amelia excitedly announced tuesday night at dinner. “yes you do,” i replied. “i have a stepmother, and i have you,” she said. “no, i am not your stepmother. i am your adoptive mother. and your other mommy, is your birth-mom.”
i have never been opposed to talking about this with our kids, especially our daughter. she was 3 1/2 when she was taken from her birth home so she is aware of her adoption situation. but this conversation struck me as odd. she called me her “stepmother”. the only thing i can think of that would lead her to that is maybe there is a divorce situation in a family at school and she has heard the child talking about their stepmother. or, maybe it’s from cinderella. i hope that doesn’t mean she thinks i am evil and ruining her world!
whatever made her say what she said, it caused me to say something for the first time too. until that conversation, i had never referred to myself, in front of our children, as their adoptive mother. i have always just referred to myself as mom. even sometimes yelling, “because i am your mom and i said so.” now our adoption story, took on a whole new perspective, for them.
instead of having a “mommy who carried you in her tummy and gave birth to you”, and a “mommy who gets to take care you now”, our kids know the terms birth-mom and adoptive mom. and i am okay with this. it’s something i didn’t try to hide from them, nor would i ever. it had never come up before. i just wonder what it will do to them. having words to label their life with. it’s the mystery of adoption i guess. the beauty of a new family being born while the other family is lost. the acceptance of the unknown. the unknown of this other woman out there who created them, carried them, birthed them, named them.
i will honor that. i decided that a long time ago. i will not take away the importance of their beginnings. and i will not try to make myself, or my role in their lives, more important than that. without that start, though bad it may be, i wouldn’t be able to be their mom now.
this is sounding like a mother’s day post, i know. i am about a month too early. but that comment the other night really stuck in my head. that, and one made by a highschooler in a class i shared our story with last week. one of my girlfriends is a family and consumer sciences teacher at our local high school. she invited me to come in and talk about adoption and foster care with one of her classes. there was some time for questions/comments towards the end of the class and one boy shared something that i consider to be very powerful. his girlfriend is adopted and recently he asked if she knew her birth-mother’s name. the adoptive mother was furious and yelled at him, “i am her mom.” along with something else like, “we don’t talk about that.” or “don’t ever ask that again.” (i can’t remember his exact wording) this poor kid was visibly upset by this. it seemed to catch him totally off guard. he wanted to get my opinion on the situation since i am, essentially, in the same boat as that adoptive mom. and i told him, very honestly, that i thought it was a very selfish way to act. taking sole responsibility for someone’s life. yes, she has raised her, provided for her. but, she got her start with someone else, and no matter how much that hurts or we wish it weren’t true, it is the truth. we have to acknowledge the past, while moving on with the present, into the future. how sad for that girl to hear her birth-mother denied in such anger.
i don’t ever want to act that way, especially in front of my children. i have this love/hate relationship with their mother, in my mind of course, since i don’t know her personally. but i know who she is. and i know what’s she done to my children. and it makes me so angry. but i can’t change it. i can only love them and make sure those things never happen to them again. i can speak well of her now, until they are old enough for the truth. old enough to fully understand. boy, will they ever fully understand? i am not sure they will because i can’t. none of what happened to them up until the day they were removed from their birth home makes sense to me. but, i know somehow we’ll get through it. somehow God will give us the words to explain it as best we can. He’ll give us the words to explain our love for them. with His help i will do my best to be a great one, of two mommies. one that hopefully my daughter, and my sons, will be proud to claim as her adoptive mom.