It’s coming up to that time of year again, mothers everywhere are preparing to be pampered, appreciated and gifted by loved ones. Shopping centres are full of gift ideas, flowers, chocolates and trinkets to be bestowed upon the mothers of the world. However there is a history to this day not commonly known by all.
The history of Mother’s Day

Although it’s often called Mothers’ Day it has no connection with the American festival of that name. Traditionally, it was a day when children, mainly daughters, who had gone to work as domestic servants were given a day off to visit their mother and family. People from Ireland and the UK started celebrating Mother’s Day on the same day that Mothering Sunday was celebrated, the fourth Sunday in Lent. The two celebrations have now been mixed up, and many people think that they are the same thing. The modern holiday of Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. St Andrew’s Methodist Church now holds the International Mother’s Day Shrine.


The implications of Mother’s Day on fostered and adopted young people
As families across the UK look forward to making their mothers feel special on Mother’s Day, some families may feel apprehensive about it. Children who are in foster care or adopted may feel very sad or even dread it coming round as it will remind them of how they are not living at home with their own mothers. For these families it can be seen as a negative occasion.

The implications are far reaching for fostered and adopted children, many of whom have attachment issues and Mother’s Day highlights the absence of birth families more acutely than other occasions. Whilst some fostered and adopted children may show resilience and feel able to celebrate the day with both foster and birth family contact, others may not be as fortunate and feel alienated. It’s an easy assumption to make that everyone would have a mother to treat on Mother’s day but foster parents know first-hand what pain it can cause a child who is growing up in an environment which may be different to their friends.

Emotional pressure of Mother’s Day
Schools encourage children to hand make Mother’s Day cards – this often places emotional pressure on children to partake in the occasion and for children in care could serve as a reminder that they don’t have a ‘normal’ life. Mother’s Day can be managed tactfully by foster parents by tailoring involvement to suit the needs of their foster child. It’s not a one size fits all solution but recognising how the child feels about it can help in planning ahead sensitively. If it is apparent that the day holds little or no value to the child or serves as a painful reminder of separation from birth family then carers can react and respond sensitively to this.

Advice to foster carers
In contrast for children who do wish to participate, carers can be inclusive and offer the option of buying a flower for each mother figure they’ve had, whether that is a birth mother or a foster mother. This could change a potentially negative day for children in care, into a day where love and appreciation can be shared equally factoring in both birth and foster families. Suffice to say there is no ordinary way to experience Mother’s Day for children in care as each one will have their own personal experiences of it good and bad. It will mean different things to different children each will have their unique perspective on the day and it’s about foster families respecting that and supporting the child to feel loved, welcome and valued as a part of the family regardless of the emotional complexities.

Kamarun Kalam
Fosterline Advisor


Advice from Fosterline
Current and prospective foster carers can call Fosterline to speak to one of our advisors Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm on 0800 040 7675 or email

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