It is incredibly common for children and adults who have been adopted to feel a sense of guilt and responsibility for their adoptive parents’ feelings regarding their birth family. When this question is asked, it typically relates to an adoptive mother’s feelings being hurt due to her child seeking a relationship with the birth family or a member of it. There is a fine line between feeling obligated to protect your adoptive mother’s feelings and the desire to have a relationship with your birth family. However, it is important that your adoptive mother also has to understand that she has an obligation to your feelings as well. Here are some key points to remember when navigating this fine line.
1. One Does Not Negate the Other
One of the most common fears and misconceptions that adoptive parents can have is the fear that a birth parent will “replace” them. They may also fear that you will like or feel more connected to your birth parents. While this fear is understandable, it is important that they understand and that you also understand that a birth parent will not replace your adoptive mother anymore than your adoptive mother was a replacement for your birth parent. The relationship you have with each will be completely different. You likely don’t have the same relationship with your mom as you do with your dad or your aunt. I have a different relationship with each one of my children. You choosing to have a relationship with your birth family is in no way a slap in the face to your adoptive mother’s motherhood.
2. Open Up to Your Mother
In regards to what you should do if you end up hurting your adoptive mom’s feelings, it is important to lay it all out on the line. Many times, parents just need reassurance. Though they may be mature adults, even adults have feelings and egos to cope with. Though it may not be their intention to be hurt by your need for relationship with your birth family, it is human nature to feel jealous from time to time. If you sense your mom is struggling, a little reassurance can go a long way. She may realize she is hurt or feeling fearful for nothing.
3. Her Pride is Not Your Problem
This may be the harshest of all of the key points, but it is vital to internalize that your adoptive mother’s pride is not your problem. That does not mean you can’t feel for her. That does not mean that you cannot provide her reassurance. However, you have no obligation to have your actions governed by her emotions—especially when those emotions are coming from a place of pride or jealousy. Your identity is yours to navigate if and when you choose. Your adoption story is yours, beginning to end. It never feels good to hurt someone’s feelings, especially your mother’s. However, sometimes it is simply unavoidable. Though you can provide reassurance to your mother, her feelings are something she will need to wrestle with on her own. When the feelings are hurt due to a journey you need to take, you cannot be the one who feels obligated to support her through her emotions.
Adoption is a beautiful journey with an incredible amount of twists and turns. The valleys you will go through can be steep and harrowing. Having to reconcile your desire for biological connection and identity with the fear of hurting your mother is difficult. However, it is also not fair to you in the least. You have to take your own journey, in your own time, in your own way, and your family will have to deal with the emotion that comes to them throughout that journey.
Lita Jordan is a master of all things “home.” A work-from-home, stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of five. She has a BA in Youth Ministry from Spring Arbor University. She is married to the “other Michael Jordan” and lives on coffee and its unrealistic promises of productivity. Lita enjoys playing guitar and long trips to Target. Follow her on <a href=”https://www.facebook.com/halfemptymom/”>Facebook.</a>