Beza was sitting at the kitchen table eating ice cream while I loaded the dishwasher.
“Mom, I just don’t know what to say when my friends say ‘Do you mean your REAL mom?’ Which one is my ‘real’ mom?”
As adoptive parents, we hear and talk plenty about positive adoption language to/from other adults, but this was the first time I had to sit down and talk about our choice in words with the kids. I just hadn’t thought about it.
Obviously her 9 and 10-year-old classmates don’t mean anything negative by it and are simply trying to clarify if she means her Ethiopian mom or me. But I had never stopped to equip her with the right words to teach them. In our house I will usually either say “your Ethiopian mom” or “your mom” (because if I’m saying it, it’s pretty obvious).
So I encouraged her to find a term she was comfortable with using within her circle of friends to define her moms. Of course she could say “birth mother” or “biological mom” – but those are pretty complicated words for a bunch of third graders.
We started coming up with other alternatives when she said, with a smile on her face, “I could just say my black mom and my white mom.”
That sent both of us into the giggles. I told her “That’s fine by me!”
When we calmed down she turned serious and said, “But I don’t know which one of you I’m supposed to love more.”
I assured her that it wasn’t a contest. I told her that I was sure there might be times when she felt like she loved me more, and times when she didn’t. And that was okay. I loved her. I knew she loved me. I knew she loved her Ethiopian mom. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.
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