Thursday, 11 June 2015

Mother Bear... or adoptive mother dragon lady?

What I'm about to say may alienate and polarise. I might be accused of being melodramatic... or self-indulgent... or extreme. And so be it. Everyone is free to stop reading at any point...

Being an adoptive mother is different from being a birth mother. Yep... no shit, I hear you say. And you'd be right. I'm stating the obvious. But today was one of those days that made the difference so real that I want to puke. So real, that I have had to sob. So real that I cannot sleep until I have written this.

My daughter (I just deleted all the adjectives I wanted to use to describe how brave I think she is) had an interview today at the Department of Human Services with two social workers she'd never met before to explain why she wanted to be allowed to see the file that contains the recorded details of her birth while we are in Korea over the next couple of weeks. 

She had to demonstrate that she has the maturity to discover nothing... or everything about her identity. 

She had to answer questions about whether she imagines that her birthparents might now be married and she has full siblings. She hadn't... until that suggestion was put to her... 

She had to explain how she feels about going to Korea and why she wants to see her adoption file to two people who do not know her... or me... or us as a family... or our experience with intercountry adoption or the Korean adoption community... 

She had to convince two social workers who have never been to Korea... and never met the people at the adoption agency in Seoul who made our family possible... that she was ready to see what details may exist about the conditions of her birth.... two people who know nothing of us and have lived significantly less of the adoptive experience and of Korean culture than we have. 

Immeasurably less.

Yes... they were doing their job. And certainly they are both delightful people. Gorgeous, both of them. Don't get me wrong.  I understand that none of their questions or comments were intended as barbs, nor even intended to be seen as a test. They were doing their job. But their job requires them to determine what might be best for my daughter.... MY DAUGHTER... a person they'd never met before... 

Mother Bear Me wanted to roar... burned to rage. But she couldn't. Daren't. Mother Bear had  to be quelled. Caged. She had to be still and quiet... to deny all her instincts. She had to  watch her cub in anguish and pain... and stay calm.  She had to trust that her baby girl, trained to be brave and strong, would find a way to hold her head up in the face of heartbreaking anguish. 
And she did. 
We both did.

I have never been more proud of my daughter. 
I have never been less in control as a mother.

It was a huge day. 
Tonight has been tears and hugs. 
Other mothers think I'm over-stating the situation, or being histrionic when I try to explain that adopted kids have a tougher road to walk and that being an adoptive mother has challenges other mothers cannot comprehend.
Today was one of those days.

I'm not seeking sympathy and I'd never want to discredit anyone else's pain. 
I love my life.
I am nothing but blessed to have been allowed the privilege of raising my two children. We have a wonderful and complex family life. Like all families.
But I have no idea what to expect next week after our meeting at the adoption agency in Seoul. 

Neither of us do.

I am not a birthmother.
I am not the birthmother of my children.
I am mother to two children who were born of other women. 
I am mother to two people whose mothers relinquished them because they believed that was best for their children.

I am not what's best...
Sometimes I'm not even what's good...
But I am Mother Bear.

Next week, Mother Bear will have to sit by as her cub discovers everything...
Or nothing...
There will be more tears and hugs... 
of the joy of discovery...
or the pain of never knowing...

We are both scared, my baby girl and I.



  1. You are a brave momma dragon and you and your daughter are in this together come what may - and come what may I know you will both handle it because you have each other. And that? That is the most important thing right now.
    There will be angels watching over you both - of that I am equally certain.

    1. Please send angels... I would appreciate that...

  2. It sounds like your daughter is a very mature young lady, and with you beside her, will be able to cope with whatever she finds out in South Korea. I think you are both incredibly brave, and I am sending you all my best wishes xxxx

  3. God, Wendy, what a huge journey you two are facing. And as you say, you don't know WHAT you will discover, or IF there will be anything at all. Please tell Lauren we will be thinking of both of you as you make this big trip, and sending virtual hugs, which probably won't help very much I know. xox

  4. You are Mother Bear in all the ways that count. Bringing up children in this age is hard but having the additional burden of the unknown details of your children's biological families makes it so much harder. I can only imagine the anguish this must cause you and I don't think you overstate the situation at all. Clearly you are supportive to your daughter's need to know where she comes from and the circumstances of her life before you. I hope whatever the outcome you will be able to get through it together and be strengthened by the experience.

  5. Oh my... Wendy - you are both very brave and strong. Your post really touched my heart. I wish you the best!

  6. Wow, this post had me riveted.. what an amazing journey... I want to keep an eye on your page and see what happens next! -

  7. Oh, my. Please, when you feel you can share, I hope you will post again. My heart goes out to you, and I hope all is well. Hugs. tm

  8. I hope all is fine with you Wendy and will be back blogging again soon. I have nominated you to the Versatile Blogger Award which I think you deserve. I really liked your A-Z Challenge posts. I admire the way you show both mind and heart in your posts. Sending you a load of strength!