Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Two Mothers?

Today we are featuring a guest post by Monika from Monika's Musings, a blog which discusses the adoption triad from a birth mother's point of view. The original post can be found here along with other posts that shine an all important light on this side of the adoption triad. 

A member of one of the birthmom support groups on Facebook of which I’m a part posted a question the other day that inspired me to do some thinking.  The birthmom referenced relinquished two daughters to adoption and she was uncertain how to refer to her daughters’ parents in their presence.  The example she used was a possible visit scenario where she might be having an interaction with her daughter and one of her daughter’s parents wanted her daughter.  She was asking how she would reference her daughter’s parents to her daughter in that situation.
The birthmoms, including me, that answered the post were all in agreement.  We would call our child’s parents by “Mom” and “Dad,” or by whatever our child calls them.  In other words, I call T & C “Mommy” and “Daddy” to her when I’m in her presence because that’s what she calls them.  When I’m not talking to Mack about her parents, I address them by their first names because though they are parents, they’re not my parents.  However I got the feeling by this specific birthmom’s question that though she knew that her children should be calling someone other than her by the term “mom,” she had some emotional difficulty with that thought.  I don’t blame her.  That’s one of the toughest things that we have to swallow as birthmoms.  It’s hard to hear the child you carried and nurtured for nine months call someone else “mom.”
Along this same line, however, the fact that she’s no longer legally a mom doesn’t take away her biological motherhood, and the fact that she can love her daughters like the mother that she is.  This is a difficult concept for a lot of people to grasp whether they’re directly involved in adoption or not.  When I heard James Gritter speak in Portland he briefly touched on this subject.  His essential thought was that he preferred saying of his children, “I’m their father” instead of “They’re my kids.”  While I don’t mind saying of Mack that she’s my daughter, Jim is right to discourage the feelings of possession when talking about the kids we parent in one way or another.  His point is that kids aren’t possessions, and I agree.  They’re not things.  We do not purchase them, and a parent’s job is to raise those children to independent adulthood as independent beings, not as possessions.  I think when we encourage the feelings of possessiveness in ourselves or in each other, that “possession” can cause jealousy and hard feelings that are so abhorrent especially in open adoption situations.
When I refer to Mack as my daughter and myself as her mother, that doesn’t detract from T being Mack’s mother as well.  I also know that just because I’m Mack’s mother doesn’t mean I have the same authority in her life as T has in her life.  It’s okay for us to both be “mother” since we’re both clear about the roles we have and had in our daughter’s life.  As an example, I have a couple of friends whose kids call me “auntie.”  There’s no biological or adoptive relationship there other than the fact that their mothers and I are close enough emotionally to feel like sisters.  However, my being called a familial term does not take away from the child’s aunts that have that biological or legal relationship, nor does their relationship with that same child take away from my role in that child’s life.  Let’s put it another way.  Imagine a set of parents has two children.  It doesn’t matter whether those children are biologically related or not.  Don’t both of those children call their parents “Mom” and “Dad?”  One of those children calling his or her mom, “Mom” doesn’t take away from the fact that this same person is also “Mom” to that other child.
Additionally the birthmom that posed the question also referred to her daughters as “birth daughters.”  I don’t call Mack my “birth daughter.”  I call her my daughter.  In the same way that me calling myself Mack’s mother doesn’t take away from T’s role as her mom, my referring to Mack as my daughter instead of my “birth daughter” doesn’t mean that she’s any less her parent’s daughter.  She doesn’t need an additional qualifier.  I relinquished my rights to her, but that doesn’t mean she was only my daughter until I relinquished my rights to her.
So to the birthmom that asked that question: You are your daughter’s mom.  She is your daughter, not your “birth daughter.”  She will grow up knowing who you are and your role in her life just as she will grow up knowing her mom and her mom’s role in her life.  One does not detract from the other.

No comments:

Post a Comment