As an adoptive mother, I knew this conversation would happen. I expected many conversations like this one, but I expected them to start during the more challenging tween or teen years. In my mind, these were the years where he would be looking for answers. He might need to know about his past to help form his thoughts about his future.
“What is the name of my real mother?”
When I heard that question, my stomach sank. I said playfully, “You know what our names are…Mommy and Mama.”
I knew what he meant, but I was stalling. I was trying to give my heart time to catch up with my head.
I paused in the dark and then told him the truth.
He laid in his bed, in his room, and he didn’t respond right away. I couldn’t see his face, however, I could tell by the way that his body remained still that he was thinking.
“Are you adopted?” Without any hesitation, I told him that I wasn’t. I reminded him that the people he calls “Granny” and “Grampy” were my parents.
“Is Mommy adopted?” I explained that she wasn’t either.
My mind raced. I started to say way too much, just too many words.
I tried to fill every bit of the room at that very moment with all the positive things about adoption. I tried to tell him about all the people who I knew that are adopted. I continued to talk until I paused and waited for his words.
He didn’t speak. Even in the dark, I could almost hear the sounds of his mind racing and his thoughts making connections from the known information to the unknown.
In reality, I know people who are very secure with the fact that they are adopted. They don’t even give it a second thought.
Unfortunately, I also know some that have been haunted by the questions, the unknown, and the idea that someone could let them go at their most vulnerable time.
I don’t want my son to be the latter.
My son has always known that he was adopted. He knows that there were conditions that made it impossible for her to keep him. He knows that we love him, but when we start to talk about ethnicity and heritage, there are moments that are uncomfortably quiet. When we do find out information that he requests, instead of answers, he seems to be left with more questions. This sends us back on a continued treasure hunt for information. I imagine this cycle will continue for a long time.
Looking back, I was really thrown by the words “real mother” even though I knew what he meant. After all, she is the one that held him first and looked into his beautiful eyes before we even knew about his arrival.
I don’t know if any adoptive mother is ever completely okay with hearing another woman be called the “real mother.” It leaves me feeling a bit insecure, even though I know that I shouldn’t. Should I?