What? You didn’t know it was Listen to Your Mother season? I know, I know, I’ve been in hibernation her all spring. LTYM: Indianapolis is only one of the reasons why. I’m posting what I read Sunday on a new computer, in a new house. Yeah, it’s been a busy 10 weeks or so.
In short, this year’s Listen to Your Mother; Indianapolis show was outstanding. The cast took the audience on an amazing journey. I always take it as a good sign when strangers come up to me after the show and make it a point to tell me how much they loved it. My friends kind of have to. But people I don’t know aren’t even required to make eye contact. Yet they do, year after year.
Here’s my piece, which opened the show. Video coming in July.
Real Moms. written and read by Michelle McNally
“You’re not my real mom.”
As an adoptive parent, those words could have sliced right through me. But I’ll be honest- they never have.
It started several years ago with a phone call from my daughter’s teacher.
“Yesterday your daughter said something, and I wanted to let you know…”
These are words the mom of a vocal first grader doesn’t really want to hear. Had she repeated the phrase I used when I stepped on a sharp toy? Had she announced my true feelings about the last school board meeting? The possibilities were endless.
“She came in yesterday talking about how you weren’t her real mom.”
“Oh yesterday morning? We were talking about her birth mother, Jane, on the way to school. That’s probably how it came up.”
“She mentioned that she grew in someone else’s tummy, so you aren’t her real mom.” Maybe it’s because I’ve known my children’s birth mother since my daughter was born. A few weeks before, really. I know it has something to do with the fact that without their birth mother, I wouldn’t be a mother at all. I can’t take away a single thing from the woman who spent 18 months of her life nurturing my children in utero.
Maybe it’s because if I don’t acknowledge their adoptions, no one would. Without one of us mentioning it, our family “passes” as biological. My husband is a red head. My daughter is a red head. I have blue eyes, my son has blue eyes. My kids are off-the-charts tall, and the common reaction to learning their ages is, “Oh, well, you’re tall- is your husband tall too?”
The only thing that is slightly weird is that my husband and I are both left handed. Our kids are both right handed. They don’t stand a chance in most sports because of this, but we’ve taught one of them to tie her shoes. I know how we approach their adoptions set the tone for how they approach their adoptions.
The other day I offered my son a sip of my drink & he commented that he didn’t want my germs. I said, hey, we’re family, you already have my germs. My daughter chimed in with, “actually, we have Jane’s germ, don’t we?” “Why, yes, yes you do. But when people live together, they tend to share germs too.” I could have brought up that she eagerly had take a swig of my diet coke just the night before, but I didn’t. As my daughter processes what it means to be adopted, I don’t dismiss her questions and concerns.
Instead, I listen. I listen as she talks about what it means to have, as she puts it, “ two moms”. I listen when she talks about the brothers she doesn’t live with, and the biological grandparents she knows, and the ones that she doesn’t.
I tell her what led her dad and I to the adoption agency. I tell her what I know about what led Jane to the same adoption agency, at roughly the time we were home studied approved.
I let her know when I text Jane. Over the course of ten years, we’ve gotten to know each other pretty well. We chat about day to day things, and talk about our kids. Having my children’s medical history just one text away is gift I know many adopted people don’t get to have.
She’s come to expect Jane to be on our Girl Scout Cookie sales team, and she knows we always visit at Christmas time. She knows Jane’s favorite color, her favorite Disney character and her favorite animal. When she decides she likes something, she doesn’t have to wonder if Jane likes the same thing, because she can just ask her. This kind of connection to her birth mother is again, something that most adopted people only dream of having. It’s at my daughter’s fingertips.
Adoption made me a mom. I can’t pretend it isn’t there, and I can’t pretend that some roles are more important than others in our adoption triad. I’ve been entrusted to facilitate my children’s relationship with Jane and their birth families,
because it is how our family has been made. That’s just as much my job as teaching them to read and a ride a bike.
Sometimes people ask if I wish it was different. If I wish we hadn’t specifically sought an open adoption. The answer is a resounding NO.
I can’t imagine motherhood any other way.I treasure the open adoption part just as much as every other part of motherhood, and I treasure being her one of her two moms.