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.
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...
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.