“To me the term Mother is earned. One doesn’t pop out a child and then wah-lah she is a Mother. That is something you earn as you love, nurture and rear that child and then stand by them as an adult.

So now on here I have the understanding that I can not use B.M. as it is offensive to Birth Mothers. Well, frankly, it is more comfortable for me to use those initials than it is for me to use the term Mother. So I will be continuing to use it. If moderators would like to ban me from this forum that is absolutely your right.”

This is a snippet from a post on an adoption forum I read; the rules prohibit users from using the abbreviation for “bowel movement” to refer to birthmothers. Now, I don’t ordinarily mind it, but it is a little disturbing coming from someone who clearly does want to communicate that the woman who gave birth to her is garbage.  I read this while trying in the back of my mind trying to compose a post—I guess this post—about realizing that I need to learn more about adoptee loss. I told my therapist that I don’t want to think that Cricket has any loss inherent in his adoption, and she stopped me right there: “It’s a huge loss, and you need to acknowledge that.” Really? I mean, he went straight from my arms to theirs, literally. My therapist tells me that even though Cricket was never away from people who love him, he must grieve the loss of my voice and smell. (My therapist asked if I could leave something that smelled like me with Cricket, and that seemed both weird and inappropriate. She doesn’t have a lot of experience with open adoptions, and I’m pretty sure that I’m right on this one. Ruth and Nora don’t need any “comfort” objects around that don’t come from them.) I protest that he has been sweet and cheerful from day one, and she says that this is adaptive bonding, and that it accompanies grief. I guess it’s probably clear that I’m really fighting this idea. I can’t really tell how much of that is me unable to tolerate the idea that I’ve hurt Cricket and how much is a less complicated inability to see loss in his life.

Take the primal wound; I don’t know whether I buy it. If you had asked me three years ago, before I was at all involved in adoption, I would have told you that it was nonsense. Now I am less certain but still pretty skeptical—that said, if Cricket grows up to believe that he has this wound, I want to respect and believe him. And I read Dawn’s posts about Madison and the loss she feels, and it troubles my understanding.


3 thoughts on “Voila

  1. Wowwwww to that post from the adoption forum. I guess my view is that my son’s birth mom is his mom, and I am his mom — one doesn’t diminish the other. She did earn her title — she cared for and nurtured him throughout her pregnancy and, although she is not raising him, she continues to love him and to try to do the best for him.

    As for loss, my son has been with us since he was a few days old. I don’t think he has experienced a loss of love — his first mom loves him and we love him. I do think he has lost togetherness. He is only 2 years old and, although he only knows his first mom through photos and letters, he has already said, “I want the other mama,” and “I miss the other mama.” I think he understands that she is someone important and he doesn’t understand why she isn’t here with him.

    My son is adopted transracially, so I also feel like he has lost the opportunity to be raised in a family where he looks like his family members. He is now a part of a family that is different, that attracts attention and questions, a family where he doesn’t have a role model for who he is as a (future) black man.

    I think open adoptions does a lot to *address* these losses, but openness doesn’t *prevent* the losses. I hope that, eventually, our semi-open adoption will become fully open, because I think our son would really benefit from having a relationship with his birth family. I also think that I can do a lot for him by acknowledging his losses, by being open with him, and by actively trying to provide him with some of the things he lacks — for example, providing him with black role models and friends.

    And I think that you are actively trying to address Cricket’s losses, whether or not you view them as losses, by continuing to be present in his life, by visiting him, by buying him books that were important to you, by showing him that you love him.

  2. My son lost more than one mother before I met him–his first mom who placed him into foster care voluntarily at birth, and his foster mom of the next 14 months, and then another foster mom he had for a couple of weeks.

    While he was obviously very traumatized by loss of familiar caregivers and moving so much, there aren’t any observable signs that he’s missing either of them today at age 5. He has photos and has been told the story, but doesn’t yet show much interest or express much curiosity about them. He has never asked where they are or why they are not around or why his mom or previous foster moms didn’t keep him.

    My thinking is that this is because he doesn’t yet really understand that his way of arriving into a family isn’t typical. My expectation is that his sense of loss will grow (and grow)as he’s older and realizes that for him to have been in foster care, that means someone put him there, and that he’s lost that person, and all the other people who would’ve been his family.

    I first read The Primal Wound for a class years before our adoption, when I was the mom of three kids I’d birthed. I didn’t read it and think “Oh, yeah, that sounds right”, I thought it was a bit of a stretch. But it might be worth reading again to see if my experiences with my son change my perspective.

  3. Madison cried for four months after she came home with us; that kills me. I think there were a lot of reasons (she needed to move constantly — in our arms while we WALKED with her upright so she could see, preferably outside with tree branches overhead and if you please some wind to blow in her face — once she started scootching around on her belly, she stopped crying. She was walking at 7 months 3 weeks) but certainly I think a big part was missing Pennie. Yes, it sucks. IT SUCKS. I hate that Pennie has to live with that BUT what I’ve told her and I will tell you now (and I tell myself because I’m the one who took the baby): WE ARE ALL DOING THE BEST WE CAN. We were doing the best we could then, too. One day I hope that our kids understand that (not just the adopted ones but the rest of ’em, too). We are imperfect people and we do the best we can. Sometimes we look back and we can feel secure it was the right thing. Sometimes we look back and wonder. Sometimes we look back and wish we had it all to do over again.

    The one thing you need to know and understand is that you matter to Cricket and he needs you. That’s the part you need to take from this. However he feels about his adoption is his to feel and we can just love our kids through it and be strong enough for their condemnation and grateful for their love. It’s the best any parent can do. And we have to keep on trying. Always.

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