February 9, 2012 by greenhouse04
Am I a real parent? For adoptive parents, this can be a nagging doubt buried deep in the place where our most fundamental questions of self-worth lie hidden. It may stay buried until nearly forgotten, or it may rear its ugly head when a stranger asks, “where are their real parents?” or when your child asks, “who were my real parents?”
I wrote some time ago about a dream I had in which I was holding a tiny baby, cuddling her, caring for her, and loving her. Then I realized my baby was a doll – not a real child. I was merely pretending to be a parent.
As a foster parent, the sensation of pretending to be a parent is common. In fact, most of the time, I felt like a glorified babysitter. But now that we are adopting these children, I should feel totally and completely like they’re mine – like I’m their real parent, right?
Wrong. This nagging doubt is still buried deep, and reminds me of its presence every now and again. It causes twinges of fear, reservation, and guilt. It makes me hold back from loving my children as fully as only a real mom can, and truly taking ownership of their upbringing.
Before I can completely give myself to being my children’s real mom, I must settle in my mind whether I really am a real parent. So here it is: I am a real parent. I am the real mom of Eddie and Emma. Once they are adopted, I’ll be their legal mom, their adoptive mom, but even now I am their real mom.
Their birth moms are real moms, too. No one can ever take away their motherhood toward Eddie and Emma. They gave them their first home and genetic identity. I give them their forever home and their environmental identity. Without one or the other, my children would not be who they are today.
I have the right to fully love my children as such, to mother them with full ownership and responsibility. I have the right to feel all the joy, fear, sorrow, fulfillment, guilt, and pride that a real mother feels toward her children.
Hooray! I am a REAL parent!