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A less pristine experience.

03 March 2017, by We Are Family

A less pristine experience. - Slippers

I was struck by a weekend away with some friends recently when it slowly dawned on me that in their eyes, my status as a mother was way below their own as ‘biological’ parents. The experience hurt and surprised me. I had expected that there would be lots to catch up on and share between us all about being new parents but it quickly became clear to me that in their eyes I was in a very separate camp to them. There was an element of pity and fear for the future when the subject of my son came up and an absence of the sheer joy I had expressed out the birth of their daughter. Maybe I’m being unfair. Maybe it was not pity but uneasiness. They simply didn’t know how to talk about and enjoy my adoptive motherhood in the same way that they did their own.

Why I wonder does adoption do this to people?

The birth of a child into a family is generally marked with cards and unfettered celebration from family and friends, but as new adoptive parents we don't seem to warrant this. Some of our friends and relatives don't know how to behave around us and it makes me sad. Not just for us as parents but for our children too because surely they will pick up on it in some way.

Comments

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  • Alison

    I think there's a problem with the new website. Every time I press "continue reading" I get the comments page and cannot see the rest of the blog. Sorry this isn't a comment on the actual blog. I was enjoying reading it and wanted to continue. Thanks.

    • Angela

      Thanks so much for letting us know. I will look into it!

  • Anon

    You are not alone. Many people were "supportive," but my welcome into motherhood was nothing like my sister, who just gave birth to my parents' first biological grandchild. My family didn't even send a card, only a few people came to my shower (my mother didn't even come). It was heartbreaking and 3 years later it still aches. I've just had to accept it, reluctantly. There's so much of this journey that requires us to be more gracious than folks deserve, IMO.

    • Anon

      I completely agree with your last sentence! I bet it still hurts. I'm sorry to read about your experience too.

  • Anon

    I have heard similar heart-breaking stories of the difference that particular new grandparents make.
    My experience was different. Both grandmothers completely rose to the occasion. And my mother says there is no difference in her love for her biological children and for our daughter. I believe her.
    But I didn't feel like a mother for ages. And that was a very difficult feeling for me. I particular felt intimidated by the foster mother.

  • Anon

    Oh how that rings a chord for me. It was horrible the way particularly the grandparents did not treat our adoption process as equally hard to pregnancy (!....) try the adoption process. It's a breeze yes?..... and then on arrival of our child into the family it's always felt like she is not quite the full member but it has got easier with time
    I think people are generally scared of anything they are ignorant of-adoption, cancer, disability to name a few
    It's tedious. But with the help of WAF and generally educating our closest friends and keeping adoptive families close, things are becoming more natural

  • Kathryn

    I do agree that there is a sense that it is not the same, which it isn't, but therefore somehow inferior! I found that in our village we had lots of support from the wider community, people I barely knew sent cards and a few people approached me regarding being adopted or having adopted or fostered children within their family and they were all very positive and supportive. Within the immediate family, especially my son's new grandparents, they were rather disappointing. I too felt the contrast between the interest and support that their birth grandchildren had created and the low key response to our new arrival. I was hurt and I think it has coloured my relationship with my Dad to the extent that I feel I have detached emotionally from him to some degree so that it doesn't hurt so much that he was not there for me when my son arrived. I don't think he is aware of it, it is not a rift at all, I just feel differently towards him. Equally with my husband's parents, they were supportive in theory but in practise didn't actually put any effort in to meet him and continued to wax lyrical about the marvellous intelligence and talents of their other grandchildren! However when I look back on it, it is 10 years since we adopted my son, I probably wasn't that receptive either. I was very preoccupied by the process which of course they didn't understand. I was very anxious about keeping to his routine as inherited from his foster mother and very dependant on my social worker for reassurance and approval. I didn't discuss any of my concerns or worries with either my Mother in Law or my step mother, so maybe they felt shut out. Now my MIL has died I miss her and wish I had been more confiding and my step mother is now preoccupied with my father and his poor health and again I feel sorry that my son is missing out on a relationship with them. The only comfort I take is that some of my close friends struggle with relationships with their own parents and their own birth grandchildren! Knowing that has helped me to release the resentment I felt at first and having perspective has helped my to see that I was desperate to do everything right and not really very open to their help, as I felt they didn't understand!

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  • Claire D

    Our families on both sides have mostly been overjoyed to welcome our son. However a few friends have what I call "black bin liner syndrome": welcoming him with a clear out from their attic and shoving it in a black plastic bag but no new gift or card. We stood by once and literally watched someone blow the dust off.

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