So, today is my (gulp) 43rd birthday. I used to be one of those people who LOVED my birthday, and was so excited to celebrate it, preferably for a whole week. Now that I’m in my 40s, I feel a little less like that (I’d really rather like to stop aging altogether), but it has also been adoption that has changed my perspective on birthdays as well.

My mom typically texts me or calls me the morning of my birthday, celebrating a special and momentous day for her as well. But the same can’t be said for a birth mother who placed her child with another. My daughter Cora’s birthday is only a week after mine, and now I feel a pang of sadness on Cora’s birthday each year. Sadness that Cora’s birth mom likely feels sadness, and maybe even some regret, about the decision she made to place Cora with us. I first started realizing this fact more clearly when I talked with an adult adoptee about her feelings about her own adoption. She is the same age as me, and her adoption was pretty much closed (as was normal at the time), but one year on her birthday she called the adoption agency who had placed her to try and find out a little more about her adoption, mainly to get some medical information. What she learned was that her birth mother had called the agency that same day, and had called the agency every single year on her birthday since placing her, hopeful that one day her child would reach out and try and locate her. That story, that reality, made me cry that day, and I think of it every year, particularly on Cora’s birthday. I am thankful my own mother doesn’t have to have that sadness, but I’m sorry that my daughter might someday find her birthday bittersweet.

So if you are an adoptive parent, or a prospective adoptive parent, we hope you realize this hard part of adoption and keep your child or future child’s birth family in your thoughts and prayers on your child’s birthday, as it is bound to be a difficult day for them, and a day you will one day have to navigate with your own child.

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