As we are drawn to reflect on how to honor and thank our mothers on May 8th , I am fortunate to have more than one mother to acknowledge and thank. As an adoptive parent of two phenomenal children ages 8 and 10, I have two additional mothers who have been powerful forces in the life of my family . Twice, I stood by my children’s birthmothers in the delivery room while each of my children was born. I was fortunate to build a relationship over months to the two strong, young mothers who knew that they were not ready to raise their unborn children and chose me to adopt and care for the infants they were soon to deliver. For some, it’s a complicated issue to understand–why would a mother give up her child at birth? And it may really only be the adoptive parent who can truly understand that an adopted child can be loved and treasured just as deeply if born of another woman’s womb. I bonded immediately with my infants and the gift I received from these two women has forever changed my life.
My children were delivered in well-staffed and resourced hospitals after nine months of quality prenatal care. That simply is not the case for the majority of women around the world. Millions of women every day cannot access a functioning healthcare clinic that is staffed with clinicians and has the medicine they need to stay healthy. Pregnant women face these barriers everyday and the result is devastating. This Sunday on Mother’s day, over 2,000 women will die from complications of pregnancy–and yet those complications could have been averted if they had access to perinatal care or were able to get to a functional clinic when their complications arose.
Prior to adopting my children I worked in rural Cambodia and East Africa for a decade as a clinician and could recall several times when a mother passed her tiny newborn to me. She wanted me to take the baby home because she was too weak due to anemia or malaria–chronic illnesses that make it nearly impossible to manage a resource-poor household and to keep young children nourished and safe. I treated women with post-partum hemorrhage or with urgent infections from septic abortions. I held five month old babies who were not named at birth because their mothers knew that they were underweight and undernourished and might not survive. I saw, first hand, the barriers that pregnant women face and the consequences that result and I was forever changed. I was drawn and determined to bring awareness to this global problem. I worked first as a clinician and now as an advocate to serve this population.
I co-founded C2C 2 ½ years ago with another phenomenal woman, Allison Howard Berry. We were both driven by the belief that woman and children in resource poor communities should have a right to simple primary healthcare. Our innovative model converts used shipping containers into high quality medical clinics and deploys them in partnerships with local organizations that staff and operate them with the aim to improve the outcomes for pregnant women and their infants.
On this Mother’s Day, I have three mothers to thank and countless women to honor as they serve as the foundations of their community, their families and the world.