February 2, 2012 by greenhouse04
Birth Mom. Birth Dad. Whew – for an adoptive mom like me who dealt with the birth parents for months through the foster care system these words can stir up a bevy of mixed emotions – anger, sorrow, defensiveness, fear, relief.
If you’re a parent with an imagination, try to imagine this: your child being held and cuddled by scary-looking strangers, and you not able to protect her from them; your child screaming to the point of exhaustion for 45 minutes during a medical procedure while you stand outside the door and some other woman holds her; listening to a man rant that he will fight for his child, while you pray that he loses the fight; seeing your child drive off to go to a house you’ve never seen to be cared for by a man with a drug and criminal record; knowing that you have less say over your child’s future than anyone involved in his life.
Imagine all this, then try to imagine more – weeks and months of dealing with visits, seeing them at doctor visits, not knowing if this child who is already yours in your heart, will ever really be yours’. You can see why I have feelings of fear, defensiveness, sorrow, and anger when I think of birth parents, and also feelings of relief!
But here’s the truth of the matter: these are my children’s parents. They gave birth to them, they gave them their genetic heritage. They are a huge part of my child’s identity.
I finally came to the place recently where I realized had to make a change in how I remember and view my children’s birth parents. These negative feelings had to go, primarily because one way I am often reminded of the birth parents is through my children. The emotions I felt when I recognized her birth dad in the way Emma walked, or her birth mom in the way she flared her nostrils disturbed me. This is who she is – I hated the thought of having any aversion at all to that, and I want her to know and feel that I completely love and accept her for who she is. This means that I also have to love and accept the part her birth parents play in her identity.
But even beyond this, I felt that I need to develop love for her birth parents. Have you ever heard the saying, “I love him for his mom’s sake” or something similar? Perhaps some adoptive parents can fully love their children while disliking the birth parents, but for me I don’t know if that’s possible. These are the closest relatives my children have. They will share their genetic make-up, history, and heritage all of their lives. These were the first heartbeats and voices my children heard, the first bodies from which they received nourishment and protection and comfort. How can I love my children so much, yet refuse to feel one inkling of gratitude and warmth toward those who gave my children life?
So I have decided to remember the positive from my interactions with the birth parents.
I will remember the unbridled love Eddie’s birth mom displayed for him whenever she saw him.
I will remember her face filled with tears and distorted with grief when she said goodbye after a visit.
I will remember how his birth dad tried to draw him out and play with him.
I will remember the people God made them to be, however covered and distorted by sin – their sense of humor and playfulness, their sensitivity, their eagerness to please, their strong devotion to him – and I will celebrate these traits I see in my son.
I will remember how Emma’s birth mom asked me with tears when she was only a month old if we would adopt her if things didn’t go well for them, since she didn’t want her baby to be moved to another strange home.
I will remember the eagerness in both her parents’ eyes when she arrived for a visit, and how they couldn’t wait to pick her up and cuddle her and study her little body.
I will remember how they marveled that such a perfect baby came out of the birth mom’s body, and how proudly the birth dad took pictures for his friends to see.
I will remember how Emma’s birth mom, at great risk to herself, revealed the truth about the birth dad in order to protect Emma.
I will remember the people God made them to be, however covered and distorted by sin – her birth mom’s intelligence, friendliness, openness, willingness to admit her fault; her birth dad’s determination, energy, quick-thinking, competitiveness – and I will celebrate these traits I see in my daughter.
I will remember these things for my children. I will allow gratitude, generosity, mercy, grief, and yes, even love fill my heart when I think of their birth parents. This is a part of who my children are, this is part of their history. This is how much I love my children.