There are few discussions that get the adoption community more stirred up- than when one person tries to tell everyone else what they believe to be the proper terms for “biological Mom” and “adoptive Mom”. Adoptive parents, biological parents, and adoptees can get very caught up in taking a firm stance on what they individually believe is the right “adoption language”….. Birth Mom, Biological Mom, Adoptive Mom, Forever Mom, Real Mom… they can even argue endlessly on whom should be called “Mom”.
And while I watch these intense debates taking place on adoption websites and blogs with a great deal of interest, I know that what is most important for me, is what each one of my children thinks at a particular point in time.
Right from the beginning, we offered some terms to our kids that we felt comfortable with, in order to have a starting place to encourage discussions about adoption. And the term we chose to describe each child’s biological Mom was “China Mom”… which we explained to be “the Mommy in China who carried you in her belly until you were born”. This allowed each of our children to ask questions regarding their “China Mom”… “Where is she?”, “I miss her- does she miss me?”, and so on.
The whole point of offering up “China Mom” was that it was simple, understandable (we watch our videos from China and talk about China all of the time), and it was just a starting point until each one became old enough to have his or her own opinion on the matter.
And this summer, one of my daughters decided that “China Mom” wasn’t cutting it for her anymore…..that her “China Mom” was her “Real Mom”…… and she decided that this meant that I was now the “Fake Mom”. And all of this she explained to me in a very matter-of-fact manner.
Now I know how much my daughter loves me, and the fact that she has decided to now think of me as her “Fake Mom” shouldn’t really matter. Except that some part of me didn’t want her to think of me as “fake”, which causes me to think of something even worse than fake….. temporary. Yet I did not want to ask her to change her mind on how she wanted to (and needed to) think about her first mother. If the term “Real Mom” felt right to her…. then it is hers to use. But I asked her if maybe we could think of another term that might better describe who I am to her. Since I am the Mommy who takes care of her, and helps her learn how to do new things, and cooks for her, and washes her clothes, and all of that other fun stuff…. what would be a good way to describe me?
And we came up with “the Mom who is helping her to grow up”… or the “Growing Up Mommy”.
Now I know that as time goes by, she may choose to toss away these terms and choose others that fit how she is feeling at that point in her life. And that is fine with me. I am just happy to be here to help her grow up….. so for now “Growing Up Mommy” suits me just fine.