Inside a cramped and narrow room on the second floor of an un-air-conditioned government building in central China, young “aunties” prepared to hand off nine healthy, beautiful baby girls to their new families on that second Sunday in May.

I was the first to receive and hold that wiggly, hungry and overdressed infant who appeared terrified of my pale European features. Eight other sets of parents watched me receive the most precious Mother’s Day gift ever, my second child, and my first and only daughter. We quickly learned that she was daddy’s girl.

Every Mother’s Day since then, I pause for a moment, reminded that for each one of my daughter’s accomplishments and challenges, a mom in China wonders about her birth child. The May observance means joy for me, but sadness for another mom. Each birthday, holiday, or family celebration reminds her that someone is missing.

There is no way for me to share anything with my daughter’s birth mom. There is no such thing as an “open Chinese adoption.” Laws in China prohibit a mother from making an adoption plan that includes giving a baby up for adoption. It’s illegal and punishable.

Of course my daughter’s birth mom wonders where her baby is, I know she does. Even though I don’t have any information about the events surrounding her decision, my heart know she would want to know that her baby is safe, wanted, loved, cherished, and thriving.

This Mother’s Day, say a prayer of thanks for your mom. Hug her if you can. Moms have to do hard things, but some more than others. And loving well can be the hardest thing of all.

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