The other day I brought my daughter to the home of one of the students that I homeschool. This is not a normal occurence but since she was home with me this week I decided to bring her along. Everything was going well- the kids got along beautifully, said daughter was happy to look at her new surroundings, watch the fish and play with new toys.
Then it happened.....my student asked the question I've been waiting for someone to ask: "So, who is your daughter's real mother?". To say I was stunned by this question would be an understatement. My response was "I am her REAL mother". I am not implying by that statement that my daughter's birth mother isn't real, didn't give birth to her or isn't a part of her life because that's not true on any level but I am saying that I am the one who takes care of her on a daily basis, loves her like no one else possibly could and is here for her forever and always no matter what comes hew way in life. Right now, my daughter does not yet fully understand what it means to be adopted. She knows she has a birth mother and father and a half brother but even these concepts are very abstract to an almost 3 year old. What she does understand is that my husband and I are her family---we are her parents in all the ways that matter.
My students' parents were embarassed that their child had even brought this question to the fore front. I,on the other hand decided that the question wasn't meant to hurt me or my daughter but to help my student understand what adoption truly means. I think the best explanation of adoption that I have heard recently was actually while viewing an episode of "Sesame Street". Gina, decides to adopt a baby from Guatamela. When Elmo asks what adoption is, Gina's reply is straight forward and to the point. Gina discusses how there’s a baby who needs love and caring for and she wants to be the person to provide those things. What a perfect way to describe such a complicated topic to preschoolers. This explanation offers just enough detail without being overwhelming.
When I was a child, our family had some friends that had adopted two children that were about the same age as I was. I never questioned who their parents were because to me it was obvious, THEY were their parents even if someone else gave birth to them. As someone recently pointed out to me, giving birth doesn't make you a parent. The only thing I could think of when I heard this quote was something that I read in a Joyce Meyer book which said: "Just because you go to church doesn't mean you're a Christian. I can go sit in the garage all day and it doesn't make me a car!. Same principle just different words.
I guess I better get used to questions because people are people and they have inquiring minds. We also know that our daughter will have a lot of questions as she grows and understands more as well. Does this mean that we should never tell anyone that she is adopted to protect her and us from the pain the "REAL MOM" question poses? I don't think so but I do think as she grows, she will choose who she will or won't want to tell. In reality, being adopted doesn't make our daughter different in a negative way. In fact, she is lucky to have more branches on her family tree than the average child her age.
So, yes the "REAL Mother" has stood up and taken credit for all that she has done and will do throughout her child's life. "REAL" has never sounded so good :) .
Until we meet again,
Cheryl and Jason