Before we get any further, know this: I’m not a mom. And, even though I’ve lived through 28 Mother’s Days since being born, I obviously can’t grasp the full meaning of Mother’s Day yet. From what I can tell, having a piece of your heart out there walking around in the world seems a little bit amazing and a little bit horrible. 

Motherhood sounds complicated. And good! And very exhausting.

But, for a lot of adoptive and birth moms, Mother’s Day can bring up even more conflicting emotions — of happiness, loss and even a weird mix of both. 

I grew up in an open adoption. You might think that, with a birth mother and an adoptive mother, I might have similarly complex feelings about Mother’s Day. For some adoptees, especially those who grew up in a closed adoption, it is complicated

But for me, it’s fairly simple.

Every May, I think about all the things my mom does for me (and all the ways I’ve probably been a lousy daughter). I also sometimes think about the things my birth mom has done for me.

I’m not great at expressing the love and gratitude that I feel on a regular basis. So, Moms, in case I forget to tell you later, here it is now:

For My Mom

My mother — the one who adopted me, raised me and still takes care of me, whether I want it or not — has given me everything and then some. 

Kids were jealous that she was my mom, and I’ve always been proud to call her mine. She is a five-foot-nothing, blonde-turned-silver, compassionate scholar that can bloom in soil that wouldn’t hold a tumbleweed. I’m not sure how her tiny body contains that heart.

Other kids wanted to hang around my house to bask in a little bit of the love that my mom shone down on her children. In addition to all that love, she gave me unwavering support, encouragement and every opportunity. 

She would love for me to need her more than I do. I think all moms feel this way when their kids are grown. 

But she raised a sturdy, independent daughter into adulthood. You did good, Mom. And all children will always need their moms — myself included.

I will never stop feeling lucky for having ended up with you as my mother. 

Did I mention I love you? I love you.

For My Birth Mom

I love you, too. You’re a good mom. I see how wonderfully you’ve raised your kids. Sometimes, for a second, I wonder what my life would have been like if you were my mom. But you made a tough, good-mom call and saw that I needed to be with my mom. 

You gave my mom to me, and I’ll never stop being grateful to you for that each Mother’s Day. Thank you for my mother.

All of the flowery, glitter-crusted “I Love Mom” cards I made each May have been handed to my mother. And I’m sure your kids have kept you flush in the traditional sticker-covered declarations of love. 

But I want to add a special shoutout of my own for you. 

Thank you for being my birth mom. That’s definitely a true mom status of its own. You looked out for me and loved me. You also handed me to my mom, which couldn’t have been easy, even though I’m sure you saw what I see in her.

For My Moms

In my life, my mom and my birth mother worked together to ensure my wellbeing. They have a lot of love and respect for one another, and I could see it between them when my birth mother would come to visit when I was little. Even though my mother did the mom-work of staying up with me when I was sick, sewing costumes and filling every lunchbox with cute notes, my birth mom showed her own maternal love by “just checking to make sure you’re ok.” It was clear that I was (and still am) in very good hands with my mom — and she knew that.

Motherhood seems to be a team effort, regardless of whether or not adoption was involved. There are a lot of women involved in a child’s upbringing — family friends, aunts, grandmas, great-grandmas and a whole army of women who are making sure that you turn out okay. Whether they have kids or not, that’s pretty much what a mom does, right?

There’s no doubt in my mind that my mom, Sherry Anne, is the shiniest star in my little galaxy. She deserves a parade. But my sky is dotted with other stars — other “types” of moms to whom I’m also grateful. 

To all the moms, thank you. 

Diana Watts is an adoptee and a staff writer at American Adoptions. You can read more about her adoption story here.