Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption Book Tour!!

Welcome and pull up a chair, grab a nice cup of tea or coffee, and please help yourself to some of the goodies we have for this book tour.  The book was written by the wonderful Lori and is "The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption".

The term “Real Mother” or “Real Parents” comes up quite frequently in an adoptee’s life.  Lori suggests in her book that we see each set of parents (birth and adoptive) as “Real”.  Do you agree?  How would you personally handle this terminology? And are there other ways to effectively deal with this term if used by your child or directed at your child by another?

As a step-parent, I frequently struggle with this terminology.  My step-child's mother is her mother. I'm also her mother is many ways.  We both have earned the title, but she calls her mother, Mom and me April.  In terms of adoptees and their birth and adoptive parents, I see both as real mothers.  The adoptive mother is the parent who is there for every step from birth forward, who loves this child with all of their heart.  She is the day to day parent, the one who is there for the child at all times.  This does not mean that the birth or first mother is not a mother.  She was the one who was there giving the child life and laboring to bring the child into the world.  She loved the child so much that she gave her child to another person to raise and love.  I would not feel hurt or betrayed if a child that I adopted referred to their birth mother as their mother because it is true.  I would also encourage and try to help the child understand the pieces and parts that made up their family so that they would feel comfortable answering questions and explaining about their family, because in an open adoption everyone is family.

Lori refers to the relationship between adoptive parents and birthparents as similar to an in-law relationship.  Does thinking about the relationship as an in-law relationship influence how you approach open adoption?

Looking at the relationship as that of an in-law relationship does make it an easier one to process. With your in-laws, you treat each other with respect and open your heart to adding these new members to your family.  You don't always have to agree with the choices and decisions that they make, but you forge a connection with them because you both love their son / daughter.  It's the same concept for a birth parent.  You both love the child.  You make the connection with each other because of the child.  This doesn't mean that you have to love every thing that the birth parent does or that you have to agree with all of their choices. You still have the right to assert your thoughts and feelings as the parent of the child.  However, treating the birth parent with respect helps keep the lines of communication open and keeps the child as the most important part of the equation.
Please return to the main post to read more opinions on Lori Holden's The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption.


Michele said...

I haven't read the book, but in my personal life, I refer to my (adoptive) mother as just my mother because that is what she is and has always been. I alternately refer to the woman who birthed me as either my "birth mother" or, when talking with other mothers who have chosen adoption and find that term a offensive, "first mother", which is seen as the more PC term. That's just me.

Anne Bauer said...

As an adoptee, I was always taken aback when someone asked me if I was ever going to find my "real" mother someday. Even though the comments were not made in any way to diminish my adoptive mother's importance in my life, (I am sure the term 'real' was used only to refer and distinguish the original mother) it still made me feel bad whenever that term was used when i was a child. Not only did I have no idea about the person who gave birth to me but others also didn't seem to think my Mom now was real. When I got older I would quickly answer this question by saying, "Oh you mean the person who gave birth to me? Yes, someday I may find her." The general public is very ignorant when it comes to correct terminology in adoption and I personally have no objections to any of the terms used except the "real" term.

Kathy said...

Here via the book tour and enjoyed reading your answers! I echo your thoughts and feelings about referring to either the adoptive or birth/first mother as "real." I appreciate the ways Lori explains in her book adoptive parents, children who are adopted and even birth/first parents can handle such terminology and questions they may hear.

I also chose to answer the in-law question and found that to be a very helpful analogy to make between the relationship everyone in the adoption constellation can try to have, similar to how in-laws also try to get along and find common ground for the sake of their children/spouse.

Liz said...

I absolutely agree with your statement: "I would not feel hurt or betrayed if a child that I adopted referred to their birth mother as their mother because it is true." Yep. Of course, part of my answer is hypothetical. My daughter can't call anyone Mom just yet (although sometimes we pretend that "mamamamamama" is actually a word). The "it's true" part is what resonates with me the most. I feel like we don't yet have the language for the reality of many of our family constellations (single and step-parenting included). I'm glad we wrestle with our limited words and hope we'll keep reaching for new ones that may serve us better.

Thanks for these thoughts and reflections! Glad to have "met" you through this book tour. :)

Andy Drouin said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I've always wondered how a step-parent would relate to the adoption terminology, since there are some similarities to the 2 situations.

Great post!

Lollipop Goldstein said...

I hadn't thought about how much that step-parent relationship can mirror open adoption, especially in balancing relationships. I like that there is room for more than one kind of mother.

Alicia said...

Hi from the book tour!

Growing up, I was a member of a family with a stepmother, stepfather, stepbrother, stepsister, two half sisters and one full sister. I think having this experience really has helped me in shaping how my own open adoption will look like for myself, my daughter and my daughter's first mother.

You're totally right - there is a place for all the mothers, isn't there? As a child, I was never confused about who was who and what role they played in my life. And having various players in my life didn't take away from the others - as long as I was allowed to openly love, there was room in my heart for everyone. Anytime that this was challenged, I could feel my heart close b/c I felt like by loving everyone, I was doing something "bad."

I found it interesting that Lori let her children choose the titles for their birth mother - this is something I've been wondering about how to approach with my own daughter, and reading how Lori handled this (allowing her children to choose the titles) made me realize that I don't need to make this decision for my daughter.


Lori Lavender Luz said...

Hi, April. Thanks so much for being part of this tour!

I hadn't realized at the time I was writing that so much about healing the split in adoption can also be applied to the split in step-families. Good observation.

I would love it if you could put a brief review on Amazon.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts -- it's very affirming for me to know that my messages were received the way I intended :-).

m said...

Like others here, (you too, Lori?) I hadn't pictured step families and those constellations when thinking about openness, but gosh, it's right there, isn't it? I love making room for all mothers, widening the circle as Lori would say. Thank you for turning that light bulb on for me!

Anne, my childhood was filled with that question too. I like how you handled it better.

And you know, I have had very few conversations with my mom about my birth family. She's knows I've been in touch with my birth father, but that's about it. Am I afraid to hurt her feelings? Is she afraid to ask for more info? Clearly, there are some areas in my own life where I could encourage the openness that Lori's book promotes.