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For families of adoption, a day to honor birth mothers

It wasn’t that long ago that Jenny Amo thought she’d never become a mother. Then she met the woman who would make her dream come true.

Amo adopted a daughter, Lainey, five months ago. She was at the hospital when the baby was born, and she was there to cut the umbilical cord after the delivery.

But the ties with Lainey’s birth mother, she said, will always be there.

“I don’t want her to ever wonder, for one second, where do I come from? What does my birth mother look like?” Amo said. “She never will have to wonder.”

For Amo, today is a day to celebrate her first five months of motherhood. Saturday was the day to honor Lainey’s birth mother, Jennifer Quinnan.

Amo was among more than a dozen families who gathered Saturday at the Getzville Fire Hall to celebrate the women who gave birth to the children they’ve adopted. The Birth Mother’s Day celebration, organized by Adoption Star and filled with cupcakes, puppets and crafts, is deliberately scheduled for the day before Mother’s Day to acknowledge the stories of birth mothers who placed their children for adoption.

“They had such a sacrifice to make me a mom,” said Alison Tuff, a Rochester mother who adopted three children. “Thank you is just never enough.”

Tasha Moore, of Buffalo, placed two girls for adoption in 2005 and 2006. At the time, she said, she was a drug addict and was homeless. She has since turned her life around. She studies at Erie Community College and manages the dining room of an East Side community kitchen. But she still gets pictures, letters and updates from the parents who adopted her babies, and every year she comes to the birth mother celebration.

“It’s just something to be closer to the girls,” said Moore, who is raising two sons and will spend Mother’s Day with her family.

For birth mothers who place children for adoption, Mother’s Day can bring a mix of emotions. Quinnan, who made open adoption arrangements with the parents who adopted her children, gets together with them several times a year. Those are happy celebrations. But she said birth mothers who chose adoption can also experience guilt and depression, especially around a holiday geared toward honoring mothers.

“When people hear ‘adoption,’ their mindsets automatically go back to years ago, when everything was private, hush-hush. You don’t talk about it,” said Quinnan, of Cheektowaga. “Now, adoption has grown so much and there’s so many adopted families out there, so many adopted kids. I think it’s a great thing.”

Five months ago, Quinnan gave birth to the baby girl whom Amo would adopt. The two women – birth mother and new mom – sat at a table together on Saturday. They doted on 5-month-old Lainey, dressed in a tiny blue dress and a polka-dot headband.

Motherhood, Amo said, was something she had started to lose hope she would ever have. Now, her life is filled with a new baby and new, extended family.

“I got to cut the cord, and that was just amazing,” Amo said. “I can tell you, the second I saw Lainey coming out, all the frustration and sadness left. I knew that was where I was supposed to be.”