Sunday, March 7, 2010

“I didn’t ask to be adopted” or “You’re not my real mom!” « Strained Relations

“I didn’t ask to be adopted” or “You’re not my real mom!” « Strained Relations

Words that strike parents in ways few other words can do.

Certainly, biological kids have their own words that hurt, but this is very different.
Some adoptive parents have open homes, open hearts to kids of all ages and conditions and have a mix of biological, foster and adopted children. Others are like me, people who lived through miscarriages and years of infertility treatments.

For me, adoption wasn’t the last thing I had thought about for creating a family. In fact, since I was young, I saw it as a great way to build a family. Adopted children were special and not “second best.”

We adopted a baby at birth, taking care of him as any parent would take care of his/her child. One day, when he was around 7, he said he didn’t have to do what I asked as I was not his “real” mom.

Not his real mom? I felt faint, angry, resentful, incredibly wounded, like it was an arrow through my heart. Not his real mom?

Here’s what I said, and this is almost verbatim: “Who do you think raised you so far? Who was changing your diapers, getting you food, taking you to the park and reading to you at night? Who plays games with you, makes sure you bathe and brush your teeth? Do you see any other mom here? No. I am your mom and that is that. Now go to your room and think about what I said.”

He never said anything like that to me again, but I wonder if he harbored those thoughts of anger or resentment and just kept them to himself.

I relayed this once to another adoptive mom, and she had been told by a defiant your daughter, “I didn’t ask to be adopted.” This from a child who didn’t want to clean her room, throwing out every excuse until she got to this one that might sidetrack her mother. The mom retained her calm demeanor and said, “You are not to talk back. Go to your room and whatever is not picked up off the floor and put away nicely on your shelves in 5 minutes will be thrown out.” She meant it. The mother took those few minutes to calm down and think about how she wanted to address this with her child.

She waited for another day and took her daughter for a walk, exploring feelings on both sides. What does it feel like to be adopted, and what does it feel like to adopt? Why did you adopt me? Why didn’t my birthmother keep me? There were a lot of questions addressed, and they returned to this topic several times over the years as the daughter matured.

If you’re a stepparent, you may have experienced “You’re not my real mom/dad, and ….”

Have you experienced this? What did you say or do? Do you have advice for others?

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