Mom vs. Birth Mom

Recently while visiting with a new adoptive mom friend I noticed that she always referred to her new baby girl’s birth mom as mom. I kept noticing this and wondered how she did it. How did she say the words that are so hard for me to say?

You see, I always refer to our son’s first mom as either birth mom, first mom or by her name. I found myself asking why is it that it bothers me when someone refers to his birth mom as mom. When someone asks us if we have a relationship with his mom, it bothers me. I know whom they mean and I know what they are asking, but I want to scream YES WE KNOW HIS MOM; I AM HIS MOM. You see they are only wondering if we have an open adoption or closed. They are merely curious and I love curiosity about adoption. I love to talk about adoption and I love to educate and disprove some of the myths people have about adoption. So then why is this so hard for me?

I am a huge birth parent advocate. I believe the most ideal place for a child is with his/her birth family. When that isn’t the best situation, then that is when I think adoption should come in to play. I wish that there were more options available for parents who are struggling to raise their children. I think that a birth parent that changes their mind to parent their baby has every right to do that. They are the parents before anyone else is. I am a huge advocate of open adoptions and feel as though closed adoptions are not beneficial to anyone in the adoption triad.

I love our birth mom. I respect her and cherish her and we do have an open relationship with her. I value her more than she will ever know. She loved our son before we even began loving him. She cared for him before us. She chose to give him life and she chose us to parent him. Her reasons for placing him are her own reasons and not mine to broadcast here. She will always be a part of our lives and we have pictures of her in the boy’s room. We also talk about her and tell Little Boy about her whenever we look at the pictures.

I usually atribute my dislike of this to not wanting to confuse my boys. I never want them to be confused as to who their “real” mom is. Does this make sense, or am I just using them as a crutch to my own fear?

So, am I insecure in the thought of someone referring to her as mom too? Do I fear that I will be valued less if he hast two moms? I don’t know why this is so hard for me. When we first adopted him I would rage (not to the person, but just in my head) if someone said mom instead of birth mom. Now it doesn’t bother me, but I just can’t bring myself to say it. Is that okay?

So, any other adoptive moms out there where do you stand on this? Am I wrong? Am I insecure? Do I need to just get a grip and get over it? I can take it, tell me the truth. Is this dumb? I promise it is really not a big issue, I just need to know if I am alone on this one, or if any of you other moms deal with this.

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11 responses to “Mom vs. Birth Mom

  1. So you don’t have to post this but I was reading your blog and thought of a funny for you as the concepts of adoptions and moms and all of that comes into play….

    Dave’s parents adopted a little girl almost 5 yrs ago. She was 2 days old when they took her home. Her name is Kayleigh and her birth mom was a relative and the birth mom did heroin every day of her pregnancy and to this day is still in and out of jail. Very sad but Kayleigh has been a huge joy to all of us. Now, raising kids with your mother in law is not the funnest thing in the world but I consider it missional! :)

    Emma was down for a visit. Her and Kayleigh are great friends and my mother in law, Debbie called and told me a funny.

    Debbie, Kayleigh and Emma were all riding in the car and Kayleigh told Emma. “Emma, do you know I’m adopted?” Emma said “yes”. And Kayleigh said “do you know what adopted means?” Emma said, “no”. Kayleigh said “adopted means that you have two momies. One real mommy and one mommy that is in jail. That is what adopted means.” Debbie was floored because they have never discussed her birth mom being in jail. But I guess you can never understimate what kids know and pick up on. The situation… not funny at all but the whole concepts of adoption for Kayleigh, a priceless moment! :)

    Anyway, I don’t have any wisdom on the matter but think it’s great that you all have an open adoption. You are a great mom!
    Hope your summer is going well for you. Dave is gone most of this month. I think of all you ladies often knowing your husbands are gone just as much too!

  2. Matt and Becca

    I understand what you are feeling. I do think that talking about her as “mom” could be confusing at your boys’ ages. Mine too. In fact, Will (my oldest and bio. son) asks sometimes where Cy’s mom is. I say that I’m his mom. I know he’s talking about K, and it’s terribly confusing for him. I try to explain it to him that Cy grew in K’s tummy, and that she chose us to be his family. I don’t know… I read and read, but sometimes there are no answers to these things. We have to play it by ear and do the best we can.

  3. I go through this a little bit as well. I LOVE our son’s birthfamily and it has been so fun to develop our relationship with them – but there is still a slight awkwardness which I think is a mixture of discomfort in sharing him, and I myself have had some feelings of “guilt” that I’m the mommy and she’s not. I’ve been wondering to myself on occasion what we’ll call his birthmom and dad when he’s older. I guess that will just come with time as everything else.
    Debbie

  4. Jeremy & Heather

    as an adopted child myself … you are doing an amazing job already. My parents, or my mom rather, had a very hard issue with the fact that she didn’t birth me. She still struggles with it and sometimes I think has deceived herself into thinking she did. All that to say growing up, I was never allowed to ask questions or talk about the fact that I was adopted. It left me feeling a lot of feelings that I have had to deal with most of my life. I say this to say … you call her what you want to call her … you seem to be doing a great job at it. She gave him life but now you are the mom. My mom is my mom … did she birth me no but she’s my mom. There is a lady out there who birthed me but that’s all. Maybe one day we’ll meet and if we do she will still be only the lady who gave me the chance to have a life but never mom. YOU are the mom and have every right to feel the way you do.

  5. Thanks girls.

    I know that there is no right answer here. I do think that it also is weird because my children are younger.

    I think that someone who refers to their child’s birth parent as mom as well is awesome. Nothing wrong with that. I’m just having a hard time with it.

    And I think that is okay. I think it is fine for me to use this term when others feel more comfortable with others.

    This as a great response and thanks for commenting. I am proud that we keep in contact with our birth mom. That is priceless to me and will be to our son.

  6. Pingback: Mom vs. Birth mom ….. my journey continues « d r e a m i n g [ B I G ] d r e a m s

  7. I am actually a birth mom, and really liked reading what you wrote. I think your feelings are perfectly natural, you sound very much like my son’s adoptive mom. She has only referred to me as mom (or maybe it was mommy) once that I can remember. It was during a conversation we had on the phone and she was talking to the baby trying to get him to make a particular funny sound he makes, and she referred to me in that way talking to him. I felt very honored, but at the same time it seemed strange. It made me feel that she was very secure in her relationship with her son and that validating me as his first mother was such a gift.

    I guess what I want you to know is that referring to your birth mom as mom is just a huge gift you can give her, an honor really. She will never have the relationship you have with your child. She will never have that child to love and hold as her own. Sometimes a simple word can carry a huge amount of meaning.

  8. I’m a little late in finding this post. I was just looking for ideas for a Christmas gift for our birth mom and this post came up in my Google search. First, thanks for writing this post. I too struggle with this and go back and forth in my mind on what is the “right” way.

    I think each family is different and all decisions on openness and what you “label” things as should be based on your child’s needs and emotional health. I always refer to my son’s first mother as his birth mother. I am his mom and nothing should confuse that.

    I try to be understanding about the fact that a lot of people just don’t understand adoption and that’s why they can be so ignorant. But still it’s a little frustrating. I just do my best to educate them. When we adopted we took our family through some new vocabulary words including “birth mom” and also that she “chose adoption” she didn’t “give up” or “give away” her child.

    Maybe this is a little brash, but simply but, people who haven’t adopted can’t understand how much you are your son’s REAL mother. The way people look at us I can tell they wonder if we really love our son the same way they love their biological children. It’s okay. It’s not their fault, they just haven’t experienced it. But I’m a huge advocate of educating about adoption and part of that means calling myself my son’s mother, and his “other mother” his birth mom and nothing else. It doesn’t mean I don’t respect our birth mom. It doesn’t mean I don’t think she is the greatest example of courage and integrity I’ve ever witnessed in my life. It simply means that I am my son’s mother and he was meant to be in our family.

    It’s just as much about honoring your place as your son’s mother as it is honoring the birth mother.

    Well I don’t want to write you an entire epistle, but I’m completely with you. Thanks again for this post. I’m going to come visit again… nice to read feelings that are shared by me :)

  9. Jamie,

    I find your post enlightening. We are currently considering adoption. My husband wants to adopt a child through the foster care system because he feels those are the children in the greatest need.

    You brought up some issues I am just beginning to ponder.

    Thanks,
    Dee

  10. As an adopted daughter from an open adoption, I just met my birthmother today. I found this post while looking for a pet name to call my firstmom (so far the search has been unsuccessful)

    I am in an unusual situation in that my mother passed away when I was 20, so to me the name “Mom” really is sacred and I can’t share that with my birthmom, but calling her by her first name is also too informal now that I’ve met her.

    I have always known I was adopted. I can’t remember a day when I didn’t know. But as a young child, I also had to know that my adoptive mom was my “real” mom. Other children who didn’t understand adoption would challenge me on the point, but i feel that it’s very important that there isn’t any uncertainty.

    If anyone has any ideas on what I can call my firstmom now that I’ve started forming a relationship, please shoot me an email at cheetagirl0424 at cs.com with the subject “Birthmom Names”

    I would appreciate it!!

  11. Hey Jamie…Obviously I am a birth mom and it is a complicated emotional place for all to be in. It really depends on the level of “open” adoption you are in and thet level will probably change as your adopted kids get older and more curious and independent. I’m supposed to be in an “open” adoption with my sons adoptive family but its the lowest level (their choice) I only recieve pics and a letter one time a yr. which is better than nothin.At first I had feelings of wanting to be called “mommy” because…well hey i birthed this child and grew him in my belly for 9 LONG months and I was the first voice he heard and blah blah blah…BUT as time goes on and young people mature, I now realize that I am not “mom” because a mother is the one that is there for you everyday to do motherly things that make up your childhood memories. Now I would simply be satisfied as just being a “godmother” or great family friend or just be a part of their family at all. My son is 6 now and I have not had any indication that will happen for a loooong time…because like you, there are alot of insecurities of wanting to have that one and only “mom” tilte and bond. So when it comes down to it, trust the choices you make is best for your adopted children and their mental health in those HORMONAL REBELLIOUS teenage years and you will have nothing to worry about everything will fall into place. If you have any questions from a birthmoms point of view im hear for you. Blessings to your beautiful family and your sweet heart!!! -JOY

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