“I have three moms,” my 8-year-old, Liza, exuberantly told our neighbor. Although this was the first time we had spoken at length with this neighbor, conversation had turned quickly towards adoption. Soon after we began visiting that day we learned that we both had ties to adoption: me, made a mother twice through adoption, and she, the mother of a birth mother. We were excited to learn of the connection we shared and happened to be talking about openness in adoption when my daughter made this comment. Somewhat surprised, my neighbor said, “Oh?”
As Liza continued to twirl on her swing she explained. “Yes, three moms.” In response to her new found friend’s quizzical expression she went on to explain. “Well, there’s my mom, of course,” she said, pointing to me. “I also have a birth mom. Her name is Sadie. She doesn’t live here, but I do see her sometimes. And then my birth dad, Justin, is married to Erica, so I guess she is kinda my mom too. I’ve never met her but she sends me letters and presents.”
Our neighbor was, I believe, both mildly surprised and impressed at the ability our daughter had to put together the relationships in her life. As naturally as she twirled in her swing, Liza shared the details of her family, including her birth family, with ease and practical understanding. I’d like to think it gave my neighbor solace and hope that the child her daughter placed for adoption would also, as he grew, understand and know of his birth mother.
In our continuing quest to help our children love and understand adoption, my husband and I are often pleasantly surprised by the connections our daughter makes on her own with information gathered bit by bit over time. Neither of us had ever heard her make this particular statement, but we have had many conversations and answered many questions regarding her birth parents. More than once our conversations have required a paper and pencil to illustrate her connection with her birth parents, and their relationships with new individuals. I was thrilled to hear her share her knowledge. As she grows older, she will understand how unique, different, and special each of these mothers’ roles is in her adoption story.
As I later reflected on this experience I found myself examining my thoughts and feelings. For a moment I wondered if I should try to correct her, or encourage her to use different terminology when referring to her birth parents and their spouses. Perhaps I should have felt concern, but I didn’t. I am confident in my role as her mother and feel no threat at all with her perception of several “moms”. Adoption, and particularly open adoption is a great blessing in our family, and I’m more than happy to share the title of “Mom” with women I love and admire
(I have changed the names of our daughter’s birth parents; you don’t want to know THAT much about me!)