Courage, strength, being a “real” mom

I have mentioned my young friend more than once on this blog. She’s an absolute jewel. The past couple of months she has been working hard in training for and is now at her job as customer service rep, got her drivers’ license, and purchased a hideous looking but mechanically sound vehicle (1994 Honda Civic). Last weekend she moved from her rented room situation into a 1-bedroom apartment of her own. It’s basically empty except for the new bed she purchased, but furniture will come.

From being kicked out of the house at 15, she has finished course work to be a high school graduate, worked multiple jobs and lived with multiple roommates in sketchy neighborhoods while attending college to better herself, and found herself pregnant and carried the baby to term and gave him up for adoption. To say she has been through a lot in her years on earth (she is only 22) would be an understatement.

M and I are enormously proud of her and thrilled to consider her a full fledged member of our family tribe.

This afternoon she called me about the baby (given up for adoption) and his upcoming first birthday (August 9). She has remained close to and is very friendly with his parents, traveling to see them last year and staying in regular contact via phone, text, email, and Facebook. For the most part this has been a good and very positive thing.

There is an expectation that she will be attending the baby’s party over labor day weekend, and with her new job and working at stablizing herself, she does not feel it’s financially prudent for her to go. When she explained that to the parents, they generously offered to pay her expenses. After more thought and conversation, she feels close to this family, but not quite to the point of accepting this level of continued generosity. She loves the baby and looks forward to seeing him, yet it’s not now nor has it ever been a desperation to see “her” baby. She understands and has completely processed that she gave him up for adoption and is now part of another family, far from her day-to-day life. The bond they share is unique, yet she would not be especially hurt if excluded in his milestone events growing up. There was counseling associated with the adoption process, and she took it to heart.

I see nothing wrong with her thinking or her feelings. In fact, I think she’s very grown-up and mature to be able to articulate them so clearly, the natural boundary evolving between herself – the birth mother – the baby she delivered, and the happy family where he belongs and will grow up.

From what she said and the stress in her voice, there is some pressure and some guilting from the parents. I have not talked to them myself, but in this situation I do not need to know their thinking or feelings. I know they mean well; I know they are grateful for their child and caring toward my friend. However, I also know she is growing up, growing away and into her own life. Putting some distance between herself and this family seems like a natural transition from my perspective, the never adopted, not adopted, know no one else who has adopted this way. My thoughts and feelings are always for my young friend to take care of herself first and foremost.

On the phone she broke down in tears fearing she lacks maternal instinct, that she’ll never be a “real” mom because she does not feel that way about this baby. It breaks my heart when she says things like that; she has no idea how truly caring and courageous she truly is in so many real, tangible ways. I pep-talked her: her feelings are normal; she will be a fantastic mom when the time is right and she is ready for a child of her own; she’s come so far, doing so well, is strong and courageous and generous and so much kinder, nicer, better than she even realizes. Yet.

I got her calmed down, the tears stopped, some resolution to do what is best for her, and changing her mind was okay, too. No word yet on a final decision, but whatever it is, it will be the right one for her. Of this, I have unwavering faith.

Whatever quality it is that makes a “real” mom, I am certain she has it and look forward to watching it manifest and grow when she has children of her own. I am also sure I have the “mom gene” as well (despite my despising those who divide women into the have/have nots of the mommy class). And today, I am grateful to be reminded that I did and do okay (sometimes better than okay) with all my kids.

2 thoughts on “Courage, strength, being a “real” mom

  1. I’m adopted so here is my opinion. Your young friend gave the parents and her baby boy a huge gift. A child for someone who couldn’t have one but truly wanted one and a secure future for her son. With the additional gift of knowing that she is always there/has some link so if something went horribly wrong she could help if possible. Her feelings are very natural and she shouldn’t think she won’t have “motherly” instincts – she already has amazing instincts – she put the benefit for her baby above her own needs. It would be great if she could do a couple more visits were she initially got counseling after the adoption about the best way to lengthen but maintain the relationship with the adopting family. The family too is likely struggling with what the “right” contact is and they will all muddle through together by being honest and kind to each other and respectful of feelings. Best of luck to your friend – sounds like things are really coming together for her – how awesome is that!

    • Thanks, SAK! She had a really honest conversation with them last night and they were sad but understanding and supportive. I think since they are not here or chatting with her all the time about the small changes in her life and times they think of her as struggling and sort of stuck in a crappy little apartment with multiple roommates. They are very nice people – we got to meet and spend time with them when they came out to visit during her pregnancy – and I truly believe they just want to make sure she knows how priceless that baby is to them.

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