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Thursday, July 28, 2011

What Being a Daughter has Taught me About Being a Mother

As an adult adoptee, I have plenty of opportunities to view things from the position of "daughter" in my family systems.  When I'm not worried about what my parents or family members will think about an opinion I have, or taking back my original surnames, or whatever else, people are reminding me to be.  How many times have we perpetual children all been asked "what do your parents think about that?!" when we voice an adoption issue?  Or, "your mom and dad are your REAL parents" when we talk about reunion?  When I hear these questions and statements, I am taken aback for more than one reason.  Yes, they are belittling to me as an adult adoptee, especially when I am spoken to like a child regarding my adoption.  But they send up a red flag in my mind as a mother too.  Because, hey wait a minute, I wouldn't want someone talking to my kid like that!

Parenting my children is not about me.  It is about them.  It is about their rights and needs and welfare.  Why should it be any different for my parents or anyone elses for that matter--especially when being adopted is concerned?

I would be positively mortified if at every turn of one of my sons talking about something that was important to them people reminded them to think of me and my feelings.  I am here to support them, not ask them to forsake what is meaningful to them based on how I would feel about it.

I am sure people wonder how my parents feel about me re-taking my former surnames, as if what name I carry should be more about validating others than about validating who I am.  Is that really what being a parent and giving a name to a son or daughter is about?  Self validation?  I don't see it that way, not as a daughter, and not as a mom.  It is my name.  Shouldn't what I am called best describe me and how I identify?

As a mother, I would be mortified for my children to be reminded to be "grateful" to me.  While I hope my sons will grow to be courteous and respectful young men to everyone (me inclued, of course), I do not need gratitude for being their mother.  Putting them first is what I am supposed to do; why do I need an ounce of gratitude for it?

"What about the adoptive parents, they're the real parents" is still an objection to adoptee rights.  Adoptee access to their original birth certificates is not about who is more "real" than who.  It is about the right to be treated like everyone else.  Saying that adoptees should only have access to one certificate, the one with the adoptive parents' names on it because they're more "real," places the validation of parents in importance over the equality of their sons and daughters.  I am not an adoptive mother but as a mother I can tell you that my sons' best interest comes first; period.

Why don't people realize it should be the same for adoptees?

I can't help but noticed the double-standard where adoptees are asked to put aside what is important to them based on the assumption of how their parents will feel about it.  My wish for the moment is that before saying these things people would stop and think "is this how I would want someone to talk to my kid" before saying something to an adoptee about their parents.

Photo credit: Vlado


  1. Thanks, you've given this dad of bios and adopted something to think about. I want my girls to be as happy as they can be. With mutual respect, I want to believe I will be able to accept whatever my adult children throw at me. They have been doing a good job getting me ready for that time as they move through the teen years.

  2. The double-think and double standards of adoption have always astounded me!We are second class, a group of people who don't have the same rights as others and we're supposed to be happy about it?!Von

  3. Wow. Thank you for articulating this. It just gave me words to a silent voice I never had. The tape on my mouth, don't ask, don't seek, because it means you are ungrateful and these are your REAL parents. Also, the expectation that we adoptees need to be 'thankful' for the privileged to grow up in the family we did. WOW. I just understand my adoptive mother's and my relationship from a whole different perspective. It think she believed I should always be thankful for her, and thus toe the line and do everything to make her happy. I wasn't a 'bad' kid, actually the one who would try to make everyone happy. But I never felt like I had to constantly give gratitude to my parents. Now I understand why my adoptive mom had a hard time relating to me, for various reasons. But it makes sense to me today, I think she kept me at a distance because i wasn't always being in a place of gratitude for 'saving me.'


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