Adoptive Mothers ARE Real Mothers

Mother’s Day can be a bittersweet time for adoptive mothers. I know it is for me for a variety of reasons. It doesn’t help when people say thoughtless, insensitive things that imply that adoptive mothers aren’t “real” moms and that adopted children aren’t loved or wanted by their biological mothers. For adoptive mothers everywhere – wishing you a wonderful, love-filled Mother’s Day!

Mother’s Day can be a bittersweet time for adoptive mothers. I know it is for me. You can’t know what it’s like to be the mother of an adopted child, unless you’re also an adoptive mother. Although my two adoptive daughters physically resemble my husband and myself, we never considered hiding it from them. They grew up knowing their adoption stories.

Being an adoptive mother isn’t easy, and sometimes you have to develop a thick skin. Although it’s been years, I still remember some of the insensitive things that people said to me…

  • “Is she yours?”
  • “Where did you get her?”
  • “Didn’t her real parents want her?”
  • “How could someone give away such a pretty child?”
  • “Where is her real mom?” 
  • “Just be glad you didn’t have to go through pregnancy and childbirth.”
  • “I’d be so afraid she’ll leave and go back to her real family. Aren’t you worried about that?”

Well-meaning questions can lead to interesting and educational conversations, which I happily entertain. But often people are just thoughtlessly curious, not realizing the hurt they leave in their wake.

Along with these external pressures, our lives were complicated because my girls came into my life as traumatized babies, separated from their birth mothers. I sang to them. I swaddled them. I slept with them resting on my breast. I told them how beautiful and amazing they were. I sometimes think I love my adopted children more since they were so much more work.

But I couldn’t heal the wound of separation from their biological connection. As a result my daughters are in a kind of love limbo. Their head tells them that I love them. Their heart tells them they are forsaken.

I have not seen my daughters in years, as they stick to their resolve that I’m the source of their distress. I hope they’ll eventually realize that we still have time to reunite and live in harmony.

I’ve written about those tumultuous years in my new book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS: How to stop those hell-bent on destroying you,” in the hopes of helping others who confront similar experiences. Originally it was entitled: “No One Calls Me Mom Anymore,” because much of it centers on the lessons I’ve learned from being a mother. But that soon became the title for first chapter, which you can download for free here.)

Today I focus on the blessing I have and the God-given ability to rise to the level of abundant Radiant Empathy. Dozens of people call me “Mom,” including young friends and clients. I am blessed and proud to be Mom and Grandma to those who need me and genuinely love me. So I’m going to enjoy my Mother’s Day and I hope you do too.

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