There’s a forgotten mother on Mother’s Day. This statement may be hard to believe given the crass commercialization of a holiday meant to honor motherhood. More phone calls are placed on Mother’s Day than on any other day of the year. Who could or would forget her mother?
Actually, this mother is not forgotten per se; she is simply not recognized or publicly hailed. And that omission is truly sad because this mother is one of the bravest women out there. In fact, this type of mother is my heroine both personally and professionally.
Who is this unheralded mother? She’s a “tummy mommy.” In case you are unfamiliar with this term, it is a description of a birth mother, a brave woman who has carried a child for months, endured the pain of delivering that child and then has her heart broken because she will not be raising that child. The “tummy mommy” gives a child life biologically and then gives her child a good life by placing him for adoption.
Ignorant people claim that a “tummy mommy” is simply “giving away” her child. Nothing could be further from the truth. A woman who places her child for adoption is exhibiting the purest form of motherhood, i..e., putting her child before herself. She makes a choice that is excruciatingly painful so that her child can have what he needs (a stable home, two parents, etc.) and maybe even something that he wants, like a college education–things she is not in a position to provide. The “tummy mommy” places her child for adoption not because she does not love him but because she loves him so much.
That a negative stereotype of birth mothers persists is something I cannot grasp. When a woman makes a loving choice to provide for her child through adoption, she should be applauded, assisted and admired. Instead, many look down their noses at her because she has gotten herself in this position because of some poor choices or poor planning.
Guess what? A “tummy mommy” is a human being who, yes, just like ALL the rest of us has made mistakes. But since no “do over” button is available, she makes the best of a difficult situation so that everyone comes out ahead. She places her child for adoption to give her child the life he deserves and gets peace of mind that he will be cared for. The child is provided for and gets a wonderful life. The adoptive parents experience a miracle and achieve their parenting dreams. This result is a win-win-win situation.
That is not to say that everyone lives happily ever after. An adoption may be finalized and parental ties legally severed, but a “tummy mommy” will always be a mommy even if she is not raising a child. A sense of loss and grief is normal for any caring person. And a “tummy mommy” does care. If she didn’t, she could easily have taken care of her “problem” by having an abortion. But no, she signed up for months of physical discomfort, a hospital stay and emotional trauma. This is one brave woman regardless of how she found herself in “the family way.”
“Tummy mommies” are much more common than you might think. According to Adoptive Families magazine, approximately 18,000 American families adopt newborns in the U.S. each year. And those bundles of joy don’t come from the stork; they come from living, breathing and likely crying “tummy mommies.”
What makes me an expert on “tummy mommies?” No, I am not one, but I deal with them daily as an adoption attorney. In my almost thirty years of practice, I have dealt with hundreds of “tummy mommies.” And, personally, I am the aunt of a precious niece and nephew who have brought joy to my family because of the unselfish decision of two birth mothers in vastly different situations. These women are of different races, live in different countries and speak different languages. But both of them are women with huge hearts. Each put her love in action by formulating a plan to make sure that her child would be well cared for when she could not do so.
“Tummy mommies” make life-altering decisions because their children are their first priority. Sadly, some mothers choose to parent and then ruin their children’s life through abuse or neglect. Just because a woman “keeps” her child and parents does not, ipso facto, mean that she is deserving of kudos. Conversely, just because a woman elects to place her child for adoption does not mean she is automatically deserving of scorn.
Perhaps it is just as well that “tummy mommies” are overlooked on Mother’s Day. Yes, they deserve recognition, but one mere day when material things are given to show appreciation to a mother comes nowhere close to heralding a woman who has given her very heart to make sure her child is provided for when she cannot. There are not enough cards, roses and chocolate to express adequate appreciation for the brave and unselfish choice a “tummy mommy” has made. “Tummy mommies” everywhere, I salute you–not just on Mother’s Day, but on every day.
Just WONDER-ing: How would an adoptee’s life have been different if his “tummy mommy” had made the choice to parent? Have you been touched by adoption? How do you feel about the “tummy mommy” in that situation?