Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Mother's Day Gift - Real Moms

I recently read this post on another adoption listserve and it touched my heart enough that I wanted to share it with our PEAR readers. So, with permission from the author, I give you all a Mother's Day gift, Gina Pollock, President, PEAR (please note, the author of this peice has chosen to remain anonymous to protect her privacy and the privacy of her children)

On an adoption-related list, someone posted that Mother's Day was for "real moms", i.e., not birthmoms. I would like to reply from the perspective of the many hats I wear: a birthmom, bio-mom, and adoptive mom.

I don't agree with limiting the title of "real mother" to adoptive moms. I truly wish that the phrase "real mother" be banished from the lexicon! I think about what that phrase means when one of my children, in momentary anger, say to me "You're not my real mom." It comes from wanting to hurt my feelings, and she knows it might get to me, even though she is just 7 years old. When we use the phrase ourselves, taking the title of "real mom", I believe that it is also meant to hurt the birthmother, even subliminally. Or it is meant to cope with our own feelings of fear or loss. But I don't believe that the term is ever useful or okay. Do we really need to say to our children that we are their "real" mom? Do we doubt for a minute our place in their emotional life? Choosing to celebrate birthmothers on a separate day, is, to me, like saying, "Oh, thanks so much for your sacrifice. Now go away and don't remind us that there is anyone else my child might have feelings for."

I am many kinds of mom, all of them "real." I have 4 children: a grown son, two grade-schoolers, and a toddler. All but one of my children have two real moms. My oldest son was born to me and was raised by his adoptive mom. I have another bio son that I am raising, and two girls who became my daughters through adoption. I try never to use the term real mom, other than to say that they have two real moms--the one who gave birth to them and the one who raises them. Each mom's meaning in their lives is different, and important, and how they feel about it will be different for each child.

As far as a "Birthmother's Day," the adoptive mom in me says it's a nice idea to honor her. The birthmom in me says it should not take the place of the other Mother's Day. Acknowledging a birthmother only on "Birthmother's Day" is, to me, just another way of saying you're not a "real" mom.

I knew I'd met the man I was going to marry when, the first Mother's Day after we met, he sent me a Mother's Day card with a personal thought written inside. My first child would have been about 20 by then. This was the first time anyone had acknowledged that I was a mother on Mother's Day. Sure, most regular Hallmark cards wouldn't make sense. But he found one that was simple enough, and it meant the world to me. I knew that a man that perceptive and sensitive was the guy for me.

I know that my oldest son doesn't think of me when he gets hurt, or when he remembers that special birthday party or Thanksgiving dinner. And that is how it should be. I love him enough to not be threatened by his secure love for his mom, but rather am happy for it. I’d like to think that she is not threatened by the love he has for me, because she shouldn't be. And I hope that my unique experience has taught me to let go and not be threatened by my girls' feelings for their own birthmothers. Not that I don't get a twinge here and there, that's for sure! But if I can't let my children express love for their birthmothers, as mothers, then to me it is like saying, in a way, that their birthmother doesn't love them like a mother. I can tell you that every day of my life, I think of my first child, and my love for him is no less intense than my love for the three children I am lucky enough to be parenting. I hope that is also the case for my girls' birthmothers.

I don't presume to speak for all birthmothers, and I don't expect everyone to agree with me, but I am glad to have this forum to express my take on things.

Happy Mother's Day to everyone!