There have been a lot of blog posts recently about questions the infertile community hate as well as questions adoptive parents hate. Someone in one of the birth mom groups of which I’m a part asked us to give feedback about the questions we as birth moms hate to get, inspired by the “hate posts” circling around the internet right now. This in turn inspired me to write a post of my own.
1. What are you going to do with future children?
This one’s my “favorite.” Amanda Argyriadis, a fellow birth mom, says that she likes to answer this particular question with snark and sarcasm. “Oh you know, I was just planning on getting knocked up so I could go through the trauma and heartbreak of separation cause I don’t want my membership to incubators-r-us to be called into question.” She then said she likes to follow it with a raised eyebrow “and, if you can get away with it, a smack upside the head.” I particularly like the “smack upside the head.” This question rather brings to mind a “Here’s Your Sign” moment, coined of course by Bill Engval.
2. Is it co-parenting?
This question probably gets asked of adoptive parents in open adoptions more than birth parents living the same, but it bugs us as well. I suppose if you look at the word in the most literal sense, it is “co-parenting.” I retained my motherhood when I relinquished my daughter to adoption, therefore I am a parent just as her mom and dad are parents. However, I do not have input, nor do I expect it, in the way that my daughter is being raised. If her parents ever ask Nick or me for input on a specific situation, we will provide it. But we would no more expect our advice to be followed than any other friend or family member should expect in the same situation.
3. Don’t you love your child? Didn’t you want your child?
Yes. We love and want our children. If it was simple desire and love that were motivations for relinquishing or not, we would all be raising our children.
4. Aren’t you glad she/he is in a better place?
Ugh. Our children are not “better off” without us. When we place our children, we hope that their adoptive parent(s) are more prepared to parent our child than we are at the time, but it is not “better.” It is different, obviously. This terminology causes me and other birth moms to feel as if the person asking the question is implying our children are dead and in heaven.
5. The decision is done. Why don’t you move on?
A birth mom will never “move on.” We will never forget, nor should we. Whether we have open adoption relationships with our children and their parents or not, being a birth mom means that we have a lifetime of grief. We should move forward with our lives, but moving on implies something completely different.
6. Aren’t you happy you made your child’s adoptive parents happy?
Like I’ve said repeatedly, mothers who make the decision to place their children with adoptive parents do not do so to make those adoptive parents happy. We do so for the benefit of our children. While I’m personally happy that my daughter’s parents are happy with my daughter, this question implies that their happiness should have been my sole reason for placing. This is simply not true.
7. Are you taking it okay?
Taking what okay? The fact that I’ve chosen a lifetime of grief and loss so that my child could have parents that were more prepared to parent her than Nick and me? I’m sorry, but no one can be expected to take that sort of loss and be okay with it, no matter how at peace one is with the decision that has been made. I am at peace. I don’t regret the choice of adoption or the choice of my daughter’s parents, though I do regret the circumstances that led me to make the decision I made. But I will never be “okay” again. I will never go back to the way I was before I had and relinquished my daughter.
The rest of these are statements, though there are implied questions with each of them.
8. At least your child’s needs are well provided and she (or he) is happy.
I know this is meant as a consolation for the grief. But saying this says to us that the person making the statement assumes our child wouldn’t have been happy staying with us or that his or her needs wouldn’t have been well provided.
9. Don’t worry, you can always have more.
No child, no matter how loved and wanted they may be, will ever or can ever replace the loss of a child, whether that loss is from adoption or if that loss is caused by infertility issues. This is why I firmly believe that counseling is necessary and time for healing needs to take place if there are infertility issues that cause someone to consider adoption or if there is a loss due to adoption before those people bring another child into their home.
10. You’re not that child’s mother. You need to let that child go.
Just no. I will always be my daughter’s mother, just like my daughter’s mother will always be her mother. Relinquishing legal parental rights does not erase my biological connection to my daughter, nor does it erase any birth mother’s biological connection to her child. We can let go of the fact that we cannot parent our children in the “traditional” way, and I would argue that it is necessary to do that. But we cannot and should not ever try to let our connection to our children go.
What questions or statements do you hate to hear?