So... about 5:30 this morning I went to the bathroom and grabbed my Iphone ... something I often do as it is my primary form of entertainment. I have books on it even, so you get the picture.
But I happened to glance at my email and see that one of the birth moms in our lives who I have never met was asking if she could tag herself in a picture of one of my kids. That led me to realize that my child is her friend on Facebook and as you can imagine I haven't slept since.
What a great weekend for all this to happen, huh? You see, it's been an emotionally exhausting week for me. In the training I was in this week, which was very very intense, so many issues were raised. The training is to help therapists become "adoption competent" and the content is excellent. But we talked a LOT about grief and loss issues for adoptees, adoptive parents and birth parents. We talked a lot about the identity formation in children, about brain trauma and neurobiology, about race, ethnicity and culture and how it impacts adoptees. We also spent a morning discussing the Adoption Kinship Network, which is the current correct language to use replacing the "adoption triad."
So I was very much put in touch with feelings that birth parents have and the issues that surround loss for my children and for myself. So having this startling reminder, in the middle of Mother's Day weekend, was jarring...
It was most jarring because it reminded me that I am not always sensitive to birth parents when I write. I write with my intended audience being my close friends and some family as well as the adoption community. Since my children have been acquiring significant others, I have tried to be aware that those people might occasionally read my blog. But I have never paid attention to the possibility that the birth parents of my children could be reading my blog and might misunderstand my humor.
For example, if I put on my blog that my kids look just like me that is a complete joke. It's sarcasm. It's supposed to make people laugh. I am homely at best and my children are BEAUTIFUL. They obviously have gorgeous birth parents who past on wonderful genes to them. But would a birth parent reading my blog pick up on that sarcasm?
So I thought, in case the birth parents of my children are out there, that I would mention a few things I may not have blogged that might indicate that I'm not nearly as insensitive as it may appear.
Bart and I often mention to our children how fortunate they are to have had attractive birth parents. Most of the kids that we have we have seen pictures of their birth family members, so we can say, "Wow, you have eyes just like your birth dad. Or your smile is SO much like your birth moms" These conversations happen around here often.
And in case I've never mentioned it, on Mother's Day we pray for the birth moms of each of our children, out loud, by name if we know their names. We recognize that our children are thinking about them and we acknowledge that it is OK.
We are grateful to the birth parents of our children. We know that they are important to our children and we work hard to navigate the bests ways for them to have contact with them in ways that cause our children the least amount of stress and the most amount of emotional growth.
Bart has blogged some very emotional and I think sensitive blog posts about birth parents including on he wrote on Tony's twelfth birthday and a beautiful letter to Salinda's birth mom on the day Salinda's daughter Gabby was born. We have done our best to be respectful, honest, and verbally supportive of birth parents to our children.
But this morning I was a bit off guard and not sure how to respond. I think I made the right choice. I didn't allow her to tag herself on the photo of her child, but I did make a comment that the child looked just like birth family and was thus beautiful.
It will be a difficult weekend here. We are in the process of concluding that one of our sons will not be able to return home after his stay in jail because of the many things he stole from us before he left. We have one of our daughters and her bf and child here with us for the weekend and she is not at all happy with us at the moment which is really confusing. She doesn't really speak to us for months, then suggests they want to stop by for a day, stay for 9 and counting, and then complain about how bad we are while they are here.
Mother's Day is the one day of the year that I think is most difficult for our children. But this year I'm finding it is also difficult for me in a more real way. Because I'm recognizing that even though I have claimed twelve children, many of them difficult, and done my best to provide for them daily and navigate the complicated world they create for themselves, they still blame me at the end and use words to hurt me like "you're not really my mom."
But the other layer of sadness is that there a whole lot of people in this world who would join with them in making the statement that I am not their real mom and it makes me wonder what that makes me.
So my advice to you is this. If you are an adoptive parent who would like to sleep in on a Saturday, don't take your Iphone to the bathroom. Especially on Mother's Day weekend. It's really not a smart move.