Is my daughter my child, or my adopted child?Comments?
The life insurance form I have to fill out at work wants to know. Choose a beneficiary, and indicate their relationship to you from this drop-down list, it tells me:
I became a mother with two days’ notice. We met our daughter’s birth mother near the very end of her pregnancy, and she chose us to raise her child. We brought our baby home from the hospital, but I didn’t give birth and I wasn’t breastfeeding.
For the first few months, I felt compelled to explain myself to everyone — even to strangers. I felt like an impostor, an interloper into motherhood. I remember thinking that some day it wouldn’t matter any more, that I’d forget I was an adoptive mother and come to be just like everybody else.
It’s been almost nine years now, and I can’t forget that my daughter is adopted. I no longer want to forget, and I know I’m a real mother. I drop my third-grader off at school and go for walks with her and sign off on her homework and cuddle her when she’s hurt and try to answer those penetrating philosophical questions that kids ask only at bedtime. And adoption still matters. It’s not either/or. I am an adoptive mother. I am a real mother. I am not my daughter’s only mother, but I am her mommy, and she is my child. My adopted child.
* * *
Most days I feel good about the way we are together. I have become my child’s mother without denying her heritage, without erasing her origins. So why does this insignificant question on this routine insurance form bother me so much? Why can’t I just check “adopted child” and move on?
I can’t choose one because it’s a false dichotomy. My daughter is adopted, and she is my child. Both of those are true. I don’t want to deny any part of our relationship, even if it is just to answer a bureaucrat’s unthinking question.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Child? or Adopted Child? Please Check One
There's been a bit of a discussion on an adoptive-parent email list-serv I'm on about adoptive parenting as same-as or different-from parenting unmodified. I thought this New York Times article by Jenni Levy spoke interestingly to this issue: