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Post-finalization - starting a new page & first mom name

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 

We recently adopted our long-term foster child. I have two primary points I'd like some input on right now.

 

1. We took to heart the warnings that he isn't ours unless and until finalization. We stayed focused on being his foster parents, even when things were clearly pointing toward adoption. Now that we have finalization and have given it time to feel real, it still doesn't. We're firmly bonded, but don't feel like his legal parents. We don't feel "free" of the CPS oversight or like we're on a new page of our family story. Anyone else ever felt this way?

 

2. We've found a lot of discussions on first parent titles like birthmom or tummy mommy, but not much on first parent names. We're trying to come up with a name for his first mom that is sensitive to her, not confusing, and which would be appropriate for a long term relationship. He's a toddler now, but we don't care for names that would sound ridiculous coming from a 25-yr-old. We're open to it changing if he wants it to later, but these are our guidelines for right now. Complicating this is that she wants to be called Mommy (not Mommy FirstName) and we can't really refer to her as Mommy because it would be confusing if we mean her or me. For her title, we usually say his mother because it makes sense in context. It just feels wrong to call her anything else. It's a title we share, having split the duties, and it seems demeaning for me in our situation to now qualify that as a matter of course, though we use birthmom or first mom if the situation requires more detail. We have a semi-open adoption with cards, letters, and occasional visits. Any recommendations on other names he can use for her?

post #2 of 31

We got our daughter at 6 hours of age. We met birthmom as she was driving to the lawyer's to sign TPR. Since it was an unknown birthfather, we had to wait until day 70 for his right to be terminated. We finalized at 3 months 5 days. We had her from the very beginning and no one expected the dad to show up. Yet even finalization didn't feel final. Then the birth certificate came. That's when I stopped fearing someone would take her away.

 

We refer to the birthmom as Mama first name.

post #3 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Momma Molly View Post

We recently adopted our long-term foster child. I have two primary points I'd like some input on right now.

 

1. We took to heart the warnings that he isn't ours unless and until finalization. We stayed focused on being his foster parents, even when things were clearly pointing toward adoption. Now that we have finalization and have given it time to feel real, it still doesn't. We're firmly bonded, but don't feel like his legal parents. We don't feel "free" of the CPS oversight or like we're on a new page of our family story. Anyone else ever felt this way?

 

I know it's not the same, but my first kids (twins) were born extremely premature (24 weeks).  That was 16 years ago and the prognosis was nightmarish:  75% chance they'd die before they ever came home; if they did come home, there was a 75% chance they'd be rehospitalized in the 1st year; high probability of serious problems with nearly every organ system in their bodies...  When they did come home, they were on oxygen and apnea monitors; had a grueling, round-the-clock schedule of medications and breathing treatments; weekly pediatrician appts. (daily, if they got sick - even a cold); weekly blood-draws to monitor med levels; monthly appts. with 5 different specialists plus a NICU follow-up clinic; and weekly home visits from 2 different therapists and one nurse who helped me, and a second nurse who checked up on the babies.

 

In the hospital, I was accustomed to basically asking permission, before I even touched my babies.  I was conscious that if I got to feed or hold them, it was because the people who were actually keeping them alive were indulging me.  Don't get me wrong - I'm not complaining.  I was melt-on-the-floor grateful to their nurses and doctors.  But obviously, I wasn't qualified to meet my babies' most significant needs.  For a long time after they came home, I didn't feel any different.  I was happy they were home.  But I was scrambling to follow a schedule and a list of instructions compiled by 7 or 8 doctors and 2 nurses, not to mention trying to reassure my frightened parents and in-laws, who wondered whether a 22-year-old first-time mom could possibly parent these children adequately; and trying to placate the demonic La Leche League rep who kept hounding me, making me feel that if I didn't keep pumping blood out of my nipples, in my efforts to relactate, that I didn't really care about my children...  I did not for a minute feel like these children were really mine.  I felt like they belonged to all the professionals who knew what I needed to do for them, and who were so closely monitoring how I did it.  Irrationally, but deeply, I felt that if I screwed up or deviated from their plans in the slightest way, that someone might decide I shouldn't keep my babies.

 

Is that, somewhat, how you feel?  That if this child were really "yours", no one would be monitoring you as a parent, since you've never mistreated or neglected him?

 

Well, one day we were going through our normal routine: pediatrician appt., and stop by the blood lab on the way out.  But the usual pediatric phlebotomist wasn't in, so we had to go to the regular (adult) lab, in the hospital.  They had trouble finding my son's vein.  After a miserable 10-15 minutes that seemed like hours, I had one of those epiphanies that are so clear, it almost seemed like everyone else in the room froze, while my thinking changed.  All these people were bent over the table, working on my screaming baby.  How many times had I watched the same sort of thing, conscious that I was the least-qualified person in the room, and standing back so I didn't get in the way of the people who might save my child's life?  But this time, I realized I was the only person in the room who knew that this particular child never cries when he gets blood drawn, and that the phlebotomist who is experienced with infant veins never has a problem finding his.  Moreover, I realized that if I stepped forward and told all of them to stop, and said we'd wait and get his blood drawn when the pediatric lab reopened, of course no one would take my children away from me!  In fact, they would all do whatever I told them to do.

 

Because I was his mother.

 

And after that day, I never again felt like an unpaid, overworked, excessively-emotionally-attached babysitter, who might be fired if something went wrong. It really was that dramatic a shift in my perception of the relationship.

 

Perhaps, if you try to accept that how you're feeling is completely understandable, given the circumstances; and you try to stop thinking about it, and just live your new life, you will also have a day when you suddenly realize, "I AM his mother!"  I hope you will. 

post #4 of 31

Sorry, I have no help on the names. Our birth mom is out of the picture, but we call his foster parents Mama firstname and Papa firstname.

 

On it feeling "real" -- it took me a LONG time to feel it was over. I almost missed the ridiculous home visits, just b/c I was so used to them disrupting things. DS came home at 4 months, but adoption wasn't final til he was almost 2, so it just took awhile for it to sink in. I think for me it was just like most big things that you look forward to and fight for for a long time. Once it comes and the fight is over, there's an emptiness or longing in the space where the anticipation was and you don't know what to do with it. It goes away in time, and suddenly one day you realize that you do feel like their "real" mom.

 

Jeanine, OMG. I'm sorry you had to go through any of that with your babies. Glad to see in your siggy that it was so long ago!

post #5 of 31
Thread Starter 

That's exactly how I feel! Thank you, ladies. Your stories spoke to my heart and helped heal it. It's good to know that this too shall pass. tiphat.gif

post #6 of 31

We call the first mom Miss First Name.  We have no contact with her, so I don't know how she would feel about it.

post #7 of 31

We have been dealing with what to call our daughter's birth mother for many years now. Honestly, I think it will be ok to use "mommy." What HE calls her would be "mommy" and in the context of any particular discussion, you can do a number of things to make it clear which mommy you are referring to.  I would guess that what his birth mother is asking for is that he refer to her as "mommy;" you can say, "We are going to visit your other mommy now," or "We are going to visit your mommy that lives in [place]," or "Your mommy called to say hello yesterday." 

 

My partner is a woman, so we are both mama/mom/mommy; it's not confusing, because the context makes it clear most of the time. If our daughter is with me and says, "Mom is going to take me to the store later," I just know she means my partner, not me.  (Our daughter can always can resort to a first name - "mama x" - if she's calling out and wants one of us specifically.) The same thing has naturally evolved with her birth mother. We started out using her first name after the title "mama", and our daughter, now 7, prefers her to just be her "mama," not with some special qualifier like "birth." When she says, "mom" and doesn't mean either of us, we know she means her other mom. This all sounds way more confusing than it ends up being! The bottom line is that our daughter is loved by three moms, and we all are important to her. I feel that our language should reflect that.

 

And I hear you on the "tummy mommy" thing - I mean really. It's cute at age 2 - maybe - but any older and it sounds weird.  Besides which, babies aren't born from stomachs.

post #8 of 31

As an adult that was a child raised by another person other than my biological mother..... here's my suggestion. 

 

My MOM used to get intensely jealous when I called my biomom MOTHER, which was, as a child, my distinction for the two.    Even BioMom, which was my favorite term, made her jealous and it made me feel uncomfortable to call her anything other than something demeaning like "egg donor."

 

BioMom is still the term I use to this day.  It acknowledges her part in my life, and I never get any questions about it.  Having a term that didn't require a great deal of explaination made me feel more comfortable.  

 

Just some food for thought. :)

 

post #9 of 31

We've got an open relationship with DS's biological mother and grandmother and we will be starting to have a relationship (to be detemined) with DD's birth father. I use the term birth mother/father, but when we talk about them, we use first names (except for Grandma, who is just "Grandma." DS's birth mother will sometimes call me "Mommy First Name" and his grandmother does that at times, too but that's a format that I never use.

post #10 of 31

With my dd who is 9, has a long history with her bmom and has only lived with me a year, we just say "mom" for her bmom. Sometimes she will say birthmother and sometimes i will use the first name...but i have tried to make it very clear to her that i dont mind AT ALL for her to say "my mom", i am not jealous, its totally fine. She seems to not believe me, not sure why.

 

Her brother, who hasnt lived with bmom since 9 months old but then had visits until 2 years old...he doesnt really call her much, as he doesnt like to talk about her at all for some reason. When she does come up, he calls her "my black mommy" which is kind of cute. He DOES talk about his bdad quite a bit (for awhile it was obsessively, several times a day, making up all sorts of stories about him)...he lived with him until i got him at 16 months old and they were quite bonded. He ALWAYS calls him "my daddy" (sometimes "my black daddy") and since there is no OTHER "daddy" in our home there is no confusion.

 

My other adopted son...its been harder even explaining to him he's adopted. I JUST introduced the idea to him a little while ago (he'll be 4 in Jan)...he's been with me since he was 3 weeks, never had visits...i think the idea for him that he ever had "another mommy" is just so abstract im not sure he'd get it. I kinda get how people used to just not say anything, not even on purpose in a secret-keeping way but in a "it didnt come up" way...because its been weird for me to try to bring that up to a toddler. I did tell him he has another uncle, a black uncle and he used to see him as a baby, and he seemed intrigued by that. I'll have to find the one picture we have of the uncle. I have no pics or contact with bmom. :(

 

I'm not sure exactly how i'd handle it if the kids were having visits...with the two kids...there are no plans at all for actual visits or contact with bmom...i do have contact via computer and txt but thats between her and me not the kids. I dont think she'd really ever "give up" being called "mommy" and i think my son would not handle it well if she tried to say "im your mommy'...with my daughter, its fine if she did that...but emotionally now is not the right time for in person contact so its not an issue either. With my other son...i think he'd be baffled if a woman he does not know called herself his mommy. But she is totally MIA anyway so again, not an issue. :(

 

 

 

post #11 of 31

Our son's biomom is not living so we have other issues, but I think "mommy" is confusing and also sort of ignores the fact that she isn't mothering him. "Mommy" is an intimate term for someone who is mothering daily. We are calling our son's (and soon to be daughter's) biomoms either "biomom" or by their personal names, or I might say, "Your bio mom (name)". They have/had lovely names and I would like to use them. I also think using their names is more personal/intimate and that "biomom" seems like an object of sorts.

But that is us. 

I wouldn't call her something that is confusing or negates the fact that she isn't a "mommy" to your son.

post #12 of 31

One of my dd had a visit with a half sib and birth mom when she was 5 1/2. I referred to her as "Mommy so and so". DD refused to call her anything except by her 1st name only. They figure it out for themselves. I know it hurt birth moms feelings, but honestly too bad. My dd has to feel comfortable with the situation.

post #13 of 31

As an adoptee I called my bio mom Sandy since reunion 10 years ago.... now I call both of them mom. My friends and those I am talking to generally know which mom I am talking about given the context. If they do not they ask for clarification and I generally say the parents who raised me or my birth or bio mom Sandy.  As a child they called them my biological family but did not know them until I was twenty.

post #14 of 31

 

""Mommy" is an intimate term for someone who is mothering daily."

 

yeahthat.gif

 

Your son is a toddler, which means that you get to choose the language he'll use for his birth mother. If you're dealing with somebody whose boundaries and self-perception are so lacking that she thinks it's OK to appropriate the "Mommy" title, then IMO you need to be all the more proactive about setting your own boundaries. You are the mother, and your son calls you mommy. She is the birth mother, and your son calls her Karen. (Or Miss Karen, or Aunt Karen, or even Mama Karen if you're feeling generous about it.) 

 

If the birth mother's name is not Karen, you should probably modify this approach ;-)

post #15 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithie View Post

 

""Mommy" is an intimate term for someone who is mothering daily."

 

yeahthat.gif

 

Your son is a toddler, which means that you get to choose the language he'll use for his birth mother. If you're dealing with somebody whose boundaries and self-perception are so lacking that she thinks it's OK to appropriate the "Mommy" title, then IMO you need to be all the more proactive about setting your own boundaries. You are the mother, and your son calls you mommy. She is the birth mother, and your son calls her Karen. (Or Miss Karen, or Aunt Karen, or even Mama Karen if you're feeling generous about it.) 

 

If the birth mother's name is not Karen, you should probably modify this approach ;-)


Generous about it?.. I think giving someone your child to raise is a pretty generous act.  The other day when my adad was here visiting he came across some pictures of my bio family. He looked at them. I said do you know who those people are? He said are they biologicals? Not biological family or your relatives or anything like that but  I said yes.He ended the discussion.  He wanted to not discuss it any further.  This was hurtful to me as I would have liked to tell him about them... but he does not want to know. They are all obviously a part of my life and a part of me. I don't know why it has to be one over the other... why I can't love them both and all. Different but the same. They are both my father both my mother. They have played very different roles but both are IMPORTANT without either mother I would not be who I am today.

 

post #16 of 31

 

OP adopted a child from foster care. The birth mother's generosity doesn't enter into it, and yes, it is deeply generous and deeply selfless for the OP to contemplate ongoing contact on any terms. 

post #17 of 31

Seriously? My daughter's birth mother does not lack "boundaries and self-perception" nor does my daughter, or the rest of my family. My daughter does, in her heart, have an intimate relationship with her birth mother although she's only met her once. It's one of my great sadnesses that she lives across a continent and two countries from us.  Like I said much earlier in this thread, I am not at all threatened by the fact that my kid has multiple mothers because it's the truth.  It's not a competition, and my daughter shouldn't have to choose.  Like we say in my home, love is not a pie to be sliced up, but an ocean to swim in. 

 

 

post #18 of 31

I agree that this is soooo not about generosity.  It is about what is best for the child.  I was really comfortable with my daughter calling her birthmother 'mommy firstname."  But many social workers counseled us against it and it was written into our open adoption agreement (without our knowledge) that the birthmorther was never to refer to herself as mother.  Looking back, I am so glad I took the advice.  It was just the first of many times I had to put my foot down and be my daughter's advocate in her relationship with her birthmother.

post #19 of 31


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Emilie2 View Post

Generous about it?.. I think giving someone your child to raise is a pretty generous act.  The other day when my adad was here visiting he came across some pictures of my bio family. He looked at them. I said do you know who those people are? He said are they biologicals? Not biological family or your relatives or anything like that but  I said yes.He ended the discussion.  He wanted to not discuss it any further.  This was hurtful to me as I would have liked to tell him about them... but he does not want to know. They are all obviously a part of my life and a part of me. I don't know why it has to be one over the other... why I can't love them both and all. Different but the same. They are both my father both my mother. They have played very different roles but both are IMPORTANT without either mother I would not be who I am today.

 


One of my dd was born addicted to meth, given back then removed again, given back, removed again the last time when bio mom was smoking meth in the car with her in the car seat behind her while she drove. Showed up for 3 visits in 6 months (Only when she was in state ordered rehab and dd was taken to her) and never showed to court. So ya, I think referring to her as Mommy so and so is very generous. My other 2... Well one was traded for drugs if you get my point, the other has shaken baby. So referring to her as Mommy so and so is VERY VERY generous. Not every child is handed over lovingly at birth

 

post #20 of 31

My bio mom was a meth head and she is still my mom. My adoptive mom was a kindergarten teacher and she too is my mom. they are both my mom.

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