As a parent in a blended family, I have many titles, but a simple Mom will do.
Technically, I am Birth Mom, Step Mom, Foster Mom, and Adoptive Mom. But in real life, I simply go by Mom. My children do not yell out to me, “Hey Step Mom!” when they need me. We never said, “Don’t use the phrase Step Mom or Adoptive Mom.” It just hasn’t been a thing in our family.
So, it caught me off guard the first time someone questioned me referencing my son’s birth mom as Mom. Was that really a big deal?
I was not familiar with the emotions tied to the title of a mother until I entered the foster care world. Suddenly, in conversations going on around me, I heard people speak about birth mothers as First Mom, Tummy Mom, and even harsh things like Egg Donor. Eeek…ouch. When I speak of my son’s birth mother, I often call her Mom.
During one conversation, the person I was speaking to was quick to say, “No, you are his mom.” Yes, of course, I am his mom, but he also has another mother. Does she not deserve the title too? Can’t we both be Mom?
After this conversation, I went searching for what other people had to say. Was this normal to feel tension over a name? I joined a few foster groups online and read the thoughts and opinions about the title Mom.
Here’s what I learned…
- People feel strongly on both sides—whether to use the title of Mom for their child’s birth mom.
- There isn’t one opinion that’s going to work for everyone.
- Often, our perceptions are based upon our case or cases we have heard of.
- Our relationship with our child’s mom tends to influence what we call them.
I had the privilege to meet my son’s birth mom. Not everyone does.
And some of you have, and it’s been so hard. You have walked through really ugly and scary situations involving Birth Mom that make you want to take the Mom title from her and smash it into a million pieces. Can I be honest? Relationships are hard to navigate; I get that. It’s a real feeling.
But no matter the story, here’s what I’m holding onto and what makes me say, she’s his Mom, too.
She did something very important for our child; she gave birth. Yes, she did things that harmed or could have harmed him while pregnant. Yes, at times, she chose selfish, bad behaviors. She was caught in addiction. Yes, she lost the legal rights to parent this child. But, she did give birth. She chose life when she was faced with the decision of whether or not to do so.
She sends me messages that she is praying for him and thinking of him. She has dreams for her son that he would have a better life. She did and does want her child to be happy, and she longs to know that he is loved and doing okay…just as a mother would. Even to this day, she speaks about wanting to do better and be a person worth him knowing someday.
Are we best friends? We are not. I still have a lot of mixed feelings when she emails or asks for pictures. It isn’t easy. But in our family, she is my son’s Mom. And I am Mom, too.
So, whatever you choose to call her, at the end of the day, can we agree that grace is needed in this sensitive issue?
Let’s honor each other with our words.
Let’s understand that every story is as unique as our children.
Let’s respect one another as Moms.
Shannon is a wife and busy mother of four with a passion for serving and helping others. After experiencing the foster care system as a foster mom, her eyes were opened to the needs of the foster care community. She is excited to serve with the TFI National team in an administrative support role, as well as continue to support her local foster care community in the volunteer TFI Advocate role with her husband, Aaron.
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