On Adoptive Parenting: A Mother Gets It Right the Second Time Around
After I got done reeling from reading those dozens of extremely critical comments at the bottom of my blog post Adoptive Families are Real Families: A Note from a Mom, I began to think that maybe I hadn’t handled the situation with my son as well as I could have. In case, you didn’t read the post, which was published at Psych Central in February of 2020, what happened was my adopted son said that his “real” mother had given him away. This had hurt me. After all, I wanted to be considered “real.” My husband and I had brought him home when he was three-months-old; we’d been through a lot together (to say the least.) So I asked him if he could use the words “birth mother” to describe her. He said he would.
But the comments from psychcentral.com readers suggested that I had negated my son’s feelings and by trying to enforce the language he used, I was potentially harming him. One reader had even said my son was going to need a lot of therapy because of how I reacted to his honest statement. So I decided to talk to him to try to set the situation right.
“Remember when I said that I wanted you to call your biological mother your birth mother?”
“Yes,” he said.
“Well, I was wrong. You can call her whatever you want. If you want to call her your real mother, that’s fine with me.”
“O.K.” He seemed relieved. He was smiling from ear to ear.
“I don’t care what you call me. You can just call me your… other mother.”
My son said: “I’ll call you my other real mother.”
His generosity made me smile as well. In fact, I almost started to cry. What a kid!
The upshot of this conversation is that my son and I are communicating much easier and feeling much closer to each other than before. By validating his feelings, we’re both happier. We’re feeling deeper love for each other, and we both feel more “real.”
And I don’t think any of this would have happened if I hadn’t received such push-back from readers about what I’d said.
Parenting is sometimes trial by error. It has always been that way. What’s different is that now we have social media where total strangers can weigh in on someone’s statements and/or actions very quickly. I’ve never had such an uprising of dissent from my readership on any topic I’ve written on before. I suppose it was bound to happen.
So I want to thank you for your honesty and zeal in sending me the message that I could have handled the situation better.
At the moment, I am my son’s “other real mother.”
Kids do just want to be heard.
Yeager, L. (2020). On Adoptive Parenting: A Mother Gets It Right the Second Time Around. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 30, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/on-adoptive-parenting-a-mother-gets-it-right-the-second-time-around/