Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Titles Sometimes = Gray Areas

In my personal experience, I've found that adoption language is a little more than difficult to navigate. It's really not black and white, and there are so many gray areas (I ALMOST said so many shades of gray, probably because I've heard so much about that book lately!), which can cause people to walk on eggshells. Not just friends and family of birth parents or adoptive parents, but the birth parents and adoptive parents themselves. For example, I will always think of my little girl as my daughter. I know I signed my parental rights away, but I will always think of her that way.  I have never referred to her as my birth daughter, because personally, it doesn't feel right to me. Not that it isn't - I'm just not comfortable with it, whereas another birth mom may be comfortable with it.

My daughter's mom always refers to me as her birth mom, which is completely fine. I personally do not love the term, but I do prefer it over 'first mom,' or 'natural mom,' because the first makes it sound as if her adoptive mom comes second, and the latter makes it sound as if her adoptive mom is 'unnatural' - neither of which are things I believe. I get conflicted at times, because I refer to her adoptive mom simply as her "mom." While I recognize that I am not actively our daughter's "mommy," sometimes I wish we could both simply be called "mother." Sometimes adding adjectives adds conflict. (I have a habit of analyzing words, if you couldn't tell).

For Arianna's birthday, Jared* (*not her birthdad's real name) signed her card, 'your loving father,' which her mom and dad didn't take too well to. They were friendly and polite, but asked him not to refer to himself that way, as her dad who is raising her earns that title. She would prefer he signed it 'your loving birth father.' She gave me the heads up that she was going to be writing to Jared to tell him, which I appreciated, and I completely took her side. He does not deserve the same title or recognition that her daddy does! However, after speaking to him about it, and seeing how hurt he was, I started to see his side as well. At the end of the day, he is still her father -- no, not her "daddy," -- but without him being her father in the first place, her adoptive dad wouldn't have that title (not to sound overly self-righteous - because I'm not like that). Now the situation has blown over, but I'm still floating somewhere between seeing his side and also completely understanding hers. This is what I mean about the "gray" areas.

Have you run into any of these "gray" areas head-on throughout your adoption experience? If so, how did you handle them?  Are you able to "keep the peace?"

1 comment:

  1. As an adoptive mom, I feel this way too. If I'm talking without analyzing the confusion, I tend to call my children's birth or mother, whereas I consider myself their mommy. But, I don't know if this confuses my children, they seem to understand the difference, but they're young yet, and if I say "mom" to refer to the birth moms in public, what signal am I giving my kids or others, and oh boy, the looks I get. They are my babies, but they are also in the hearts of the women who needed help to ensure their children's safety, security, and advantages they weren't sure they could provide. They are moms because moms give selflessly for the best of their children. They are moms because they chose to hurt rather than potentially hurt their children (any more than necessary-I do not argue that adopted children miss their birth families). I guess the best we can do is support one another through those gray areas, and keep open communication, and try not to hurt when we're not completely on the same page. Thank you for sharing a piece of your story!