Monday, February 4, 2013

FAQ: Managing Insecurity and Offense

I received a lot of emails and phone calls over my "Mom" post a few weeks ago. I was a little surprised to hear that so many people were surprised that I was okay with Ty calling Rebekah, Mom. One reader wrote an extremely honest email and admitted that she would be crushed if her adopted son called his birth mom, Mom. She was writing for pointers on how to be more secure in that relationship.

We were at church, last week, and someone was admiring the boys and said, "Now, Ty is your real son, right?" I smiled and launched into our story on how both of our boys came to be. I love telling it.

I know that many adoptive parents equate adoption ignorance to cruel and intentional insults...I just don't see it that way. I take ignorance for what it is and understand that it is usually bred by curiosity.

Overall, I would say our adoption community is hyper-sensitive when it comes to talking about adoption. Parents spend more time than is necessary trying to prove their place and position...while the child never questions it. 

Before Ty was born, God gave me a revelation that has never left my mind. It was like a bright light turned on the day I realized Tyrus belongs to him. Not Rebekah. Not me.

God privileged us with the opportunity to mother him, but possession belongs to God alone. That really helped me in the early days of getting to know Rebekah. It removed the pressure of having to define our roles in ways that seemed unnatural.

Love is not finite. There is no limit to the amount you can give - or get. We always approached Ty's adoption with this attitude because we knew he could never get his "fill" of love. Rebekah's presence in Ty's life doesn't diminish mine. The same goes for her sister and mother and grandmother. Those relationships don't take away from the ones he has on our side of the family...they just add to it.

I look at Ty calling Rebekah, "Mom", the same way. He wants to call her mom because he understands the breadth of what she did for him. He understands her love and affection and wants to return it in a way that makes sense to him. It's kind of like me calling Ben's mom, mom. She's not the mother that stressed and sacrificed and poured into me for the 20 years I had before marrying Ben, but she has enriched my life in countless ways over the last 11. I call her mom because I want to show her respect, love, and admiration. My mom doesn't feel jealous, insecure, or out of place because of my acknowledgement of Ben's mom. She knows her place. She will always be my mom.

I know that not everyone has that type of relationship with their mother-in-law, but I hope it helps explain why Ty's recent choice of words doesn't bother me.

Ultimately, it comes down to my security in the Lord. I know who I am in Christ, so it's pretty easy to let insecurities roll down my back. When people use the word "real" when referring to my boys or their moms, it doesn't offend me because I know who they are to me and who I am to them. Most of the people we run into have no adoption experience. They just ask the first thing that pops into their head. I don't feel the need to make it a teaching opportunity because most of them will never run into adoption, again. Instead, I use their curiosity as a platform to tell our story and praise God for his goodness!

In just a few short days, Ty will have the opportunity to be with both of his moms and the rest of his extended Colorado family. What a wonderful reunion it will be. I can't wait to get home and tell you all about it!


  1. So beautifully explained. The analogy about calling your MIL "mom" made perfect sense. Adoption has not touched me personally except for the time we researched it as an option while at the height of our infertility struggle. I appreciate how honest you are. Your boys are blessed to be surrounded by such living family. And you are equally blessed to have such sweet, precious sons.

  2. When we adopted our son, our social worker and therapist made it very clear that we should differentiate between me as mom and his bio mom as birth mom (whom he called his real mom). Children do not have the capacity to fully understand these types of situations. Their brains cannot possibly process what is actually happening. I can't imagine that a 3 year old can fully understand the bredth of what Rebecca did for him. It is physiologically and emotionally impossible. There is no doubt that he is loved by all of you. But having him call both of you "mom" seems like it would be very confusing to him. I understand that you call your mother in law "mom" and the reasons you do it. But you are a grown woman. I hope that Ty doesn't have any confusion in finding what roles each of you play. He didn't call her mom without prompting...why would he since you are his mom?

    The beauty of life is that you get to make decisions for your own family. There is no doubt that you have his best interest in mind. It just seems like you expect a tremendous amount from this tiny boy.

    1. I would agree that we have high expectations for both of our boys. Within a few days of bringing LJ home it was clear that no one had ever had expectations for him and he was floundering in life because of it.

      Because adoption is such a natural part of our life and family, I can honestly say that neither of our boys demonstrate confusion because of their stories. Ty is extremely intuitive and called Rebekah "Mom" on his own account. I always refer to her as "Miss Rebekah" (even, now, after he started calling her mom). We were sitting on the couch and it was a matter of fact statement. "Mom, I'm going to call Miss Rebekah, Mom, because she is my first mom."

      A few months ago, out of the blue, he asked me if Rebekah was really sad because he doesn't live with her. He then asked if we could go visit, so that Rebekah would be happy. The kid has such a sweet, tender heart.

      I hope that our story inspires others to give more and love harder. We are certainly not perfect, but do strive for godliness in every area of our life.

  3. On another adoption blog that I read someone had made what I thought was a really interesting analogy.

    They said that it seemed that just as God gives moms the ability to love each of their children equally, despite having different relationships with them, etc., that it would seem likely that God, in His infinite wisdom, would give children who are adopted the ability to love both their birth parents and their adoptive parents.

    They said it much more eloquently, but...that was the essence of it.

    When I read it the other day, I actually intended to save the link to send it to you, because I thought it would resonate with you and because I guessed you probably got a range of responses to your other post, so it was interesting timing to then see this post from you pop up today! I'll try to track the other blog down, since, like I said, it addressed it much better :-)

    But I also think, ultimately, that you're correct in the basis of where your security needs to lie, I just thought it was an interesting angle and something most moms can relate to since most parents (I think especially when pregnant) question if/how they'll be able to love a second child the same, etc. and so that parallel would be identifiable probably for many.

    Anyway, praying you guys have a great visit!

  4. Wonderfully written! And I must applaud you mentioning that oftentimes questions are asked from curiosity, not judgement. I have friends who have twins and I'm genuinely curious if they were naturally pregnant with the two little blessings or had medical help; it has nothing to do with judging them or anything but with just being genuinely curious. But because so many people get in an uproar if someone asks such personal questions I just keep my mouth shut (though I know these friends have hearts after God's own heart like you wouldn't believe; they are amazing and probably wouldn't even bat an eyelash to the question nor complain about being asked).

    ANYWAY all that to say that I just loved this post. I so often try to remind myself that my babies belong to Him, that I'm honored to be raising them for Him. Amen and amen!!!

  5. Beautiful post!!! Thank you for sharing:) As an adoptive mom I struggle with some of these issues, your post was very insightful and I hope to use your insights to help me when I have "doubts" or I am uncomfortable with a certain situation:)

  6. Exactly! My daughter refers to her first parents as "daddy" and "my other mommy." I think that is beautiful :)

  7. Thank you. I LOVE to read your posts. They are beautiful, honest, kind, raw, and I can feel the love of god jumping off the page. It makes me want even closer to God. God made you and Ben extra special. Have a safe and fun trip.

  8. Wow! Rebejah, I love your heart and perspective on this....we are about to receive our license to become foster/pre-adoptive parents and this is something I have grappled with a bit in my mind. Your attitude toward the awkward questions is refreshing and inspiring and one I hope to exude myself. Thanks for your openness!

  9. I am sooo excited for you all!!!!

  10. Your analogy was perfect. I love you Rebekah.

  11. This was something I needed to hear- you attitude is great and full of love- thanks for your example.

  12. I so admire you and I love your honesty! God is doing amazing things through your family!

  13. I think the key here is that Ty chose to do it. My children do not choose to refer to their first parents as mom and dad. Coming from foster care for three of mine, their birthmoms did not choose adoption for them: they chose to take them to a home that was not fit for children and attempt to raise them. Even my teen who spent 13 years with his mother began calling her his "first mom" after months of always calling her Mom. Why? Because I am his mom now. I didn't replace her...I just filled a role she is not filling because God called me to that. I like you, am not insecure at all about any of my children's affections to their first family because I KNOW where I stand, but I still think that labels do matter and children want to know how they fit in a family.

    The problem I have with people saying "is he your real son?" is that ONE: it takes away from LJ as though he is not really yours because of his race and TWO: it makes it sound as though families can only be real if they are biological. We as adults, know the difference... but our kids tender ears and spirits are having to listen to that and intentional or not...I don't think people have a right to be nosey just because they are curious.

    I wouldn't walk up to a mom and say about her child in a wheelchair "what happened to him?" Because it is none of my business. The same sensitivity should apply to families built by adoption.

  14. Beautiful post! Thank you so much for sharing. Look forward to hearing all about the CO trip. Going to be amazing.

  15. You are a wonderful example of God's love and of a beautiful mother. I am a better person for reading your blog as you set an amazing example of faith, love AND patience with others. Have to wonder why people could ever send any negativity your way...God is smiling down on you!

  16. I got a really awesome lesson in being free from a lot of things recently, and one was "How to be free from taking offense"

    My favorite portion is this:

    "For some reason, we put all responsibility on the offender rather than the offended. I have no intention of excusing the uncontrolled tongue. The tongue must be controlled. But until it is, do I have a right to be hurt? Must I remain susceptible to hurt feelings until everybody else is perfect? It seems to me the less efficient of two ways for achieving the same result...Look to the example of Christ."
    Is. 53:3-9 He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, and like one from whom men hide their face. He was despised and we did not esteem Him...He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth."

    In a nut shell I make the decision to be offended when people are ignorant, rude or mean. If I give them grace, as Christ gave me grace, something good can happen. If I with hold grace, nothing can happen. And I end up with the scar.

  17. My daughter found her birth mom when she was an adult and found out she had not been rejected but given up for other reasons. Her birth mom was so happy to meet her and she is part of her life now. I was happy for the good outcome because it was good for my daughter to know this and have this new relationship. A friend of mine, when finding this news out, felt bad for me because now I had to share my daughter. That is not how I see it tho. It was good for my daughter to be accepted and loved and know where she came from. And it did not change our relationship at all.

  18. I am with you on this one...I have come so far since the days when I was thinking of adoption and wondering how I would handle not being the child's "real mom." Now I embrace the fact that my son has two mothers, different roles, both irreplaceable. Did you read my most recent post? It was pretty much the same post lol! I will say, though, that titles do mean things to some it will be my job to see what they mean to my son. For now, this is what Ty chooses to call sweet Rebekah...that could change as he changes and as his understanding of everything changes, and my guess is that will be ok with all of you. That is what is important - allowing the child to define himself in all of these relationships. In the end, the way I see it, it isn't about me (and for the record, I WOULD feel a little sad in my heart if my son called his first mom "mom" too), it's about him - so he will always know he is safe to call her whatever he wants. Anyway, thanks for posting!

  19. You have a beautiful family. I hope we can negotiate the foster-to-adopt waters as gracefully as you have.

  20. Thanks so much for sharing and openings my eyes to a new understanding of this. Our daughter is not even a year but we get questions about her birthmother alot. We have contact and visit with her but she wants to be referred to as aunt. That was her own doing because she said I am the mom and she is just thankful to be a part of our lives.

  21. Our foster kiddos call me mom and their birth mom, mom as well. I don't think it is at all confusing for kids. It is difficult for us as adults, but they can be calling me mom and their birth mom mom in the same sentence...they know who they are talking about and if we take time to listen we know who they are talking about. It is a beautiful thing that they can see that God has given them 2 people who love them enough to be called mom.

  22. Truly beautiful and a truthful reminder of where (or rather, in WHOM) our security lies.
    May we feature this post on "We Are Grafted In"? Since you are a previous contributor, I would just need your permission. As always, our readers would be linked back to your blog.
    Let me know!
    co-administrator of WAGI