To birth moms, and to Cara, my birth mom,
I’ve always found it a little bit difficult to categorize Cara, my birth mother, in my head. “Birth mom” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue and it can cause a casual conversation to switch gears pretty quickly. “Mom” doesn’t really work either because, well, Carrie is my mom. My “other” mom. Be more specific. My “adoptive mom.” Too official. The mom I live with. Too transactional. Can we move on now?
I’ve always found it a little bit difficult to categorize Cara, my birth mother, in my head. “Birth mom” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue and it can cause a casual conversation to switch gears pretty quickly.
Sleepovers and Cabin Trips
As a child, I would visit my birth mom fairly consistently. Sometimes I would sleep over at “grandma and grandpa Tunnings,” the title given to my birth grandparents. It was always such a treat to visit and get to eat Lucky Charms for breakfast without mixing it with Cheerios. Is that even legal? I have very happy memories of watching cartoons all morning and bouncing on the impossibly springy trampoline outside.
When I was there, I was never regarded as separate or different from my cousins. I never felt left out or treated differently. My being adopted wasn’t brought up. It wasn’t ignored, either. I was accepted. What a wonderful feeling. There were times of uneasiness where I felt as though I was visiting a family unrelated to me. Those feelings were squashed as I grew up and realized that I could just be myself around the family and that was OK. I was invited up to the Tunning family cabin in Nisswa, Minnesota when I was about 12. I’ve gone up every summer since and it is always the highlight of my summer.
Good Memories of Time Spent
I can confidently say that I have only good memories of my time spent with Cara and the Tunning family. She doesn’t try to act like my mom, but instead feels more like an older sister or close Aunt. Cara has done an amazing job of making me feel accepted into the family by focusing on me, my life, my interests, and my thoughts rather than overthinking the dynamic between us. She also is aware of the dynamic and has asked me meaningful questions that I will always remember.
“It’s OK if you don’t know but how does it feel to be up here at the cabin with everybody? I hope you don’t feel like the adopted one out.”
I hadn’t really thought about it at the time, but I realized later how that simple question made me feel heard. She showed me that it’s okay to feel like I’m not quite sure where I fit in to all of this.
In the past couple of years, I have been so blessed to be able to visit Cara and my younger brother, Elliot. I tell her what’s on my mind, what I’m passionate about, what’s got me down, and what I’m excited about. We share many of the same mental processes, and it has been beyond helpful to hear her put words to problems I deal with that she dealt with at my age.
To All Birth Moms
Dear birth moms: thank you for taking responsibility, and making the difficult and complex decision for the well-being of your child. I can’t begin to imagine the adoption process from your perspectives, but I can tell you this: your decision will make a positive impact, and this decision is an ongoing one. Every time Cara spent time with me she showed me that I wasn’t being “given away” because she didn’t want to deal with a child. She had made the most sacrificial decision a parent could: placing me under the care of people better equipped than she.