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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Being a father and mother is more than giving birth to a child

I hear folks say it all the time, "Well, being a father and mother is more than just giving birth to a child" as a rationalization for excluding and dismissing birth parents from having the right to be a part of an adoptee's life.

And although this may be true--that, obviously, parenting is more than uniting sperm and egg--it's no way to respond to an adult adoptee who is trying to navigate her way through life in search, reunion, and post-reunion. (And obviously, it's no way to respond to a birth parent!)

And honestly, I'd prefer you just be more blunt with me and say what you really mean: just because your Korean mother gave birth to you doesn't mean she deserves or has the right to be your mom now. All she did was give birth to you. She didn't do anything else. 

As much as I might agree with that statement at times, this whole line of thinking completely misses the point.

I'm not trying to figure out whether my Korean mother deserves or has the "right" to be my mother. And I didn't search for my Korean mother because I was looking for a new mom. I searched for my Korean mother because she is biologically, naturally, by DNA already my mother. Yep. That's an undeniable fact.

Now, if you want to get into nuances and into what it means to really "mother" someone, fine. But that's not the point I'm trying to make here. I'm not discussing whether you think my Omma has the "right" to be in my life, because quite honestly that ain't nun-yo biz-nez.

My point is that by blood, she is my mom. My point is that, without dispute, a part of me is from her. I would not be who I am today without her. I literally would not be here if it were not for her. And yes, she did not raise me. She was not around physically to nurture me, but her influence runs through my veins and snaps in my neurons

Whether I like it or not, she has been influencing me all of my life. She has been making me who I am even without being physically present.

And even now, as she and I try to build a relationship, as troubled and conflicted as it can be, there is no doubt that I came from her, that I am her daughter. It is so evident in our personalities, in our appearances, in our tendencies.

So, yes, "mothering" and raising a child is more than giving birth to a child. But when it comes to an adoptee who wants to search or who has searched and found, this kind of thinking is irrelevant and honestly, quite ignorant, because we're not looking to find a new family to raise us or nurture us--we're looking for the family that is already ours.

The adoptee must be able to decide for herself or himself whether he or she wants to allow the birth mother or birth father to be a part of his or her life; it's already such an emotionally challenging situation in and of itself--we don't need everyone else telling us what we should think or do.

But regardless of what choice an adoptee makes, it will remain an unchangeable fact that the birth mother and birth father will always be a part of the adoptee's life, for better or for worse, simply because of that microscopic helix, DNA.

So rather than trying to interfere with an adoptee's decision or desire to learn more about his or her origins by making statements like the one above, try understanding why someone would want to know from whom he or she came.

It's really not that crazy.