and birth mother Brenda Romanchik introduced the concept to Michigan a few years later, and CSS has hosted the event since 1998. Last year, about seventy-five people showed up, including birth mothers and their families, adoptees and their families, and three birth fathers. The program included poems, readings, music, and testimonials, as well as refreshments, socializing, and hardly any dry eyes.
Wirth knows where the son she gave up lives and has supplied him with medical information, but he's chosen not to meet her. Younger birth mothers are more likely to have arranged "open adoptions," where they chose the adoptive parents and negotiated a mutually comfortable level of contact with them and their child. But even open adoption "has both joy and grief," says Julie Payne, the CSS pregnancy counselor who organizes Birth Mother's Day locally. "They don't have all the questions and the wondering [about their children's lives], but they do have an experience that is not recognized by society."