Mother’s Day & Women’s Rights

As a member of the adoption community, Mother’s Day can inspire a host of deeply rooted emotions with pure joy and primal pain fiercely at odds. Thankfully, comfort and understanding can come in many forms; loving care from family and friends who may not fully understand but hold you as tight as they possibly can, kindred spirits within the adoption community who instantly get it and tangible validation in all forms from access to original birth certificates (shout out to NJ) to a very meaningful and groundbreaking acknowledgment bestowed on a member of our community.

When I learned Philomena Lee was being honored with Feminist Majority Foundation’s Eleanor Roosevelt Award, I thought “but of course” it makes perfect sense that a women’s rights organization would acknowledge a woman that represented so many women who have fought and continue to fight to lift shame and stigma and for fair and ethical treatment in adoption. It seemed like a no-brainer that first/birth mother’s rights would be tied to women’s rights but an acknowledgment of this nature from such a prominent women’s rights organization has been a long time coming. And how appropriate for this acknowledgment to come right around Mother’s Day. Kudos to Feminist Majority Foundation for making this important statement – first/birth mother rights are indeed women’s rights.

More kudos and heartfelt thanks to so many of the first/birth mothers who have worked tirelessly for years to raise awareness and advocate for their rights and women’s rights overall; Lee Campbell, Claudia D’Arcy, Lorraine Dusky, Judy Foster, Leslie Pate-Mackinnon, Carol Schaefer and countless others. Your bravery and steadfast commitment continues to inspire understanding and make progress but we know there is still much more work to be done.

DAI’s Lynn Franklin Fund (LFF) was established in honor of our Board Member Lynn Franklin and aims to further our mission with a focus on positively impacting the lives of existing and future first/birth parents as well as expectant parents who are considering their options. One of the first projects under the LFF will be a continuation of our work “Safeguarding the Rights and Well-Being of Birthparents in the Adoption Process.” Our “Safeguarding II” study, lead by DAI Research and Project Director, David Brodzinsky and Program Director Susan Smith intends to define and shape best practices in options counseling for expectant parents. We will be sharing more updates in the coming weeks and months.

As Mother’s Day 2014 approaches and I brace for that rush of pure joy and primal pain I am buoyed by the love of my mother and the meaningful and necessary shifts in understanding surrounding first/birth mothers that have been years in the making. So many women have been working day in and day out for years to be seen and heard as they share their experiences and advocate for other first/birth mothers, their children and all members of the adoption community.

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers in our community and as we all reflect on our personal connections to adoption may we be hopeful of even more positive changes to come for children and families.

Mom & Me

Lynn Franklin, Leslie Pate-Mackinnon, Philomena Lee, Jane Libberton, April Dinwoodie