The Day My Daughter First Called Her Birth Mom by Name

Our 2-year-old's spontaneous exclamation of love helped us know we might be doing all right.

Shelley Skuster May 14, 2016
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It was a Friday night.

We packed our minivan and hit the road, grabbed some grub at the drive-thru, and hit the road. Our family was headed out of town for a wedding.

Behind me, our two-year-old had her tablet blasting with Barney songs, and our one-year-old was somehow peacefully sleeping. I swear that child can sleep through anything.

My husband and I were talking about our days—how many diapers I changed and noses I wiped and how many court reports he had to finish up before the weekend—when all of the sudden our daughter shouted, “Remember Momma Tina*?”

It got quiet, and she asked again with enthusiasm.

“Remember Momma Tina?!”

My heart wanted to burst with so many different emotions.

“YES! Of course, sweetie! We remember Momma Tina! We love Momma Tina!”

“Me, too. I lovvvvvvvvvve Momma Tina. Momma Tina pretty like me!” she said.

And just like that, she was back to singing along with her favorite purple dinosaur.

I looked over at my husband, who was silently focused on the road.

He glanced over at me, and through the oncoming headlights I could see him smile.

You see, we talk about Momma Tina openly in our house. We have photos displayed in frames and in albums from our families together during visits. We exchange cards, notes, and artwork regularly. We text each other often, just as any good friends and family members do.

But in the quiet times—when it’s just my husband and me—we wonder when our daughters will start to understand our unique “family orchard,” whether we’re doing this whole “open adoption” thing right, and how they’ll view their birth families and their adoptions into our family as they grow older.

As we continued our drive that Friday night, I felt like we’d done something right.

The fact that our two-year old felt comfortable talking about her birth mom at such a young age . . . that she made the connection of them resembling each other . . . and that she said she loves her as we rode in our minivan down a dark interstate on a Friday night reassured me we’re doing all right.

I grabbed my cell phone and texted my daughter’s birth mom to tell her about what happened.

Her response: “Awwwww . . . I love y’all!”

And we love her, too.

*Name has been changed.

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Shelley Skuster

Shelley is a former award-winning television journalist who traded in suit coats and red lipstick for a messy bun and yoga pants. She's a freelance writer who stays at home with her three daughters who are all ((gasp)) under the age of three and came to her via adoption and birth. She's the woman behind the blog Shelley Writes, and she can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.


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