When should we start calling ourselves mom and dad? This is the question that I don’t think anyone can answer.
I don’t remember when we called ourselves mom and dad. I know that we didn’t say our adopted daughter or anything like that. We referred to her as our daughter when we were out and about, but we never called ourselves mom and dad until she was about 5 months old.
This is a touchy topic for everyone. We as the foster with intent to adopt did not want to confuse the child or hurt the birth mom’s feelings. But at the same time every child should have and feel as though someone is their mom or dad. It’s a comfort. I didn’t want to let my guard down completely. Not only to protect myself, but my son. We were always upfront and honest with our 6 year old at the time. That we were just taking care of little B and to show her love etc. On a daily basis I struggled with what to call myself. It felt natural to call myself mom, but really was it the right thing to do?
Had she been older I would have left it up to the child as to what they wanted to call us, but how do I make a decision for a precious baby? In the beginning, I got professional photos of baby B to give to her birth mom so that she could share professional photos with her family. People would ask me why did I do this? It was because baby B deserved to have professional photos like normal babies do. I did this in the best interest of the child.
I remember at 5 months old, I took B to get photos just at Walmart as I was paying for all the photos out of pocket but I never got to keep them really to share with my own family. I wasn’t in that mind set yet. But at 5 months, my worker said we needed to start calling ourselves mom and dad. It was best for B to hear those words. At first it was a real struggle. I felt a little guilt, and I was scared that I’d be confusing B. I tried researching the pros and cons, and the content is just not there. So we just went with what we felt was best. B at this point is really building her personality. She’s reaching for us, smiling and laughing at the things we do. She really had character and was truly becoming a part of our family.
The “mom” question is so hard. Even after you’ve adopted fully, what do you call the birth mom? A toddler has no idea really what’s going on. Again, when a child is older and understands, I’m 100% pro choice for what the child feels is right. I had suggestions such as “mommy______” or “aunt _____”. None of those felt right to us. I remember calling my worker and asking if I was completely off my rocker with what to call the birth mother? In no way did I want to hurt the birth mom’s feelings, but little B needed stability and understanding before we started having two people calling themselves “mom”.
I know when we addressed the situation it wasn’t really received well. We tried to tip toe around the awkward situation as we understood that this would hurt the birth mom. It’s not a fun topic for anyone. I felt strongly that for a child under 4, that this would be confusing. You have to remember that in our openness agreement we only see the birth family a few times a year. It would be different it we saw the birth family every other weekend or every month, but this just wasn’t the case.
If birth mom called herself mom by accident, it’s not that we would have been upset, but I think all and all when all parties take out their emotions and concentrate what’s best for the child at that time, it made sense to just simplify things.
At the end of the day, there is not a right answer for the “mom” situation. You just have to take your emotions out of the situation and to put yourself in the birth families shoes to have the understanding of their emotions to make the final decision for what’s best for the child.