Here's the thing: Sharing DNA with someone does make a family. Period. Children who have been conceived using actual, legitimate sperm donors have petitioned the courts to find their Father. Genetics matter. I have first cousins that I met literally once when my Grandmother (who I never met) died. 20 years later- with a mutual non-interest in each other's lives- they are still my cousins. The woman who birthed my Father is still my Grandma. The mere fact that we carry the same bloodline makes us family. When a woman births a child, she is forever the "real", "true", "natural" Mother to that child. Forever. Her legal rights can change. Her access to the child can change. Her family tie to that child does not. She is their Mother. Same for Fathers. To pretend anything else is delusional.
But... But... But... I!!!!
You were there for the child since birth? Stayed up late with them when they were sick? Kissed all the boo boos? Changed all the diapers? taught all the nursery rhymes? Loved without condition? Worked day and night through debilitating exhaustion to help the child heal from the unspeakable things that happened to them? I know. I get it.
Here's the second thing: Parenting a child does make a family. Period. I have sons who I have not seen in years. When you foster or adopt, you welcome a child into your family. You treat them with the same regard as biological family. You take all the responsibility for the child's well being. You become the "real", "true", "natural" Mother to that child. Forever. Your legal rights may never come. Your access to the child may change. Your family tie to that child does not. You are their Mother. Same for Fathers. The constant need to defend our role make us look delusional.
Biological Family and Adoptive family are not competitors. We co exist -with equal value- in our children. It is hurtful to try to one up each other, or worse, trying to boil down the other party to simply mechanics or mere signatures.
If I value my child's status in my family (which I do), and I think that my parenting is real and natural (which I do)- I do not need to go around proving myself. Putting down Biological Parents by stripping them of their title and using their actions to discredit their role makes it seem like there is a question of who this child belongs to. Not only does it pose the question, but it suggests we think the answer could be that the children do not actually belong to us.
I didn't come up with this next concept on my own, but I'm not sure who I got it from otherwise there would be major credit given. The question should be posed: Who belongs to this child? The answer should always be all of us. By stepping up and working to keep everyone who belongs to your child connected to them, you are minimizing trauma and loss. You are giving your child the gift of family. You are never making them choose. And (quite selfishly on my part) you are generally more pleasant to be around.
So can we stop the pissing contest, people? Can we just be great parents to our kids without ripping apart their other parents? Can we stop trying to make them the bad guys and collecting accolades for being the heros?
I am committing to stop using BioDad or BirthMom when speaking of my children's parents. Because obviously if I'm talking about Baby 9's Mom, I'm not talking about myself. Respecting their role ultimately respects the child. That's more important to me than being deemed real or true or awesome. I share my child with another Mother. She's a Mom and I'm a Mom. My kids are lucky if they never have to say Goodbye to either of us.
I'm interested to hear what words you'd commit to stop using in respect for the parents who gave life to the children you love. Leave me a comment!!