Thursday, January 14, 2010

Why we don't call her Mommy.

I'm rather surprised to find out I'm being linked in several different places with folks debating the word "Mommy"
I've thought about posting my thoughts elsewhere, but it got very wordy and turned into this post. So here I go...

If your choice of words is Mommy and Daddy for the birth parents than fabulous, it isn't our choice. I'm sure I will use other terms when Eme is of age to start talking about these things. If she makes the. choice to acknowledge the Mother & Father that gave her life as China Mommy & Daddy then that's what we'll go with. Because we chose to refer to them as her birth parents does not make me insecure & fearful. It isn't me denying my daughter of her first Mother, it doesn't mean that I am missing out on a deeper level of connection with my simply means that we are giving them the names that are true and accurate.

They gave her birth, they chose life for her, but it is not them whom she is referring to when she shouts, "Mommy, molk (milk) please?" When she lays in bed and yells, "MOMMMMY." It isn't them she is calling out for. When she comes running to hug me while saying, "Mommy, Up." I am her Mommy. It is my hand she holds while she drifts off to sleep. I am meeting her daily needs, not her birth Mother. The term Mommy and Daddy is an endearing term that is earned, not given. Like the old quote says, "Anyone can be a Father, but it takes someone special to be a Daddy."

To the blog reader InMySeoul who left the comment on the last post talking about this, I have responded to your comment under the comment section, but I was shocked to see that you actually carried yourself to several other places and made this statement directed to me...
"Who gives these women the right to tell their adopted children that they are the only person to be called "Mom"??? Who made them God and and Webster to decide to change the definition all of a sudden? IF anything, the birth Mother should keep her title of "Mom" and the AP should be the non-"Mommy" word...whatever they use..." Your words. Not mine.

This has to be the silliest thing I've ever read and quite frankly, made me realize that you are not a Mom and yet you spew your thoughts with such anger, for what reason I wonder? Because you are an adoptee really does not mean you harbor all the great insight for transracial adoptees.

Would you suggest that my 3 boys call me "Mommy" and Eme refer to me as her "Birth Mom"...? or "Non Mommy" or "Not so close Mommy"'ve lost your God loving mind.
I can't even address the stupidity of that statement. It's obvious that you have issues to deal with.

My biological grandfather abandoned my Mom when she was a baby, thus abandoning me. I had the opportunity to meet him about 15 years ago and would have never given him the title of "grandpa" or "papaw"
I had 2 fabulous grandpa's that filled the void of where he could have been. He did not earn the title of "papaw" or "grandpa", he chose to NOT be in the picture for the child rearing years.

He was a perfectly nice man that I was happy to meet, but certainly not my "Papaw".
It was nice to see where my brother got his height and where my Mom got her blue eyes and blond hair from, but the title of such an intimate word did not go to him. I called him by his first name until the day he died & when he died, I felt nothing and I didn't attend his funeral, nor did my Mother. I really didn't care, because there was no relationship there. I never heard my Mom refer to him as her 'Daddy', ever.
I stand behind my last post that has been linked all over blog world. The only shocking thing to me was that it is the AP community that has a problem with me not using the term 'Mommy' to give Eme's birth Mother. I really kind of thought the issue would be with the G0tcha Day party not taking place in our home year after year. I guess some things can still surprise me.
And because biology is the least of what makes me Eme's Mommy, here is her cute Christmas pic that we just picked up.


Diana said...

OMG...I have not read the comments from the other post but I could not agree more with you. I am my sons Mom/Mommy. They have Birthparents in Korea. A MOM is a person who sits up with them at night, wipes their tears, cleans up poop and puke. I thank GOD daily that their birthparents made the choice they did but I am the Mom/Mommy.

Anonymous said...

Omgsh! I can not beleive that people think that they have the right to tell anyone else how to parent thier kids. I totally agree with you. I have two wonderful kids adopted from China and I am thier MOM. My dad raised my older sister since the day he married my mom. Her biological father was still though. So in my family it went like this... My dad the man who wiped her tears, held her hand and taught her how to be a good peson was her DADDY. Her biological dad was that her dadfather. She is now 50 yrs old and still call my dad her daddy. My daughter is 6 yrs old and we refer to her biological mom and just that her MOTHER. I am her MOMMY. I agree with you, you are her MOMMY!!!!

Pug Mama said...

oh my. I have been gone A LONG TIME and have much to catch up on.
My daughter's birth parents are just that - her BIRTH PARENTS. I will never refer to them as Mommy and Daddy.
She has a set of BIRTH PARENTS in China.
She LIVES with her mommy and daddy here.
Her BIRTH PARENTS gave her life.
Her mommy and daddy LIVE her life along side of her.
How dare anyone say what I should call birth parents to MY child. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but don't preach how someone should raise their child. My daughter will always know that mommy is here forever. I will die for her, I will kill for her.
Her birth mother loved her enough to give her life.
Now her mommy will raise that life until the day I die.
The gratitude I have for my child's BIRTH MOTHER is immeasurable. I am not denouncing her importance in my daughter's story. She will know her story. She will know it started with a birth mother, she was loved by a foster mother (her photo hangs in my daughter's room) and ended with a MOMMY.
That is her story. And it is up to ME - as her mommy - to tell it to her. Me and me alone. Don't tell me what "titles" to use in her story - the important thing is that I AM TELLING HER HER STORY with all the information I have gathered - I am telling her her story.

Pug Mama said...

jeez - the more I think about it - you would think you wrote ----I refer to her birth parents as "those people"
I mean really now. You caused all this ruckus over blogland because you stated YOU are mommy and her birth parents are BIRTH PARENTS.
Good God people. Get yourselves all worked up over something A LITTLE MORE IMPORTANT.

Pug Mama said...

ok - I am boarding on stalker now, but I meant to say how BEAUTIFUL Eme looks. We miss her! Low is still her BIGGEST fan!

A Beautiful Mess said...

Yep...I am Mommy and Chris is Daddy and Hannah is "my Hannah" and Ben is "my Ben". This is how Sophie calls to the people who love and care for her on a daily basis.

I am forever grateful to her birth parents for choosing life for Sophie...things could have gone a lot differently. They are her birth parents. I am not insecure, worried or threatened by them....they are her birth parents...not her mommy and daddy.

Two Kayaks said...

I think you said it best when you stated, "The term Mommy and Daddy is an endearing term that is earned, not given." You are dead right and after reading through what you have written here and in your previous post, I cannot agree with you more.
You have a deliciously beautiful family!

Debbie said...

Oh my stars!!! People and their opinions!!! You have every right to call Eme's birth parents what ever you choose and you have ALL the rights to parent her the way you see fit!!! If that means no "Gotcha Day" "Forever Family" or "Adoption Day" that is your family's decision and no one else has the right to interject their opinion!!! Thanks for sharing your heart and giving some of us something to mull over. Her picture is just PRECIOUS!!!! She is a sweet girl with a very sweet mom and a wonderful family who loves her to the moon and beyond and those who have followed your journey know your heart, those who stop by from time to time or just stumbled upon the blog cannot in any way know your heart!!!

Glinda said...

T Said: "My daughter only has 1 Mommy, that's me. We honor her birth Mother, but she is not Eme's Mommy. It's obvious that Eme had another Mother before me, but to give the title of 'Mommy' to the unknown lady on the other side of the world would confuse any child."

I am with you 100%

nerdgirl said...

What happens in your family is your business. Why the heck is that person reading your blog anyway? Just to be negative and spew hate? You and your husband are Eme's Mommy and Daddy. Case closed. I never met my birth father. You can damn well believe if we met tomorrow I would not address him as "daddy."

osolomama said...

I am one of the people who linked to one of the posts on this topic. The reason I decided to write about it and not just comment is that thinking of my daughter's parents as real parents just like me—missing family that we would love to find—has helped me be more secure, more confident in my parenting than I would be otherwise. Language is so powerful. Referring ad nauseum to "a birthparent" in my mind reinforces something I must keep pointing out about my role in Simone's life. Am I important? Whose role is more important? Who's the parent here? On the contrary, when I started to acknowledge fully that her parents in China earned the right to be called parents long before an adoption plan even hatched in my head—that they are parents by virtue of being family together, people tied together by history and genetics—the whole thing opened up for me and we could just be who we are. As soon as we started batting the words around, me referring to "your mom" and realizing there was no confusion, it was obvious as well that there was a comfort level there on my daughter's part.

I guess I just do not see the point in constantly drawing this distinction. The fact that my daughter's parents are on the "other side of the world" is not the issue. Where do we think our kids came from? What is the purpose of taking them back to China if not to let them understand they have roots there, not just in the abstract but in every sense. Do we really think our children's mothers in China are "unknown ladies" to them? Even if they don't talk about them openly, my instincts say no.

I hope I haven't offended or upset anyone with this post.

Bethany said...

I just found your blog by pure accident and was totally appalled by such an ignorant comment someone made to you! OMG! My daughter (yes, I said my daughter) who is adopted from Guatemala calls us Mommy and Daddy. We ARE just that! We are the only ones she will ever know. She has a birth mother but that's just it. She gave birth to MY daughter, who calls me MOMMY. The person who is writing about you obviously doesn't have children. BTW, your daughter (and sons) are just beautiful!

I'm Adopted and I'm Adopting said...

Total blog stalker here, I have been reading your story for awhile (since we are fellow Buckeye fans who worship at the 'shoe every football lovin' Saturday).

I applaud you for standing firm in your convictions as a mother.

I, myself, am adopted and have never once called my birth father daddy - it belongs to the man who raised me!

I just wanted to let you know that not all adult adoptees in the world share that one negative poster's opinion.

There are those of us who applaude mothers like you!

I am so sorry that others feel like they can tell you how to parent your child.

Just like each person's biological children are different, so is each adoption journey and story.

You are doing great - don't let anyone beat you down with stupidity. :)

Mei Ling said...

"He did not earn the title of "papaw" or "grandpa", he chose to NOT be in the picture for the child rearing years."

Was he backed into a situation where he had the absolute choice to be grandpa or not to be grandpa?

Because I'm willing to bet that whatever circumstance your daughter's birth mother found herself in, it wasn't by *choice.*

"I am not denouncing her importance in my daughter's story."

But isn't that the very way Of denouncing it? By defining her by the label of the prefix "birth"?

My neighbour next door is raising her biologically-related children. She gave birth to them. So, by biology's definition, she is a "birth-mom" too. Do you see what I mean when I say the prefix is designed to define a woman by the act of giving birth and then abandoning (to be found) that child?

On another note, I'm surprised that InMySeoul made that comment. Clearly his level of thinking has changed over the months...

Mei Ling said...

P.S. Honestly your post doesn't bother me that much (although you might disagree since I took the time to comment :P), and I'm well aware that of your stand on this matter.

I'm just putting my 2 cents out there for any others that may be lurking (eg. my neighbour statement). I like to make people think.

t~ said...

I have enjoyed your writings and perspective on many different things. I respect your thoughts on this, but I am just not going to make that leap for my daughter to feel all intimite and cozy with the terminology of another Mommy & Daddy that she will most likely never have the opportunity to meet. I can think of nothing more beautiful than for that to happen, but the reality of how China works is the reality.

Having been foster parents for several years gave me the opportunity to be called lots of different things depending on the age & comfort of that child. We always let them choose and I can tell you that they didn't always feel comfortable to call their birth parents Mom & Dad because they felt it was to intimate as well for someone that never raised them. I certainly wouldn't make that leap for her, many adoptees would not be comfortable with it. If Eme chooses to call them her Mommy and Daddy then we'll follow her lead. This is her life and her story to get all cozy with, not mine to use as a tool to become more confident in my parenting.

I wasn't offended and I hope you are not either=0)

t~ said...

Mei Ling,
Abandonement is a choice. He didn't earn the title of 'Papaw' simply because he wasn't there, in the flesh, being a grandpa to me.

By giving her birth Mother her rightful title, we are being honest and accurate, not making a leap into the endearing terms of Mommy & Daddy that my daughter may not feel comfortable with and certainly not denouncing her rightful position in my daughter's life.

In my eyes & in most of the Mom's I know, Mommy is the person that wipes your tears away, cleans your pants out when you have an accident, does your laundry, gives your clean sheets to sleep in, provides the food that nourishes your body, sits with you at all your doctor visits, meets with your teacher when you've been naughty, looks for ways to help you, stays up at night worrying about you, buys your clothes, food and fancy new shoes to go with the fancy new outfit, shelters you from the storms, prays with you, listens to you and loves you day in and day out, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the rest of life. There is no prefix for the woman or man that does these things & much more for their children.
Mommy is a title that is earned, not given and though you gave me food for thought, I stand behind my position=0)

Anonymous said...

I enjoy reading your blog and it saddens me to think that people actually have the nerve to leave some of the comments that they do. If they do not agree with something you are posting on YOUR blog then they should just leave the blog and not read it. There is no reason to leave nasty or hurtful comments to someone that they do not know....just leave.

Wanda said...

I'm just gob-smacked that this is even something that should be questioned (other than the right of freedom of speech).

Of course, Mommy and Daddy is a term exclusively for The Mommy and Daddy. Period. And Birth Parent is exclusively for those who provided the lineage and DNA.


Tawni said...

Eme is beautiful...most important thing first :0)

I stand behind you sista...bravo! *applaud*

~ Alison n' Mali~ said...

& Mommy is the one who stands by when your little heart has been hurt & traumatized by the events of your past . . .

Despite all my positive 'plugs', Mali's anxiety level (which is already high) rises at the mere mention of China. In her mind, her 'Mommy' is ME. & if I ever suggested we call her birth mom 'Mommy' (not that I ever would), she'd probably have a nervous breakdown. I just don't get that concept.

& if M feels differently when she grows old enough to better understand the situation, fabulous. I'll still be here supporting her & respecting her personal feelings.

Diane said...

First, InMySeoul has been a great friend to me and my children. His reaction was prompted by my own blog post, and my asking of him to chime in with his thoughts, and he was moved to share here. I have never sensed a malicious bone in him and I have always welcomed his perspective- not as an 'adoptee representative' but just as he is and who he is.

A lovely woman & lovely writer, Terra Trevor, wrote a memoir- Pushing Up The Sky. In it, she describes a visit from her 27 year old daughter adopted from Korea-

“When my other kids come home to visit, they spill the contents of their pockets onto the floor, leave a trail of gas receipts and sales slips on the counter, a residue, an update, journalizing their lives. But she keeps everything inside her suitcase, locked tight beside her vulnerability. I don’t know anything about her except the things she chose to tell me. All of a sudden I wish that something of hers remained unwashed. And then I see the pillow, and rumpled blankets on the bed. I bury my face in the sheets, inhale the scent of her perfume, deodorant and perspiration. She is my daughter, and I am her mother, yet in some ways we are still just starting out.”

This passage reminds me deeply of my blessings- how big and great and cherished they are. I have the daily privilege, the incredible gift, of being able to smell my girls- taste their tears-linger in their embraces.

If my daughters’ first mothers were crowned ‘Queen of Mommy Land’ or ‘Princess of The Most Beautiful Mommy Ever’ then I would cheer by their parade as they float by adorned in Mommy crowns. I am the mother that I am because of their choosing life for my girls. I humbly surrender any title to them -whose features and talents, skin and blood, breathe life into my girls.

In the end- my daughters’ mothers would hear the applause of her child watching her float by- but theirr children would remain on the side lines pressed into me. Semantics fly out the window.

You have clarified that you were specifically referring to the term ‘Mommmy” which was not initially clear. Most definitely it was not clear to a few of your commenters who interpreted your thoughts as I did- the nod of acceptance in the justified refusal to ever acknowledge another Mother...

“I agree with you and would never think of saying our daughter has two mothers - she only has one. And one father also.”

InMySeoul said...

Hey Mei Ling,
Long my "level of thinking" hasn't changed. I'm still the thankful I was adopted, brainwashed, happy adoptee living blissfully in my ignorant took a rest from "fighting" the "anti-adoption" movement...LOL.

The entire quote that you reference and discuss here, that I wrote on Diane's Blog, was a response to Diane's post. If you read Diane's post, it was primarily about another blog and not yours. Your blog is linked, but there is another blog who is quoted several times. The topic was the vocabulary of an adoptee in regards to their birth mother. And yes, it did upset/anger me because it is just outright frustrating. The other blogger states that: "We tell them that they grew inside the China Lady's tummy". It appalled me that the author would not even acknowledge the birth mother with any type of paternal title.

I don't disagree with you about your grandpa. However, he is your grandpa, biologically speaking, and is not something that can be changed. What you decide to call him is your choice and I totally agree with you. However there is a huge difference between your situation and your daughter's situation. You and your mother, exercised your right to or not to call your grandfather by any terms of endearment based on your own view of your grandfather. What I was trying to point out in your post, and admittedly upset by, is that it appears to me that you have stricken the possibility (in future) of Eme ever using the term of endearment "Mommy" when talking about her birth mother.

The thing to ponder is in 15 years, will Eme still refer to you as "Mommy"? I doubt it, it will probably transform into "mom" or "mother". Then what? Does the philosophy change to: "My daughter only has 1 Mom" or "My daughter has only 1 Mother"? It may be easy to say that she will be older and more mature at that point, but the underlying psychology that has been laid by the foundation that your title is only reserved for you could be very detrimental to her later in life when she does start thinking about her birth mother.

Isabella's Mommy and Daddy said...

You go girly...
Mommy is exactly what you have earned..
Love how people want to nose thier way in..
If they don't like it they should just move on ..
Have a great weekend...
LOVE the photo of Eme...

InMySeoul said...

"Someone who puts my welfare before herself...even if it means to give up for adoption...."

- My definition of "Mommy"

Im not saying that is what happened to me, nor am I saying that is what happened to your daughter, or any other adoptee....but it is a possibility. Imagine what it would take and how you would feel if you had to give up a child for adoption? Now if that happened...does that make for grounds of striping you of your title of "Mommy"? I think you will whole-heartedly agree that deciding to give up for adoption is much tougher than all of the things under your definition of "Mommy".

Your right, I am not a parent. But it greatly saddens me that there are adoptive parents out there that automatically assume birth-parents are just DNA machines and automatically lose their right to be deemed "Mommy" or "Mom" without a prefix.

It is nice that you have been blessed to be able to afford all the things that are required to "earn" the title of "Mommy". Sadly, not every female parent can afford clean sheets, nourishing food, doctor visits, fancy shoes, or fancy outfits, hence never "earning" their title of "Mommy"...Obviously I'm over exaggerating, but I hope you can see what I am getting at...

Debbie said...

oh my goodness .. i have missed so much being locked up here in the hospital room. jeepers some people need to chill out & move on to another blog.

it's a one-mommy-world for me!

i love the picture of emerson!!! she is such a pumpkin .. her sweet face made me so happy tonight!

t~ said...

Your Words: "You have clarified that you were specifically referring to the term ‘Mommmy” which was not initially clear. Most definitely it was not clear to a few of your commenters who interpreted your thoughts as I did-the nod of acceptance in the justified refusal to ever acknowledge another Mother..."

My words: "My daughter only has 1 Mommy, that's me. We honor her birth Mother, but she is not Eme's Mommy. It's obvious that Eme had another Mother before me, but to give the title of 'Mommy' to the unknown lady on the other side of the world would confuse any child."

Considering the post was about Gotcha Day, the one & only paragraph above that spoke on the terminology of Mom, Mother, birth Mother was taken out of context and played out in a really wrong way on your blog. The original post was not about who's Eme's Mommy, it was about us not celebrating Gotcha Day, your post was all about the 2 Mommies, thus plucking out one line in my post to stand on.

Thanks for your comment and for clarifying. & you do have a beautiful blog if I do say so myself.

t~ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
t~ said...

Of course I took it as directed to me and Donna, who the post was about. You stated, "Who gives these women" and you stated, "I've finally gotten around to reading the post and even left a comment on "Just my 2 cents on adoption"...I was so worked up that here I am at 1 AM on a work day writing this! I tried to remain civil in the other blogs, but here I will vent!"

A little farther down you seperated us when you stated, "As for Donna's blog..."

Dawn and Dale said...

Hey T!

This has "sort of" been on my mind lately as we start the tread into an open adoption with C6 and her birth family! ;o) She will always know who they are and we'll be having visits with them lot's as she grows. Right now......I've been trying to figure out what we are going to call them to her! (I need to figure it out soon as they send her gifts, we have pictures etc. and we want to use those names when we talk to her about them!!) I'm struggling cause for some reason calling them by just their first names doesn't feel right to me...yet "daddy bob" for example doesn't eaither!! I need some good suggestions to use!! lol

Thanks for the post!!

Mei Ling said...

"Abandonement is a choice"

In your grandpa's situation? If he *chose* not to be there - if he denied contact, if he deliberately *chose* not to be a part of the family and cut himself off, then no, he isn't a grandpa.

But is that type of situation really comparable to the woman in China who birthed your daughter?

She's not the one who feeds and clothes your child. She's not the one who provides the meal every night, who exchanges hugs & kisses at night. She won't be attending the school milestones and recreational activities. And yes, I can see how in your perspective that does not make her "mom" or "mommy."

But what I am trying to convey is that it is also not necessarily her choice to be "excluded" from those things. She didn't set her child down and say to herself "I NEVER want to see my child grow up. I NEVER want to be a part of her life."

She did it because she had no other choice and because she obviously cared about her little girl. That doesn't mean she wanted to miss out on all the coming milestones. It means she wasn't there for them, yes. But that does not indicate she "chose" not to be a part of them. Why do I say that?

Because abandonment in a non-democratic rural area regulated by a government that charges impossible fees simply based on the gender of a baby is not a choice.

Abandonment in those situations is not a choice. Having to set down your child because your home will be confiscated or you will end up in jail for a life sentence or pay $10,000 USD for a female birth is not a choice.

It is desperation.

A Beautiful Mess said...

If I thought that calling my daughters birth mother "mommy" would erase the POSSIBLE issues and pain that she MAY experience having been abandoned at birth I would do it in a heartbeat!!

But this is semantics isn't it?? The title is just that a title. I agree that mommy is a term of endearment and indicates an intimacy that "mother" does you know anyone who refers to their mother as "mother"?? Seems a little formal to me...and I suppose that is the purpose of reserving mommy for the person who loves and cared for you on a daily basis. Drawing the distinction between birth mother, China mother, first mother etc. allows for some formality. It is difficult to have for someone to be endeared to another when there is no contact. If you have a first mommy in China and a foster mommy and a second/third mommy now...good gosh how many more mommy's are there???

By referring to my daughters birth mother as birth mother I am not inhibiting our relationship or discussion of the POSSIBLE fears, experiences of loss, or questions. Using the term birth mother can't do overall lack of empathy and openness does that.

"One Mother gave you life...the other taught you to live it..."

Wonder who the mommy is..

Debra said...

I guess I'll blow several peoples minds with my post, but here goes:
It is my belief that our lives are pre-destined by God. Our lives have already been written. With that being said, I teach my children that yes, they were born in China from another woman's body, but that we were destined by God to be a family.
There is no mention of Birth Mothers, China Mothers or the sort. It is how we became a family.
To my children, to the world, and most importantly to God, I am their Mama.
Of course I could go into detail of the above to try to get everyone to see things as I believe, but I'm just not interested in doing that.
I think we all do the best that we can, at least I hope we all do.

Mei Ling said...

"By referring to my daughters birth mother as birth mother I am not inhibiting our relationship or discussion of the POSSIBLE fears, experiences of loss, or questions."

What would you say or do if your daughter started calling her "China mommy" or "my other mommy/mother" in later years?

Mei Ling said...

Debra - if it was meant to be, then why didn't God put your daughter in your tummy?

Why have her birthed from another woman in China just to be adopted?

Mei Ling said...

P.S. "then why didn't God put your daughter in your tummy?"

I just realized how that could have been interpreted. Oops. I'm not questioning your love for your child, and I just realized it could have come across in that manner - I'm simply asking why she was not put into your tummy.

Debra said...

That was God's decision, not mine. I think it is wonderful that my daughters were born in China. What an incredible, beautiful and historic country. As I said before, He predistined our lives, not me. He decided that they would be born from another. My body was/is perfectly capable of bringing a life into being, but that is not how it unfolded. I really don't mean to sound so serene, if you will, about all of this. I know that these issues are very personal and important.

Debra said...

Oh Mei Ling,
Why does it matter? I am more offended by your suggestion that being adopted is somehow less than not.

Mei Ling said...

Because it doesn't make sense that God would have her birth-mother birth her only to have her be adopted.

"I am more offended by your suggestion that being adopted is somehow less than not."

I do not question the love that an adoptive parent has for their child. Really. I don't. I was raised by a mother who had her biological son, and I was never treated as less than.

"That was God's decision, not mine."

The reason why I was asking is because this doesn't make sense.

People (the gov't) make choices which force others (birth-mothers) into desperate situations. The consequential result is adoption... which is how your family was created.

I'm not bashing your family, Debra. I'm trying to explain.

Michal said...

Well T, this is certainly a hornet's nest of opinions isn't it. I am constantly amazed at the people out there who think that just because they have a simlarity in a life experience that it makes them an expert on every thing. I am blown back by how some people elevate themsleves to be the "spokesperson" for all adoptees.
Let's be real. The fact is that our jobs as Mothers, Mamas and Mommies is to first make our children feel loved and secure. How in the blazing hell could a CHILD wrap their minds around this nonsense? Of course the person that holds the child and rocks the child and sees the child through every step is the Mommy. The big Kahuna.
What silliness to suggest otherwise.
I once told my husband that I loved him dearly but did not marry him to be the mother of his children. I married him to be with him. I did not adopt my daughter to spend every single blessed moment of my life going on and on about her "birth parents". I brought my daughter into my life to raise her, to love her, to be a mother to her. That's it. That's what I am. To suggest that just because the woman who gave birth to her had a heartbreaking no choice-choice and that it was awful and terrible and then, that means that I should deliberately play second fiddle? What would that ever teach my daughter. My daughter has suffered loss. I will not, and can not, put her birth parents on the same emotional level as myself and my husband because that would imply that maybe someday we could to be relegated to the ranks of people that were once there and had love for her.
No way.
Trust me. We have plenty of respect and sadness for her birth parents. But they came before. We are here now. I can not invalidate my life with my children by always looking back and placing that time over this time.
I may sound a little rough here but hell, these people are kooky. I mean honestly.
Also T, I know that you get this. I read your blog. I know what an awesome, speak it like it is kind of gal that you are. I am RIGHT there with you on this.
Mommy is earned. I heard that.

A Beautiful Mess said...

Mei Ling...the relationship between adoptive parent and child provides the safety to discuss fears...

If Sophie chose to refer to her birth mother as mommy or my birth mommy that would be her choice and I would support whatever term she long as it was nice.

InMySeoul said...

Why does conventional wisdom say that you can only have 1 and that there has to be a distinct differentiation between the two mothers? More than likely "normal" society, which is non-adopted, says its different, wierd, not-normal, or confusing?

I was never coached on what to call my birth mother (I am only using that reference here for your clarity) by my parents. My parents used the same words for my birth mother as they did to describe themselves. There was no need to use a prefix or different terms because the context of the discussions pretty much made it clear who we were talking about.

I am always leary of when people say "it's just semantics". While it may seem innocent enough, the end result is the de-personification your child's birth parents, thus potentially negatively impacting any potential relationship between your child and them in the future. One of my favorite books of all time is 1984, written by George Orwell, where he writes about the danger of semantics/rhetoric by creating a new language called Newspeak. The Wiki article states that: "The underlying theory of Newspeak is that if something can't be said, then it is hugely more difficult to think it." So while it may seem innocent to remove maternalistic references from the birth parents, it can have an impact.

osolomama said...

Just to make it clear that I didn't pursue more openness in talking about Simone's parents as a way to improve my parenting comfort level; it was simply an unexpected by-product.

Colleen said...

I'm gonna put my .02 cents out here.

I am Mommy to Hannah, and will forever be her Mommy. Her BIRTH MOTHER is in China, and we will always acknowledge her, and she will always have a place in Hannah's heart and in mine. But she is not her "Mommy", "Mom", "Mother"... honestly I am so pissed off by what I am reading here, I can't almost think clear. I don't know T, how you've put your words down so beautifully having this all directed at you.

Some people just don't have anything better to do.

This is one of the reasons I got out of blogging.

T - I think its time to change your site or something. You don't need this shit.

You know I am RIGHT THERE WITH YOU on all of this.


InMySeoul said...

I will play the "devil's advocate" and lets turn the tables and see how opinions change? Bear with me.

Lets say you and your husband get divorced and he "wins" the young children in a custody battle. He remarries and has a new wife in his life who is helping to raise your children. She does everything you list; comforts your child when they cry, puts a band-aids, makes them food, does their laundry, in essence everything you are doing as an Adoptive Parent.

Has that step-mother "earned" her right to be called "Mommy" or other terms of endearment by your child? (Sure!, and if "No" then explain why the difference)

Does that make you any less of a "Mommy" because you aren't there to do those things? (NO!)

Lastly, how would you react or feel if the "step-mom" referred to you as birth-mother or "American Lady who had you in her belly"; and when talking to your children about you (With the train of thought that when they are old enough they can decide what to call you)?

Anonymous said...

Well, shoot. I've always referred to our kid's mother as just that, his mother. He calls me 'mom'. I never asked him to do that and I'm not going to tell him stop. He wouldn't listen anyway.

t~ said...

Mei Ling,
Your words: "But what I am trying to convey is that it is also not necessarily her choice to be "excluded" from those things. She didn't set her child down and say to herself "I NEVER want to see my child grow up. I NEVER want to be a part of her life."

She did it because she had no other choice and because she obviously cared about her little girl. That doesn't mean she wanted to miss out on all the coming milestones. It means she wasn't there for them, yes. But that does not indicate she "chose" not to be a part of them. Why do I say that?

Because abandonment in a non-democratic rural area regulated by a government that charges impossible fees simply based on the gender of a baby is not a choice.

Abandonment in those situations is not a choice. Having to set down your child because your home will be confiscated or you will end up in jail for a life sentence or pay $10,000 USD for a female birth is not a choice.

It is desperation....."

We can go round and round all day long about why my daughter was abandoned. We can say she didn't have a choice, we can say her back was up against a wall, we can call it a desperate act that she had to make or we can face the facts and say that we just don't know. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding my daughter being left in front of a building on a cold March day, the decision was made/the choice that somebody made. Life is full of choices and not all of them are choices that we necessarily want to make, but we plan on sticking to the facts and not painting a picture that may or may not be my daughters truth. And unless you know who birthed and abandoned Wan Hu Ling on that March day, please don't try to provide me with a set of reasons of why she had no choice to leave her and why I should base the focus of her life on a woman that she will never know. I can't take away my daughter's pain of that traumatic event, but I can help her explore her feelings on how she wants to handle it. Let's not place all birth Mothers on this golden pedastal that had to make that decision to give their babies up.

Mei Ling said...

It's not a pedestal.

Marie said...

You go, girl!!

There is waaaaay too much PC garbage about the correct way to refer to the women who gave birth to our adopted children. We respect them, we call them birth mother and father, as they are in fact our children's birth parents. But "Mommy" and "Daddy" are terms of affection. How can our children have affection for people they've never really met, or don't remember? My children from China are 19, 14 and 8; none of them has EVER referred to their Chinese parents as "Mommy."

t~ said...

InMySeoul, you can play devil's advocate all you want, but now you've spun the tables to a completely different issue. Eme's birth Mother is never going to be 'in the flesh' for her to be mothered by her.

& like I've said no less than a dozen times, if she decides to refer to her birth Mother as anything other than that, then we will follow her lead, but I think you are walking a slippery slope when you make the decision for your daughter to use 'terms of endearment' for a woman that she will never know and let's not forget about the birth father in this...she may never feel the warm fuzzies for her birth parents that you seem to think she should.

a Tonggu Momma said...

What I find so interesting in all of this is that the more people talk, the more I understand the different viewpoints. That's not to say that I agree with everything I've read (whether it be in the posts written by various bloggers or the many comments), but I definitely understand where everyone is coming from, regardless of their viewpoints.

The Tongginator has been verbal about this topic from a young age, so I actually never really picked a term to use - she did. We call her first parents her "China mom" and her "China dad" because those are the terms she uses. Sometimes I use the terms "first mother" and "first father" because I prefer those terms over birthparents or biological parents.

I think it's very difficult to balance the two concepts of "your first parents love you" and "your first parents abandoned you." It seems almost like a no-win situation. On the one hand, we have people telling us we HAVE to tell our child that her first parents loved her because to do otherwise will forever scar her, plus it acknowledges the socio-economic-political pressures they faced. On the other hand, we have experts telling us DON'T use the word love because then she will equate love with abandonment. And then even more experts tell us that we have to respond to everything with "I don't know" because at some point she will grow up and realize we couldn't possibly know anything because we've never even met them.

It's a lot tougher to navigate than many people realize. We have our way - and it works for us right now. I suspect it will change as the Tongginator's needs and wishes change. Then again, that's what parenting is all about, regardless of the topic.

The key here seems to be keeping the lines of communication open... remaining humble... and feeling secure in oneself as a parent. Hopefully I'll get better at those things as I continue to stumble along in this maze called parenting.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, T. You've led many to really think about this issue - which is an excellent thing.

t~ said...

Tonggu Momma, I couldn't agree more with what you said! Having a teenager down to a toddler has taught me a lot of things in parenting, but the main thing is that it will not be the same for each child and you have to be willing to grow and adapt to the duty that calls.

Campbell said...

Well said Tonggu Momma.

For the record, the thought of calling my birth/biological mother "mommy" or "mom" is absolutely foreign to me and if I ever do end up talking directly to her I'm quite sure I'll be calling her by her first name if she's alright with that.

Jenny F said...

Wow. Some people have a LOT to say... right out thier a**!!!! What an idiot, maybe she should simply move on to other blogs that share her screwed up view of what a mommy is. Or better yet, GET A Life. I'm just sayin...

Eme's pic~ beautiful!

Lindsay said...

It's what your daughter calls YOU that matters at the end of the day.

And she calls you Mommy and Daddy.

3 Peanuts said...

T--- I know this has probably been frustrating as heck for you to hear/read but Like Tonggu Mama has made me think and consider other perspectives. I think debate is healthy as it can open our minds and help us think about things we never considered before. Kate knows she is from China and she knows she is adopted but we have yet to mention a specific "birth mother" or "China mom" yet. She is 3 and she is blissfully unaware of being any different than me or my husband or her brothers (who are biological). We are a family and she joined our family by coming home from China. Like Tonggu Mama...I will most likely let Kate decided how to label the people who created her in China.

I was watching Kate at a b-day party this morning thinking about how glad I am that this can of worms is not really open yet. She thinks she looks like me and that I am her Mommy. Obviously, I am not hiding anything from her..I just think it is too early for me to make distinctions that are biological and that she would not yet understand. But that is why this is so helpful. By reading all of these opinions (even the ones I vehemently disagree with) it helps me become more convicted in what I think we will do when the time is appropriate .

So, thank you T for inadvertently starting this debate. It informs and makes up think. Try not to let the people who are just idiots get to you.


InMySeoul said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
InMySeoul said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
elizabeth said...

I'm not sure if I've commented here before, but I wanted to add my 2 cents. I haven't read all the responses thoroughly, but from what I've read it seems like InMySeoul and Mei Ling have taken a lot of abuse for their comments. They don't seem to be attacking anyone, just bringing up other perspectives but instead of being receptive, people get defensive. I don't have a firm opinion about this issue and I'm not going to take sides, but I really don't think it's right to say someone has issues or to dismiss their posts as stupid just because they are of a different opinion. If someone were outright criticizing someone else's parenting style or use of adoption terminology that's one thing, but that doesn't appear to be what's happening here. As someone who is not adopted, I think we can learn a lot from adult adoptees. I'm sure it is a profound experience, as I have seen with 2 close friends who are adult adoptees. I thought the Chinese adoption community looked toward adult Korean adoptees as a source of insight, as they are their children's predecesors in some ways and can perhaps provide assistance on how best to approach the difficult subjects of adoption, abandonment, and birth families. If I have missed something by not reading all the posts, I apologize.

Lastly, I am also curious about how someone of the opinion that God chooses a Chinese child to be placed with American parents feels the Chinese mother plays into it? I have friends in the adoption community who are beautiful matches personality wise to their children and it's easy to look at them and say it was meant to be, but then I remember the birth mothers. What merciful God would put millions on women in a situation where they end up abandoning their daughters?

t~ said...

You will find this blog to be very tolerable and very open to every opinion that posts here, rather I agree or not, and that is why I do not moderate comments.

But for the 2nd time in my 4 years of blogging, I deleted your 2 comments above. Play nice, don't attack and be respectful.

& on a personal note, let your guard down a little bit and I believe you will be better heard. I think you have a good insight into topics and I would hate to see your attitude overshadow that...just my own Mommy insight.

thank you

t~ said...


Ellie said...

How funny - I've been gone a few days and all this!

No way is anyone else but me "Mommy" you nailed it.

Kris said...

the more i think about this (because we have always referred to M-n-M's birthparents as China Mom and China Dad)- the more i am seeing valid points on both sides, but most importantly- one very valid point: to encourage or call the parents that (whether they had the choice or not) abandoned your adopted child "mommy" and "daddy" is misleading to me- it's as though you are making the ASSUMPTION that you know the circumstances of how your child was relinquished, when in truth- we APs (China) do not. Mommy and Daddy ARE terms of endearment, born out of love.

I do use the terms, as I said, "China Mom" and "China Dad". It's simple, and I hope it will help her understand that she does have 2 families, 2 sets of parents- unfortunately her first will never be known to her. But I would draw the line at "mommy" and "daddy" too. the argument on those terms seems silly. the answer is obvious.

dawn said...

I am rally late chiming in here but I had to get the words sorted out in my head.
Gotcha day?family day whatever it is called seemed so important in the beginning. Each day that past was a day longer that we were a family and I really needed Lily to be part of her/our family longer than she was in the foster home and orphanage. The anniversary of the day we met was a big deal that first year but as the years have passed, (6 now) it has become less and less of a celebration.
For us the day that stands out as the most life changing was the day of the referral call. Nothing quite compares to that moment when you see "that" face for the first time.That face that you are so madly in love with. That face that you have dreamed of for years is finally a reality and you can see her eyes and her lips, her hands and her fingernails. I know that you still cannot touch them but they are there and nothing is ever the same again.
I know you don't read my blog but now that Lily is approaching 8 we are having more and more talks about how she feels about birthparents and it is really eye opening. Almost 2 years ago she out of the blue called her birthparents her "real" parents. I asked her why and she said, because they gave me life so they are the most real. Knocked me sideways a little. Now she feels differently. So however we choose to talk to them they clearly have their own minds and work through it in their own ways and that is where you will do an amazing job because you GET IT. Our latest discussion was one pertaining to the scars around her ankles from the potty chairs......I know you have those too.
Sorry, didn't mean to write a book.