Yes, that time of year that most mothers and fathers look forward to. That cheerful card and fresh bunch of flowers, a lovely family roast dinner. OK well here’s the thing. Mother’s Day is a complex thing for many of our traumatised adoptees. It reminds them of their first family, who they may have mixed feeling about due to adverse events and some affectionate feelings, loyalty and abandonment. It underlines that their adoptive mum is not their biological parent and often takes the emotional flack for not being able to prevent their harm, simply being of the same gender as birth mother or a myriad of complex emotions.
In some ways when our adoptees are younger, mother’s day is easier. They might have a wobbler at home or push it at school but you still get a card (albeit soggy at the bottom of the book bag) and generally they can manage a family meal. But heading into teens, it is much more difficult. They aren’t provided with a card from school and therefore have to buy one and wrestle with all the difficult stuff listed above, often alone keeping it hidden (why oh why do we have to keep everything a surprise it really isn’t a help!) Even when given the money to do so some young people will struggle to get something. The meals out or in become more difficult. You have a teenager who doesn’t find socialising the easiest thing and communicates via grunt. Family and friends would expect the young person to have done a card but if not at least be warm, pleasant and loving to the mum and when this isn’t happening tension arises. The young person feels overwhelming shame and all the mixed up emotions appear and cause trouble all round.
So, how do we deal with Mother’s Day? Can we improve things and make it more manageable?
This week’s article looks at the responses we had from within POTATO to the trials and tribulations of Mother’s Day and how families have worked around it.