Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Name? Or is it a Label?

I have come to realize that there are many different names by which people choose to call the woman who gave birth to them or to the child they adopted. I have even occasionally found myself somewhat caught up in the great terminology debate. As a child and young teenager I would often refer to my natural mom as my "real" mom. Not to take anything away from my adoptive was just the easiest way for me to distinguish between the two if I ever found myself in a conversation about my adoption. I must have eventually realized how demeaning such a term could be to my adoptive parents because at some point I began referring to my natural mom as my "biological" mom. It made sense to me...I was connected to her through biology so naturally she was my biological mom. And then I began the adoption process.

In the adoption classes DH and I attended we learned that the "proper" way to refer to a natural mom is to call her a "birth" mom. Again, this sort of made sense. She gave birth to the baby (me) so it seemed perfectly acceptable and appropriate to refer to her as birth mom. As you can see in my early posts on this blog, I embraced the term birth mom, even shortening it for the sake of writing, to b-Mom.

However, I soon realized that even the term "birth" mom resulted in negating a very important person's role in the whole adoption process. By simply calling her "birth" mom I am merely giving her credit for the birth. I am taking away from the effort she put into protecting me and raising me for 9 months while in her womb. I am also taking away from the natural instinct she felt as a parent...that instinct to nurture me, love me, and then make the hardest decision she probably ever made in her life. I am taking away from the grief she felt in making such a decision due to her natural connection to ME! Thus, I chose to begin referring to this very important woman, both in relation to me and to the child I am adopting (C), as our "natural" mom. And this feels a LITTLE better to me, but not entirely right either.

You see, I have decided that the only thing any of these names do is LABEL a person! A person to whom I have a very personal and direct connection. And it seems so IMpersonal and cold to constantly refer to someone using a label. I feel the same way when speaking about people of a different race or culture. Why must a person's position always be labeled? Why can't a person just be a person? We don't refer to the Moms of children NOT placed for adoption as "natural" mom or "birth" mom or "real" mom. Just...MOM! So why must we do so when referring to a child's mother...the woman who sustained life and then bore that life into the world? It seems preposterous to me. And I refuse to participate in it any longer.

From this point forward, when referring to C's Mom I will use her NAME!!! Because you know what?! SHE HAS A NAME and in order to honor her and her memory in her daughter's life I MUST refer to her using her name! When speaking of my own "natural" Mom, since I do not have a name, I will call her my Mom. I owe her that much. She loved me enough to give ME a name and to care for me for 2 years. In doing something so simple as calling her my Mom, I at least recognize those sacrifices she made as my Mom, if even for a short time.

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