How do I give a name to a birth mom that a foster child does not know as their mom? - Page 3 - Mothering Forums
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#61 of 72 Old 02-17-2012, 03:05 PM
 
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I don't really think you can do anything nor should do anything to prohibit your adoptive children to question their histories. It's not a bad thing to wonder where you come from?  I mean really.  Why would this even be something to try to avoid?  WHo would not want to know?  I know there are some that say they don't care- and that's their choice but from where I am sitting- that comes from fear of hurting their adoptive parents and not really being true to themselves. You know- the kids who have adoptive parents with attitudes like Smithies. the kids that end up in therapy- for years saying my adoption does not matter... my adoption does not matter.... only to find out- in the end- that yes- it does matter.

BTW- I just described my experience.  I had issues for years and was in therapy- and never ever thought my adoption could be the root- and it was.

The time I wasted pretending it did not matter is ridiculous.


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#62 of 72 Old 02-17-2012, 07:35 PM
 
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Originally Posted by heatherdeg View Post

 

Sorry, but that's also the job of the foster parents.  No matter what the age.  You prepare them to return by helping them heal the hurts around it.  Even a toddler.

 

 



yeahthat.gif  And I think it bears saying that it is hard for some people, because we are all human and get mixed up in it.  I was one of those.  But if that's the case, then you really need to re-evaluate your purposes for fostering.  If permanency is more what you're seeking, then straight adoption may be better for you.  For us, we realized that we were struggling with accepting the "fostering" side of things and that it potentially complicated our last case.  I could state the reasons, which seemed valid to us at the time, but it doesn't matter.  Truth is, we were able to recognize our limitations and realize that there are other ways to help children struggling with abuse and neglect.  For us, we allowed our license to run out, did not choose to renew and take a placement, and instead I've been approved as a volunteer for our local child abuse and neglect council.  Fostering isn't for everyone, and I think this is at the core of it.  In our state, for example, there's such a need for foster parents that during our training and licensing, I really feel that they underplayed this point. 


 

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#63 of 72 Old 02-18-2012, 05:32 AM
 
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I don't really think you can do anything nor should do anything to prohibit your adoptive children to question their histories.

 

Um, of course not? This is another example of what I was saying earlier about taking each other’s viewpoints to the most extreme possible end – although I don’t know how anybody could get that from my words with any amount of effort. I don’t believe in adoption being a secret, or in children being shut down when they ask questions about their origins. In terms of actual behavior (as opposed to ideology), nothing that any of the amoms have described doing with their own kids in this thread has seemed anything but great to me. Not all of it is what I’d personally choose for my own family – for instance, I do not believe in direct contact between adopted minor children and their first parents when the first parents have abused or neglected them. I think that’s a choice that adopted folks who are abuse/neglect survivors need to make in adulthood, when they are acting as their own agents. But that’s my OPINION, not Holy Writ, and is certainly not an endorsement of keeping adoption a secret, or withholding information or pictures or avoiding conversations.

 

What got me going here was the advice the OP (who is long gone, apparently) was given by multiple people to call her foster son’s mother “Mama Firstname” even though he was specifically and repeatedly rejecting the Mama title for this woman. Absent further context, this is just terrible and hurtful advice. It won’t make him attach to his biomom  - it will just make him feel rejected by the mother he lives with now, the only one woman can consciously remember being parented by. Now, if further context revaled that the OP was imminently expecting her foster son to transition back to his birth parents, then yes, maybe the situation is so dire that she needs to push the Mama title right now so that it won’t be an occasion of anger and jealousy and conflict during the RU. But the OP didn’t state that. There has to be something that she can do to help build a bond between her foster son and his birth family that doesn't require ignoring a very little person's feelings to extent of denying him the right to identify his mother. She can start somewhere else, unless he is being sent back very, very soon. 

 

As is always the case when I defy some aspect the party line on these issues, several people have passive-aggressively suggested that I shouldn’t foster, shouldn’t adopt, am not foster/adopting for the right reasons, etc. This is breathtakingly inappropriate, and it’s not something I’d ever do to any of you, even when your approach to things doesn’t mesh with mine. Cut it out.  

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#64 of 72 Old 02-18-2012, 06:36 AM
 
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Quote:
What got me going here was the advice the OP (who is long gone, apparently) was given by multiple people to call her foster son’s mother “Mama Firstname” even though he was specifically and repeatedly rejecting the Mama title for this woman. Absent further context, this is just terrible and hurtful advice. It won’t make him attach to his biomom  - it will just make him feel rejected by the mother he lives with now, the only one woman can consciously remember being parented by. Now, if further context revaled that the OP was imminently expecting her foster son to transition back to his birth parents, then yes, maybe the situation is so dire that she needs to push the Mama title right now so that it won’t be an occasion of anger and jealousy and conflict during the RU. But the OP didn’t state that. There has to be something that she can do to help build a bond between her foster son and his birth family that doesn't require ignoring a very little person's feelings to extent of denying him the right to identify his mother. She can start somewhere else, unless he is being sent back very, very soon

He's a little kid. Little kids get confused by a lot of things but if the OP handles it gently, he'll come to understand. Repeated hearings of "you have two mommies. You live here with me and (whomever lives in the house with the child) but you have another mommy. You grew in her tummy but she wasn't able to take care of a baby" will normalize it for him.

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#65 of 72 Old 02-18-2012, 06:55 AM
 
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the bolded below- how is that now?  I don't see how you can conclude that by establishing another "mom" figure would somehow diminish her role as mom and lead to him feeling rejected by her.  That's just you opinion, not based on anything other than, your opinion.  And to address the "void" that you seem to ignore exists (your words "what void- what does that even mean?") I'd like to share a quote from a very popular and scientifically based adoption book concerning this" void"  "Ignoring early identity issues is equivalent to leaving a chasm between you and your child.  Adult adoptees refer to this original and unbridged chasm when they talk about what their adoptive parents never understood".  Even babies brains are changed by adoption, when they are taken away from the only voice they've heard for 9 months in the womb, and those vital hormones released between mom and baby to bond them at birth are taken away when the baby is placed in another woman's arms.  The child's age is irrelevant.  This idea that the "void" is only there if the child says it's there is false.  You have no studies to prove your viewpoint.  For the record, I would never say that you shouldn't foster or adopt, however I don't think you share the viewpoint that is taught in very basic adoption classes and experts in the field concerning how to address a child's past and his past caregivers.  Anybody giving a child a safe and loving home is a hero in my opinion, including you.  I just hope you would consider the points being discussed here, because just as you have concluded that everyone's advice would be "terrible and hurtful" to the child, your choice to follow the child's lead when it comes to his past (not ignoring it, I didn't say that, I said following the child's lead, in this example, you think the child shouldn't have to refer to his bio mom as a mom figure), could just as well be "terrible and hurtful" in the long-term, even if it truly makes sense in your mind. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithie View Post

 

I don't really think you can do anything nor should do anything to prohibit your adoptive children to question their histories.

 

Um, of course not? This is another example of what I was saying earlier about taking each other’s viewpoints to the most extreme possible end – although I don’t know how anybody could get that from my words with any amount of effort. I don’t believe in adoption being a secret, or in children being shut down when they ask questions about their origins. In terms of actual behavior (as opposed to ideology), nothing that any of the amoms have described doing with their own kids in this thread has seemed anything but great to me. Not all of it is what I’d personally choose for my own family – for instance, I do not believe in direct contact between adopted minor children and their first parents when the first parents have abused or neglected them. I think that’s a choice that adopted folks who are abuse/neglect survivors need to make in adulthood, when they are acting as their own agents. But that’s my OPINION, not Holy Writ, and is certainly not an endorsement of keeping adoption a secret, or withholding information or pictures or avoiding conversations.

 

What got me going here was the advice the OP (who is long gone, apparently) was given by multiple people to call her foster son’s mother “Mama Firstname” even though he was specifically and repeatedly rejecting the Mama title for this woman. Absent further context, this is just terrible and hurtful advice. It won’t make him attach to his biomom  - it will just make him feel rejected by the mother he lives with now, the only one woman can consciously remember being parented by. Now, if further context revaled that the OP was imminently expecting her foster son to transition back to his birth parents, then yes, maybe the situation is so dire that she needs to push the Mama title right now so that it won’t be an occasion of anger and jealousy and conflict during the RU. But the OP didn’t state that. There has to be something that she can do to help build a bond between her foster son and his birth family that doesn't require ignoring a very little person's feelings to extent of denying him the right to identify his mother. She can start somewhere else, unless he is being sent back very, very soon. 

 

As is always the case when I defy some aspect the party line on these issues, several people have passive-aggressively suggested that I shouldn’t foster, shouldn’t adopt, am not foster/adopting for the right reasons, etc. This is breathtakingly inappropriate, and it’s not something I’d ever do to any of you, even when your approach to things doesn’t mesh with mine. Cut it out.  



 

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#66 of 72 Old 02-18-2012, 08:36 AM
 
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" I don't see how you can conclude that by establishing another "mom" figure would somehow diminish her role as mom and lead to him feeling rejected by her."

 

I don't think it would. I think the specific method suggested by several people (not following his lead with terminology) would have that effect - not the more general goal of knowing his birthmom, establishing a bond with his birthmom, and being prepared to go and live with his birthmom at some point. "No, SHE'S your mommy too, we call her Mommy X" is not an approach that meets the child where he's at (according to the info the OP gave). Despite everything else that people are trying to tack on to my stance, THAT'S my opinion and the advice I gave was not "erase the birthmother" or "pretend that origins don't matter" but "be very cautious about how you mess around with the mom-label when your newly verbal child is expressing strong feelings on the issue." 

 

Now, if this particular foster kid had heard Beth's "you have two mommies" spiel consistently for the past year, then he'd likely not be having a problem with it at this point. To that extent, I DO agree with the party line - if I were fostering an infant I would do EXACTLY that. But without more context, we can't know if the OP was in a position a year ago where that was the clear best option. The child may not have come into care from his mother's home. He may have never even been alone in a room with his mother. It may be that the OP's priority was maintaining a bond with another caregiver (grandma/dad/aunt), and that RU with mom is a new wrinkle in the case plan. 

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#67 of 72 Old 02-18-2012, 08:53 AM
 
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I agree that without further information it is hard to know the best approach.  This is all so hard to being with, especially with foster care and not knowing the child's future.  
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithie View Post

" I don't see how you can conclude that by establishing another "mom" figure would somehow diminish her role as mom and lead to him feeling rejected by her."

 

I don't think it would. I think the specific method suggested by several people (not following his lead with terminology) would have that effect - not the more general goal of knowing his birthmom, establishing a bond with his birthmom, and being prepared to go and live with his birthmom at some point. "No, SHE'S your mommy too, we call her Mommy X" is not an approach that meets the child where he's at (according to the info the OP gave). Despite everything else that people are trying to tack on to my stance, THAT'S my opinion and the advice I gave was not "erase the birthmother" or "pretend that origins don't matter" but "be very cautious about how you mess around with the mom-label when your newly verbal child is expressing strong feelings on the issue." 

 

Now, if this particular foster kid had heard Beth's "you have two mommies" spiel consistently for the past year, then he'd likely not be having a problem with it at this point. To that extent, I DO agree with the party line - if I were fostering an infant I would do EXACTLY that. But without more context, we can't know if the OP was in a position a year ago where that was the clear best option. The child may not have come into care from his mother's home. He may have never even been alone in a room with his mother. It may be that the OP's priority was maintaining a bond with another caregiver (grandma/dad/aunt), and that RU with mom is a new wrinkle in the case plan. 



 


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#68 of 72 Old 02-18-2012, 09:12 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithie View Post

" I don't see how you can conclude that by establishing another "mom" figure would somehow diminish her role as mom and lead to him feeling rejected by her."

 

I don't think it would. I think the specific method suggested by several people (not following his lead with terminology) would have that effect - not the more general goal of knowing his birthmom, establishing a bond with his birthmom, and being prepared to go and live with his birthmom at some point. "No, SHE'S your mommy too, we call her Mommy X" is not an approach that meets the child where he's at (according to the info the OP gave). Despite everything else that people are trying to tack on to my stance, THAT'S my opinion and the advice I gave was not "erase the birthmother" or "pretend that origins don't matter" but "be very cautious about how you mess around with the mom-label when your newly verbal child is expressing strong feelings on the issue." 

 

 

 

 

 

In fact, what you said was "Your foster son has already made this decision for you. You are his mother, the woman who gave birth to him is not. Call her by her name. " (bolding mine)

 

Its possible that the issue is less the child having identity issues and trying to assert who "the real mom" is in his mind, and rather just good old-fashioned toddler stubbornness.

 

if the child is having visits with bmom, you do realize dont you that just about EVERYONE that child comes into contact with is going to call bmom "mommy" ?? Rather than avoid the issue by "following the child's lead" maybe the OP could at least *attempt* other mom labels.

 

We do it in just about every other aspect of parenting...if a child doesnt want his hair brushed, or doesnt want to take a nap, or doesnt want to eat his veggies, or share his toys or whatever else usually parents try lots of options that fall between "let it go" and "force him to bend to your will"...it really doesnt have to be so black and white.


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#69 of 72 Old 02-18-2012, 09:17 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithie View Post

 

Now, if this particular foster kid had heard Beth's "you have two mommies" spiel consistently for the past year, then he'd likely not be having a problem with it at this point. To that extent, I DO agree with the party line - if I were fostering an infant I would do EXACTLY that.


Would you? because that is not the impression i got at all from what you've posted in this thread. You've stated over and over that mothering is a role,  "mom is a job description" that a woman who gives birth to a child does not make her a mother, that a child who isnt actively being parented by a woman would not and should not view her as "mom" etc etc. So if you were in the OPs position, and you were given, say, a six or eight month old baby to foster....what would you call yourself? what would you call the legal mother? would that change if the fostering turned into an adoption? i would assume that the OP was calling bmom SOMETHING before now, so what term did she use? is the child's resistance new?

 


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#70 of 72 Old 02-18-2012, 07:02 PM
 
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If you don't get that impression, then you are choosing not to get that impression, and there's not much else I can say to change your mind.

I DO believe that "mother" is a job description, and that's one reason I don't sign up to foster infants. I'm not going to tell a child something that I believe is a lie. I think the OP's foster son is telling the plain truth as he sees it, based on his life experience. But if I were in a situation where I was strongly pressured to foster an infant (addiction in my family, etc.), then I would tell the lie with a clear conscience, because it would be in the best interest of the child to be as prepared as humanly possible for a reunification.

With older kids, this just does not come up. Except in very unusual situations where they were taken away at birth and have spent years in care without being adopted, they already have clearly established parent-figures, that person is usually the birthmother, and if their mothers are very toxic, then that's their cross to bear. I am sorry for it, but I do not have the power to change it. A safe and stable life in my house is the consolation prize. I'm OK with walking into that situation, but I do not think I'll ever take chance on CREATING that situation by parenting an infant in foster care. I'm gad that there are people who are willing to do it, but it's not for me.
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#71 of 72 Old 03-06-2012, 08:13 PM
 
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I was recently reunited with my now 22 yo daughter.  I left the hospital without her, so other than the care I took of her while I was pregnant and the couple days in the hospital I really had nothing to do with her upbringing.  I am eternally grateful that her 'real' parents did a great job, and she is happy and healthy.  I am especially grateful that they involved me as much as they could in her life - altho it was a closed adoption, she had a picture of me in her room, they told her what they knew about me, passed on gifts that I had sent etc.  I wouldn't dream of trying to downplay the enormous role they have played in her life, or the importance of their relationship.  However, I did the best job of parenting I could at the time when I made the decision to let her find a happier place to live, and there is a special bond that we have as we discover almost eerie similarities between us, things that she has never had anyone to relate to over.  I would hope that any adoptive or foster parent would be respectful of this bond, it clearly means a lot to my daughter.  It would be a shame if she were denied the chance of enjoying having someone who she could relate to in such a simple biological way. 

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#72 of 72 Old 03-06-2012, 10:26 PM
 
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Thanks for sharing Jen- good to see all members of the triad here!!!  I too found the little things so important and to be BIG things with my biological mother!


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