Monday, January 23, 2012
I am pretty open with people about our adoptions. I think it is great for people to ask questions and be properly informed...you know what it means to assume, right? :)
There are some tiny, innocent questions that never cease to make my heart ache just a bit:
What's their real mother like?
How is their real mother?
Have you talked to their real mother?
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that there is a pattern in those questions (for those of you that are not good with patterns, it's the words real mother.)
I usually respond honestly and with a smile to these questions but it is getting harder and harder to respond without a thick layer of sarcasm. I know these words are coming from friends and family that are trying to show a genuine interest in our lives. But please, think about those words for just one second.
In calling their birthmother a real mother. What does that make me? Am I caught up in a life long game of house with someone else's children?
How does one define "real" mother? Is she the one that carries you for 9+ months and then puts her body through hell to let you enter this world? Is she the one that gets up and feeds you at weird hours, rocks you to sleep, brings you to the doctor when you are sick, cries when you get immunization shots, listens to you cry and whine and understands that it is just an "off day," teaches you to crawl, walk, talk, be kind to one another, follows you through life guarding you as best as she can?
A REAL mother is all of these things
Here is a mini-lesson on positive adoption language:
*The one many of you call REAL mother is what we call a birthmother. She gave birth to our children. I am an adoptive mother, but at my house I am what we call Momma.
This language is safe because it portrays a positive image of both mothers and it recognizes the sacrifices that both mothers make for their children.
Many also ask if they are REAL siblings. Of course they are real siblings. Any of my children -- adopted, biological, or foster -- would be real siblings. I have one full brother and 4 half brothers but they are all my real siblings. I think what you want to ask is if they are biological siblings. The answer to that question is yes.
*Also important to know: My children are not adopted. My children were adopted. To say that they are makes adoption the thing that defines them. It is a part of them and their personal history, but they are so much more than that. We celebrate adoption at our house but as my children get older I want the fact that they were adopted to be a choice they get to make in telling people. Right now, other than with our friends and family, we share this fact on a need to know basis -- meaning, when you ask where they got their beautiful red hair from, we have no choice but to tell you that they were adopted.
*Lastly, our birthmother didn't give her children up for adoption. This implies that these girls are unwanted and she threw them to the side without thinking twice. If you have read any of my blog you will know this statement to be VERY untrue. Our birthmother loves her children very much. So much that she created an adoption plan for both of them to give them the lives that she felt they deserved.
I am not introducing this language to make you feel guilty or to scold you for saying the wrong things. I am a teacher by profession and this is what I do. We can't expect people to speak correctly if they are not educated on how to speak.
Do I expect the world will change because I posted this blog? No.
Will people still ask me about my daughters' REAL mother? Yes.
Will they also ask me other ridiculous questions like: Where did they come from? and How much did they cost? Yes.
But for now, I have vented and will be able to answer most questions without sarcasm. (I say most because I can't resist the temptation to answer the financial question with: I had a buy one-get one coupon.)