I grew up believing the concept of a mother was very simple. She was the one and only mom I ever knew or thought I’d know. She was irreplaceable. I don’t even have words to describe our relationship – it just felt right, it just felt like love lead the way and everything else fell into place. I know I look back at it with rose-coloured glasses, but I still think it was pretty much the ideal mother-daughter bond. For years, my mom was simply mom, so for me, she embodied the concept and therefore the only definition I ever knew.
Then she died, and my dad re-married. And I quickly discovered that the term mom had many more connotations and complexities. I received a step-mom, regardless of if I wanted one. She never tried to replace my mom, which I’ve always been grateful for. But she also never seemed to take an active in mothering me either – If anything, for my teenage years she was rather distant focusing on her own children with me feeling a bit like a necessary burden.
During my teenage years I turned to an Aunt for many “mothering” activities. She lived on the other side of the continent and in a different country, yet she always made me feel special – something I was desperately missing in my life at home. She seemed to understand simple things like that no young teenage girl wants to buy any sort of feminine product for herself, so whenever she visited she stocked me up with the necessities. Or, she took the initiative to take me bra shopping. You know, simple necessities, and also simple acts of compassion and love. In my humble opinion, these are the things that all great mom’s have in common.
In the last few years, I’ve become a mother, yet I have no living children to show for it. I know understand the fierce love that comes from a mother to her child. A never ending, life altering, pure love, so deep that it will stay with me for the rest of my days. Love, free of toxin’s and complexities. Love, based purely in innocence combined with hope and fear for the future. No questions asked, no hesitations allowed, simply love, unlike nothing I have ever experienced before.
And today as I look forward to adopting our child(ren) I cannot help but wonder, what will I be? I will be a mom, absolutely. But will I be an adoptive mom? At our local adoption group meetings all the mom’s refer to themselves as an adoptive mom, and I am not sure if this is just in that room as a descriptor to indicate a difference between adoptive-moms and birth-moms. (I’ve never asked the question, but maybe I should). Honestly, I cannot imagine for the rest of my life saying I am an adoptive mom when I’m asked if we have children. I just want to say I am a mom. Selfishly, I want to be just like my mom was to me. I know I will exhibit many of the characteristics that my mom demonstrated – love, compassion, strength, unwavering commitment, and even patience from time to time. Yet, as we’ve chosen open adoption I know that I never will be the only mom my child knows. If I’m honest, this more complex relationship scares me on many levels, but I also realize this is my issue based largely in my insecurities of the unknown.
And, I do not want my child to grow up hearing they are our adopted daughter or adopted son. Just as I hated being known as the girl who’s mom and sister died in our small town, I do not want my child to be always identified as the kid who was adopted. Yes, these descriptors are accurate, but I don’t want them to be the basis of all our interactions. Instead I want, in an ideal world, to allow my child to express themselves (adoption included) how they see fit, but not predicate themselves on their adoption. It will be part of their very being, but it does not have to define them, unless they want it too.
I want us to be a family, just like everyone else. And yet, I sit here and wonder, is that even possible? Adoption makes us atypical and different, just like having two mommies/daddies also makes families different than the typical.
I want to value our difference, not be ashamed of it. I want my child(ren) to do the same. But, how do we navigate these waters appropriately? How do we be the same and yet different in ways that will help our children grow up to be respectful of their past and responsible for their futures?
I’m curious for those who have adopted children, are you just mom at home? Do you call yourself an adoptive mom or dad in some or all circumstances? What about those who were adopted, what are your thoughts?
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