Happy Mother’s Day, China Mom

Sun, May 11, 2008


Here’s an essay I wanted to share that I wrote a couple of years ago. Plenty of my bloggy friends are getting ready to give birth. But some of us became mothers in a different way, though adoption. There’s another mother I think about a lot, but especially today.


I’m not sure if they celebrate Mother’s Day in China. But there is a mother somewhere in Hunan Province I will be honoring as we approach the second Sunday in May. Actually, the woman my family calls “China Mommy,” is someone I think about virtually every day, not just on the designated date each year that marketers want us to send flowers and cards with standardized sentiments. It’s impossible not to wonder about her each time I dress my daughter, or brush her silky, straight black hair, or listen to her enthusiastic belly laugh. I wonder if she looks like her birth-mother and if I’m seeing China Mommy’s face when I gaze at my daughter’s.

Over the last few years, my seven-year-old has started understanding that there is another mother in her life. My little girl is beginning to realize that she wasn’t, as she describes it, “borned from” me and that this China Mommy we’ve talked about since we became a family is a real person and was her mother before I claimed that title.

I never thought Mother’s Day would be a big deal to me once some little person started calling me “Mommy.” While I loved making Mother’s Day gifts for my own mom when I was a child, proudly presenting her each year with the latest craft that I had lovingly painted or molded at school, the concept of having one day out of 365 to thank the woman who raised me seemed a bit contrived. But I now know that having a special day to talk about mothers will allow my husband and me to help our daughter understand how we became a family, even though that will make it something of a bittersweet occasion for her.

As an adoptive mother, I have come to learn how important it is for many adoptees to know that at some point in their lives they can, if they choose, have a reunion with those who share their genetic makeup. But because of the reality of Chinese adoption (babies, usually girls, are left in well-known finding places with no identifying information, to be taken to the closest orphanage with the hope that a family will adopt her), my little girl will probably never have that chance. So with each passing Mother’s Day, she will have to face how to deal with that and try to understand why she’ll never be able to meet the woman who was her first mother. And to do that, we must remember her and talk about her, especially on Mother’s Day.

Just as I often think of her, I am sure China Mommy wonders about us. I wish I could tell her, mother to mother, that the little girl she gave birth to has a smile as broad and beautiful as a field of daisies, that she is vibrant and energetic, and that she is a child with a joyful heart. Better yet, I wish she could see that for herself and that I could tell her, face to face, that her sacrifice gave me the gift of motherhood.

I know in my heart that my daughter is the child I was meant to have, even though she was not “borned from” me. That’s why, as I send my own mother a card this Mother’s Day, I write this to honor my daughter’s birth-mother, and every other woman who has made the difficult decision not to parent a child she has brought into this world. Without China Mommy and others like her, thousands of women like me would not be celebrating our own motherhood.

Photo by PunditMom
Be Sociable, Share!

Related Posts:

, ,

12 Responses to “Happy Mother’s Day, China Mom”

  1. Donna Says:

    This is a beautiful essay, Joanne. One of my closest friends is the adoptive mom of two girls from China, and they grapple with the same thoughts (wondering about the girls’ birth mothers, honoring their Chinese heritage — although these two little girls are essentially Irish American, preferring potatoes to rice).

    Happy Mother’s Day to you, too!

  2. Sunshine Says:

    Happy Mother’s Day to you, and I hope somehow China Mom knows that you are in every fiber of your being the mother she couldn’t be to your daughter.

  3. Heather.PNR Says:

    What a lovely tribute. Happy Mother’s Day to you and to her.

  4. Lady M Says:

    Happy Mother’s Day! That was a beautiful post with beautiful thoughts.

  5. Queen of the Mayhem Says:

    What a lovely post!

    It doesn’t matter how you became one….it only matters that you ARE a mother!

    Oh…and the pregnancy thing is WAY overrated! (hee-hee)

    Seriously…..hope you are having a wonderful Mother’s Day!

  6. Jeni Says:

    My youngest cousin probably feels the same way you do but in her case, it would be to four mothers in Korea. She and her husband adopted four children, two boys, two girls, all from Korea. The oldest son is now through college (about four years now), the older daughter is about to get married the end of July and I think the youngest will graduate from high school this spring. Four great young people now whose birth mothers had the courage to give my cousin the opportunity to be the mother to these great kids.

  7. Caroline Says:

    This is beautifully written and so wonderfully touching. Happy mother’s day to you and to China Mommy for bringing such an amazing gift into your world!

  8. Grim Reality Girl Says:

    Beautiful. Happy Mother’s Day! How awesome it is that you appreciate China Mom — I often think of moms like her and am glad they make the choices they do in giving a baby to a mom who is ready to love. This is one of the things that gives me hope for the world!

  9. Jennifer Says:

    i’m in tears…

  10. Asianmommy Says:

    That’s a beautifully-written post. How wonderful for your daughter to know how much you value her birth mother.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    “I write this to honor my daughter’s birth-mother”
    There you go again using that label that you say you never use. You are an “as if” mom until you give respect to earn respect.

  12. PunditMom Says:

    Anonymous, I’m sorry you’re so bitter and have decided to lash out on this post and others. But I will delete further “troll” comments. Please read my delete policy above.

Leave a Reply