Parenting After Adoption Loss: Things I Won't Say
Author's note: I relinquished my firstborn for adoption when she was born. I maintain a fully open adoption with my daughter and her family. I blog my experience as a birth mother in such a situation at The Chronicles in Munchkin Land.
I was scrolling the #adoption hashtag on twitter. Because I do that sometimes. Apparently I'm a glutton for punishment. Sometimes I have to tweet things (that others kindly retweet) to remind people that they're not entitled to others' babies. But this is not one of those circumstances.
This is one of my triggers. I read the following tweet.
When I was a tween and teen, I used to say that Princess Diana was my "Real Mom" and that she had to "give me up" because I was "illegitimate" and she wouldn't have been able to marry Prince Charles. Please note that I never claimed Prince Charles was my "Real Dad." Ick. I digress. Imagine how devastated I was when she died.
After my first parented son was born, my Grandma called to check on us. I talked about how exhausted I was and how I just wanted to sleep but, oh, he was so very perfect. She quipped, "So you're gonna keep him then?" My breath caught in my throat.
On our last family vacation, my brother made some joke about being adopted. I leveled my gaze in that way that Big Sisters do and said, quite simply, "There is nothing wrong with being adopted." My sons were in the room, at the same table where we were eating lunch. I wanted so smack my brother. I wanted to scream at my brother. I took the calm route, but there was no mistaking my Serious Voice.
There are things that I can't and won't say aloud. Our family is like every other family in that my kids drive me absolutely batty. They talk above and over me when I'm trying to tell my husband something about our day when he was away. They wake me up in the middle of the night with everything from requests for a drink of water to vomit. Everywhere. They puke in my hands. At restaurants. They whine. They fuss. Sometimes they throw tantrums. In public. They're stubborn. Like their mother. And their father. They push all of my buttons. And then some.
But they're mine.
BigBrother has been processing the fact that Munchkin grew in my belly -- like he did. And she lives with different people who are her parents. He asks questions at times that make me hurt in the very deepest part of my being. He hasn't really brought forth any anger yet, just those questions from children that are so honest, so genuine that I can't help but see -- so clearly -- what I have done. He is not as innocent as his peers. He recognizes that families aren't necessarily forever. He understands that parents make mistakes. He has an anxiety that something could happen. And it hurts. It makes me angry with myself. I'm glad we talk about it, that I can address his fears and reassure him with love and consistency. But, oh, I wish he didn't have those fears.
So, no, I'm not going to tell him that if he doesn't behave, he's out the door. If he throws a tantrum when we decide that we had too much screen time during the day to play the Wii as a family in the evening, it's not the end of our family. When he pushes his brother, he's not out the door. When he says something that we have currently deemed inappropriate, I'm not shipping him off to another family. Or his brother. That's just not the way it works. I'm not going to make those idle threats, even in jest. I'm not going to contribute to the fears that are just beneath his pretty confident surface.
I'm sure that twitter guy didn't realize what he was saying. I'm sure that people who joke about giving their kids away are not meaning to be cruel. But it's not going to happen in our home. I need to reassure my children that they are always loved, always wanted and always safe within our home. It's my job as a mom. It's my husband's job as a dad. And it's our job as parents of a family unit that has experienced the unique situation of sibling relinquishment.
My sons, my daughter and her brother in Summer 2010.
It's a job that I'll do without question, without hesitation. I need my sons to feel secure in our family.
Contributing Editor Jenna Hatfield (@FireMom) blogs at Stop, Drop and Blog and The Chronicles of Munchkin Land. She is a freelance writer and photographer. This post was originally published at The Chronicles of Munchkin Land. The comments there provided insight from others if you're interested in other view points.