As adoptive parents, can we ever reach a point where we permanently prove our worth to birth parents? If we are perfect enough, can we show them that they made a good choice in placing their child with us and somehow make up for the grief they incurred? Will the birth parents regret their decision if we are not flawless?
These are the questions that haunt me.
A couple of weeks ago we were supposed to get together with Little-Flower’s birth mom and grandma. As you would have it, Turkey-Man ended up getting sick and we had to reschedule. Let me tell you a secret.. I breathed a sigh of relief. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to see her birth family. I have grown to love them as an extension of my own family. No, rather, it was because I would have more time to clean my house.
I absolutely know how ridiculous that sounds, but deep down I am haunted by this sense that maybe if I just make things a little more perfect then I am worthy to have the daughter I love. I know that a placing a child for adoption brings pain. I have a hard time reconciling that one of my greatest joys in life came at the expense of another’s grief. Maybe, just maybe, if I do enough I can be worthy of the grief that has transpired.
After realizing how absurd I was being, I got online. I have a Facebook group that I am a part of that is specifically for open adoption. I posted on there my need to continue to prove to the birth families that they made a good decisions when they placed their child with us. Maybe if I can make them feel like they made a positive choices, I can make up for the grief they feel. I wasn’t sure if this was a common sentiment or if my perfectionistic nature was spinning out of control.
The comments rolled in one by one. “I feel that way, too.” “I feel that way, too.” “I feel that way, too.”… Each comment expressed a similar response. Apparently, I am not alone. Apparently, this is a common chasing that we adoptive parents do.
So, my chase ensues. Mama-D and Grandma-S are coming this weekend. I am trying not to go into a tailspin. Right now between weather and things going on, my weeds are a little out of control. I am not sure when/if I will address that before they get here.
Weeds. Yes, weeds make me worry Mama-D will regret placing Little-Flower with us.
It’s also been a bit since I last cleaned the windows and blinds. The walls might need scrubbed down before they come as well. Maybe, just maybe if our house sparkles, it will be enough.
Then there will be the test of when they actually arrive. Will Little-Flower engage enough? Have I taught her enough? Right now we are working on reading. She can count to 40. Is that okay? Or, will they worry that we are pushing her too hard? What is the right answer in all of this? What if I do the wrong thing and they think they should have never placed Little-Flower with us?
The pressure is very real and immense. All of it is self-inflicted. Neither birth families seem to have any of these expectations that I am compelled to self-impose.
I don’t know if there is ever a right answer. A birth parent’s most likely going to go through an ebb and flow of feelings regarding placing their child. Maybe some of it will have something to do with something the adoptive parents did. Maybe not.
The reality is there is never a point in which we are worthy enough for the human life that we have received. I absolutely believe that my children are a gift from God. He has shown me grace in allowing me to mother them. No matter what I do, I will fall short of deserving them.
We have to start accepting our humanness. At any given point, something is likely to be off. There was only one who lived on this earth perfectly. We are not him. Perfectionistic parenting is not healthy. Our children need to see us as real. They need to see us struggle and overcome.
Our birth parents need that too. One mom from the Facebook post I did said that when her child’s birth mom decided to parent the next time she was pregnant, she felt like she needed to make another adoption plan because she could never measure up to how perfect the adoptive mom was. All of the perfection made it hard for her to feel like she could measure up.
I wish I could gift wrap this into a nice ending, but there are no easy drawstrings here. The chase will likely continue for those of us who carry the title “Adoptive Mom.” Maybe someday we all can realize how common that pressure is and learn to give it up. Maybe we can be content with being human.
I write all of these words and I’d like to say I’ll start that now, but I have some walls, windows, and weeds to address… Maybe next time.
I am not an adoptive parent, but I have those same questions about my worthiness to be a parent: I know I’ve made a lot of mistakes in parenting my kids and that some of my weaknesses are now being reproduced in my children’s lives. My oldest children are young adults now, and it is hard to not beat myself up for not having this or that thing better along the way. It sounds like you are trying as hard as you possibly can to be a good mother, and, most of all, you love your children unconditionally.
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Perhaps all this comparing to others and to self imposed high standards does more harm than good. As well, we ought not think of children as the property of their parents, birth or adoptive. Birth parents who have given their child up for adoption must tread lightly as regards their child and his/her adoptive parents.
It definitely does more harm than good. I easily admit to that, though I have always been perfectionistic and it’s hard to accept less.
I don’t think we, nor their birth parents, look at our children as property. It’s hard to put words to being given the gift of motherhood. It’s a gift, but certainly not property. Hopefully, that makes sense!
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From the perspective of being an adoptee- what if you start looking at the visits through your child’s eyes? Instead of apposing judgment upon yourself (which only will continue to weigh you down), what if you see the excitement, nervousness, hesitancy, joy, or whatever emotion your daughter experiences when she interacts with her birth mom? It will help you understand adoption more fully, and you will be able to explain things to your daughter as she gets older. Give yourself some grace, you are taking care of a precious life, and you don’t need to be perfect to do so.. because we are humans and no one is perfect.
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