Mother’s Day is just around the corner—the day we remember our moms, shower them with flowers, cards, gifts and hugs—and show them some well-deserved love.
But on this day each year, there are many moms who are forgotten. These are the birth moms who have placed their children for adoption, but who are mothers nonetheless.
The decision to place a child for adoption is difficult and takes courage, but it’s one 18,000 mothers make each year. And it’s a choice made out of love.
Kelsey Vander Vliet is one of these mothers. As a birth mom herself, Kelsey understands just how much support these moms need. And she’s made it her personal mission to do more for them, one step at a time.
This includes organizing one of the only nationwide projects honoring birth moms on Mother’s Day.
Support for birth moms can be hard to find
Kelsey became a birth mother three years ago, after she found herself in an unplanned pregnancy. She was no longer involved in a relationship with the father, and after finding the perfect adoptive family for her son, she knew this was the best option for him.
Soon after, Kelsey was offered a job at an adoption agency in Indiana, where she became even more immersed into the world of adoption. There, she led a birth mother support group in the area, and helped educate medical and social work professionals on how to counsel and treat women in unexpected pregnancies who were considering adoption.
“With birth moms, finding someone who’s gone through the same situation is important,” Kelsey told Everyday Mamas. She found comfort in finding a community of women who could relate to what she had experienced. “I listened to other women tell their stories and instantly, I felt less alone,” she said.
Even though support for birth moms is incredibly needed, it is hard to find, Kelsey explained.
So in 2017, she established a website, From Anotha Motha, to provide a platform to connect and support birth moms. And just months later, she had thousands of visitors to her site, and regular readers and subscribers.
She loved that this website was creating a community for birth moms and she continually looked for opportunities to do more for them.
Sparking an idea
About a year after her son’s birth, Kelsey’s first Mother’s Day came. And it was hard day for her. “I remember my very first Mother’s Day was very lonely,” Kelsey shared with Everyday Mamas. “It was a week before my son’s birthday. I wasn’t really sure what to do on this day, but it was very confusing to me. I decided to plant flowers on my front porch.” At that moment, she realized that it was likely other birth moms felt this way on Mother’s Day too.
After thinking a lot about what she could do, Kelsey came up with the idea of sending out Mother’s Day cards. She wanted to celebrate birth moms and remind them that they are loved on this special day. Sending them a card would do just that.
So in 2018, Kelsey launched her first Mother’s Day card project for birth moms. She asked people from all over the country if they’d like to contribute by writing a card for a birth mom, and had them send it to her business address.
Using social media—primarily Instagram and a few private birth mom Facebook groups—she was able to quickly get the word out about this project, and the idea spread.
In just her first year, 400 birth mothers signed up to receive cards through her website, and they continued to sign up for cards even after Mother’s Day. Kelsey said that the final card she sent out last year was mailed in June.
This year, she hopes to send even more.
This project celebrates the love and sacrifice of birth moms, but it’s also creating awareness about adoption. “People are having card parties at their house. People are getting together, they’re teaching their friends about adoption—they’re teaching them about the woman behind the scenes,” she said.
Anyone can contribute to this project by sending a sweet note for a birth mom to the address provided on her website — and Kelsey will take care of the rest. “When I’m asked about what to write in the card, I tell people: if you would just treat them like you would treat your own mom, that’s all you need to do.”
Before sending the cards out to birth moms, she reads each and every card herself. “It’s not just me just sending out an automated thing. People are handwriting these, and they’re putting thought into writing these messages,” Kelsey explained.
These cards are truly touching the hearts of many, and the effect they’re having is beautiful—one birth mom shared with her: “It’s been 20 years since I’ve placed my child for adoption, and this is the first time I’ve ever been acknowledged on Mother’s Day.”
Bringing a smile to birth mom’s face on Mother’s Day is exactly what Kelsey is hoping for.
Because once a mama, always a mama—and every mama ought to be remembered on Mother’s Day.