Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Adoption "B" Word

My 12 year old daughter used yesterday for the first time what I have come to call the adoption "B" word. The "B" standing for birth mother. I have to wonder if all adoptive mothers feel the same way. This tug down deep, a pull so strong, an aversion, and yet you smile and address the questions and probings. It is not for lack of appreciation for the womb from which they came. It is the gut wrenching pull of them using the term mother about another person. Looking at this child, that I love with all I have, nurture and fight to raise with morals and compassion, I want to scream you are mine, all mine. But the curiosity is normal and that push pull on my insides makes me feel like small rocks are gathering in the pit of my being and weigh heavier and heavier with each passing moment. She tells me she would like to find her one day even though she knows nothing about her. I fight my own demons and tell her that I have information for her, and when she is old enough I will share it. "How old?" she asks. I tell her 18, or 21, when I think you are mature enough to handle it. There is a silent scream of torment in my mind, a brief futuristic glimpse of a meeting and someone else being called Mom. It brings tears to my eyes that I hide and a sharp visceral pain. She is not old enough yet to know, or be able to comprehend the circumstances of her birth and subsequent adoption. I will not share it on here for that is for her ears and hers alone. She deserves that respect. She asks with surprise, "you'll let me meet her?". It takes all of the strength of my being to answer that I will help you to do that if that is what you want. I can't tell her how desperately I don't want to do this. I can't describe the feeling of panic that washes over me briefly. Her look of surprise and pleasure is shockingly disconcerting. She seems satisfied for the moment and she lets the subject rest. She goes on to watch TV looking peaceful, topic forgotten. I wish it were that easy for me. Once the "B" word is out in the open it is the elephant in the room. For now my 7 year old is content with knowing he was born in my heart. He knows he is adopted but it has little meaning for him. This too will change, and I dread that. You believe you are prepared. You go into adoption knowing the parameters. Knowing that children deserve truth, and that these questions will come. No one though, can prepare for those moments, and the complexity of emotions they stir up. I gather my senses and build up my strength for the next round. It is inevitable. It will come. It will. It will.


  1. Only by being able to love your children as fiercely as you do, can you be so truly vulnerable to the pangs you feel. My adoptive mother has no such vulnerability. When, at the age of 9 or 10, I voiced my curiosity about the B word, she simply said "Your mother was a common whore," and walked out the room. Of course, there never was a next time. Your love is your children's power...against both the past and the future. (And, btw, thanks for sharing it!)

  2. I'm adopted. My parents weren't able to have children. My brother is adopted as well.

    My mother told me she 'wasn't my real mother' back when I was young. I remember telling her, "ah yeah, you are."

    I never wanted to find nor meet my birth mother. It might be nice when visiting the doctors to know a medical history, but that's it. I know their names, but it doesn't matter.

    I probably had a better life with my parents than I would have otherwise. My mother was the BEST woman (she passed 2 months ago) ever. I wouldn't trade her for anything. Birth mother or adoptive's the MOTHER part thast matters. It doesn't matter who gave birth, it's the life lived after that fact that makes a difference.