This guest post is by Kathy Rau, an adoptive mother.
My youngest son discovered this summer that he had a love for running. My husband, a runner, was very pleased because our other boys had pursued judo and wrestling.
“J”, my youngest, joined a running group this past spring and three months later he competed in the AAU Junior Olympics for Track and Field.
One evening my husband asked me if I thought we should invite “J’s” birth mom to one of his events. My immediate answer was no.
I had a quick flash of anxiety and stress which quickly switched to mom guilt. Why was I so adamant about excluding her in the celebrations of his accomplishments? I needed time to process my feelings.
A bit of background: “J” hasn’t seen his birth mom since he was a toddler. We had hoped to maintain a relationship with her but early on we struggled with boundary issues and behaviors that were detrimental to “J”.
His birth mom wanted to have sleepovers right after the (closed) adoption was finalized, which was not the best scenario. There were family members living with her that were known drug users.
Early on “J” was diagnosed with smoke induced asthma. His birth mom’s family continued to smoke around him, even after the county had forbidden them to do so. So unfortunately, we had to sever ties and have not reconnected since.
The day after I had the conversation with my husband about inviting “J’ birth mom to one of his races I sat down and really evaluated my feelings.
Was I being selfish? I needed to stop and consider his feelings, long term, and my own. I came to the conclusion that I was very secure in my relationship with my son and he was at an age to offer us insight on his feelings.
When “J” got home from school that day I sat down with him. I told him how proud we were of his accomplishments. I asked how he felt about reaching out to his birth mom so she could see him compete.
He looked at me and in the most mature 10-year-old voice said “No mom, I am not ready for that relationship”. Wow! I was extremely proud of him for articulating his feelings. He told me what I needed to hear.
I don’t know how other adoptive parents feel about their relationships with their children’s birth families, but I feel mom guilt.
I get all the hugs and kisses. I get to care for my kids when they are sick. I get to wash their laundry after a hard day of play. I get to celebrate birthdays and holidays.
I get to see the world through their eyes. I get to teach them right from wrong. I get to make choices that affect their lives. I get to love them. I get to be mom. All of these milestones come at a price for the birth mom.
I know my role as mom and and am so grateful another woman gave me such a beautiful gift. I will remember this and hope to return the gift by doing my very best for our child.
I will explore my feelings each and every day. I will also make sure to consider my sons’ feelings and help him understand them because at the end of the day he is the most important piece in all of this.
Kathy Rau lives in historic Fredericksburg, Virginia and is raising four children with her husband, Mark. For over 20 years, Kathy was a Licensed Veterinary Technician. She recently retired to spend more time advocating for her children and their needs. She is also a guest writer at The Mighty and Her View From Home. You can find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.
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