Saturday, January 12, 2013

First Presents from Squishy' Birth Mom

I picked up Squishy's first presents from his birth mom this week, his Christmas presents and Birthday present. I thought there was also going to be one from the birth father, but I guess that didn't arrive yet. The gifts were very thoughtful and we were excited to get them. It was the first time I had taken Squishy back to the agency since placement, so I planned my speech to tell him where we were going and why this place was special and that we were going to pick up some presents for him from his birthparents.

I thought I would take this time and space to write down just a couple of my first reactions on the gifts as I process this first exchange, from the prospective of an adoptive mother. If you've been following us since the beginning, then you know that when we first started our adoption process, we were hesitant on how open to be and exchanging gifts, visits, etc. We've come a long way, but this is the first gift from his birth mom so as expected, there are a lot of emotions and reactions to process in this unchartered territory for us. And, as I have learned along this journey, you experience many emotions at once and sometimes it seems they contradict each other and you wonder, "how can I have these very different emotions at the same time!"

First, the gifts from his birth mom were very sweet, and totally in line with things I would have gotten him/think are appropriate. When people buy things for your child, as the parent you are the editor. We've definitely gotten some things over the past year that have gone straight to Goodwill. You know what' I'm talking about. I was anxious to see what she would get, because I didn't want Squishy's first present from his birth mom to not be in line with our parenting. She got him some clothes and books, and they fit into the type of things he wears and reads. This became another connection between she and I, and another reminder of why she picked me to be his mom, because we were of like minds when it came to that type of stuff.

Second, she put two cards in the gifts, one to us and one to Squishy. Both were so sweet and thoughtfully worded. Among other things, she commented on the photos and updates we had been sending her and how big Squishy was getting. She said that she is starting to see more and more of his birth father in how he looks, and "how crazy it would be if he ended up having blonde hair?" (Squishy has very dark brown hair right now.) This sentiment brought up a lot. It can be a very emotionally complex thing to not be able to speak about your child in terms of them "having your eyes" etc. This is one thing I've noticed a lot of our friends and family haven't grasped, how much of family conversations revolves around tribal talk and that they are having conversations we can't participate in. We are working on talking about Squishy's looks more in relation to his birth parents in front of our family, but it's taking time. So to see this sentiment from his birth mom, and that it came so freely, really overwhelmed me. I had no idea how much I had been craving that type of conversation about my child. I can only do it with DH, and it felt really good to have someone new join in that conversation.

And finally, the feeling that I'm still wrestling with. The books that she gave Squishy were actually her books from when she was a kid that she was passing on to him. This is no doubt, a wonderful, sweet gesture of love. But I am still working through my feelings of insecurity about this one. I felt it as an inheritance issue, and that she was making inheritance decisions for him without my consent. So that touched on feelings of co-pareting. It is interesting, because we have things from her when he was in interim care. But in a way that is different because he wasn't with us yet. I have no doubt in my mind that she meant this than anything other than love. I was just a little surprised at myself for this reaction, over books. It's not like she is petitioning us to make sure he goes to a school of her choice. So, it's a reminder to me that as we go through this journey, there are still going to be things that may stir up feelings for me and I need to be prepared. But I know that I have to allow myself to have these feelings and work threw. I am not perfect. And to not recognize and work on these feelings would do more harm.

Thanks for listening, and I'd love to hear your thoughts, from both sides. Are there any gifts that you've received that caught you buy surprise? Or, when you are choosing gifts to give to your child's parents, what are looking for?


  1. I'm a birth mom. I placed my daughter in an open adoption at birth. My daughter just turned three (in November) and for Christmas, I got my daughter, her mom, and me matching necklaces with all of our names on them. My daughter's necklace says "Dad & Mom" instead of her parent's names, but other than that, it's the same necklace. Anyway, to us...that doesn't mean that we're co-parenting in the traditional meaning of the word, though my daughter's birth dad and I are still parents. We're just biological and not the parenting parents (like you're the parenting parent of Squishy). Adoption is hard, and I can see where you're coming with the books. I'm always careful to clear heirloom-type gifts with my daughter's mom first, but we have open lines of communication. From a birth mom point of view, I can verify that Squishy's birth mom didn't intend to overstep any boundaries. I view it as her saying to Squishy (and to you since you're his parent and whatever Squishy has is yours too in a way) that he is still a part of her family and that she still loves him. Also, if I passed along something of mine to my daughter, I would be saying, "This was mine. I feel like it's a part of me because it's a part of my history. You already have my heart, but this is a physical expression of the piece of me that you carry with you." (Maybe not those exact words, but I think you probably get the point.) I think Squishy's birth mom might've been saying something similar (not knowing her personally, I can only guess, but that's how I feel about it).

    I don't know if that was helpful at all or not. It was sort of a rambling commentary. If you'd like to talk to a birth mom at any point or wish to follow up with me, I'm open for further conversation. :)

    1. Hi Monika, thank you so much for your comment and for phrasing from my point of view so it would be easier for me to understand. I follow you on twitter too, and you do such a wonderful job speaking on adoption from the birth mom's point of view, and you do such a service for adoption. I agree, that for her, the books are a part of her history and for Squishy, she is a part of his history, so they are a representation of his history/beginnings. See! I totally got your ramblings!! ; ) That was a great way of breaking it down. Sometimes little things just catch you off guard, and we all have to keep in mind that adoption and the issues that it will bring up didn't end with relinquishment/placement/finalization. Thanks!!