Fort Worth Moms Blog contributors, Emily Y and Emma, created their families through adoption. In this post, they share insight into how they speak about and present their children’s birth mothers, not only to their immediate families, but also to those outside their four walls.
From Emily Y:
The most important women to me are not my mother, my sister, my grandmothers, my mentors. Yes, these women are paramount in my life, but the most important women to me are my children’s birth mothers–Chloe and Jackie. These two ladies made very brave choices in very hard situations. These women gave life to my babies. These women looked beyond the here and now and dared to hope for “the best” for those little ones–as any loving, selfless parent does. These women inspire me–whether they know it or not–to be the best gosh dern mama I can be.
It is very important to me . . . very important . . . to present Chloe and Jackie in a truthful light. In our discussions with our daughters, we talk truthfully about the hard parts and the loving parts of each girl’s story, each girl’s birth mother (as their age and understanding allows, I might add). This will continue and increase in detail as they age and have their own questions. Information about, the story of their birth mother helps my daughters have a sense of heritage, a sense of “where I came from.” This also honors the birth mother as having an instrumental and vital role in our lives. It lets my girls know that Chloe and Jackie are valuable.
In conversations outside our home, I am more limited in the details I provide, naturally, but I am quick to remind others of the maturity, courage, and selflessness Chloe and Jackie exhibited in choosing adoption. Amongst extended family, we mention when our family has had contact with my children’s birth parents, giving updates and so forth. This is helpful because it reminds other family members that Chloe and Jackie are part of our family story, still have active roles, and do not need to be treated as less than or non-existent.
We also honor Chloe and Jackie by incorporating mementos and such into our daily lives. For instance, my eldest daughter has a picture of Chloe in her room and often sleeps with a purple blanket–“Chloe’s blanket–given to her by Chloe. My youngest daughter also has a photo of her birth mother in her room along with a map of Italy–the dream vacation spot for Jackie. Her nursery is painted green, which is Jackie’s favorite color. We use these everyday
All of this has a trickle down effect. How my husband and I present Chloe and Jackie impacts how our girls, our family and friends, and even strangers who cross our paths . . . hopefully for the better.
At the risk of seeming a little ethereal, I find that loving and honoring my children’s birth mother starts first in how I think about her. Ultimately, I want my thoughts (which turn into words) to be sweet. And I am not talking Southern belle sugary sweet. I mean this: I want my thoughts and words about this woman — this woman who brought my child into the world and then entrusted me with raising her — to be kind, intentional, and compassionate.
With Mother’s Day on the horizon, one of the most significant ways to honor my children’s birth mother is to speak well of her to all of our family and friends; and to gently steer the conversation away from the well-intended (but a little nosey) questions like, “Why did she place him for adoption?” and “Will she have more children?”
Since these questions are frequently asked with my children present, my answers matter. Little ears are always listening. Our family has talked openly and frequently about our children’s adoptions from the day we brought them home, so it is a natural part of our life to dialogue often about their birth parents.
But even though their adoption is no secret, it doesn’t make it simple. These conversations are hard and at times painful. I have stumbled over my words when talking with my children, and am thankful that I will have many chances to re-do these conversations. It’s not all roses and rainbows. I have had moments of insecurity and disappointment in our adoption story.
Weaving her life and love into my children’s stories is a powerful way to honor her. We have a semi-open adoption, which means that our birth mother has contact with us through letters and pictures that we mail to our adoption agency, and they then share these with her. She also sends us letters and cards, which we always read outloud to our children and keep in their baby books.
Depending on how open your adoption is, I personally think sending a card or gift on Mother’s Day is very important. A friend of mine sends flower’s to her son’s birth mom on Mother’s Day. As my children grow up, I want them to see me remembering their first mother on this day.