Sunday, November 04, 2007

Do you know what my Momma's name is? Momma!

I'm just dropping by -- my kids are with their grandparents and I have to use my time wisely (which sometimes means dropping in on my blog world friends, but doesn't mean a long post here). So this will be editted later and links will be added, but for now I wanted to respond to a comment on Mia's blog about the use of the term "natural" mother.

That adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents are offended by the term "natural" mother rests on the assumption that "natural" here is the opposite of unnatural in the sense of "artificial" (and some n.families and adoptees will say that yes, our family is 'artificial'). "Natural" in this context is opposed to "juridical" or "legal."

I am not my husband's "natural wife." I am legally married to my husband* (I also believe we are bound by covenant, and even then it still isn't 'natural'). Just so, I am not my daughter's "natural mother." I am bound to my daughter through the decree of judges in Ethiopia and Bloomsburg. This does not diminish our actual relationship. It is not a legal fiction exactly: I am her momma-in-fact and our legal relationship expresses that. I happen to be my son's natural mother as well as his legal mother. My daughter understands that she has had two mothers.

Would I *say* "natural mother" to my daughter right now, at her developmental stage, meaning her mother in Ethiopia? Probably not -- if she understood anything by the term, it would surely be the natural/artificial misunderstanding, and artificial parents would be scary and/or useless. I use the term "Mother" when speaking of my daughter's mother in Ethiopia -- even at almost three she never seems confused by this . . . "Natural mother/natural mom" to me just isn't threatening, but even if it were, that wouldn't make it less honest or true.

*I am aware that this is not possible for all people and our experiences with both adoption and healthcare decision making have made it even clearer to me the importance of the legal protections afforded me.

3 comments:

Judy said...

"natural mom," "first mom," "Nate's mom, TT," or just "Nate's Mom" -- I've used them all. And other minor variations. Whatever works at the time, whatever works for Nate.

And very importantly, what's respectful to her.

I so agree with you.

Third Mom said...

So common sensical, thank you!

We say "first parents" or "Korean parents," but mostly when context is clear "parents." No one is confused :)

Ungrateful Little Bastard said...

When I started publicly blogging I just used the term 'mother' until it became clear to me I was confusing the bejesus out of my readers. I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I use natural/adoptive only to make the distinction for readers. I use 'real' when I'm doing inner child journaling because that's what I used to say when I was very young. Still though it's actually awkward for me to add an adjective.