I spent a little time at lunch today browsing a couple of blogs I don't read too often. The topic under discussion was the use of the term "first mother," and I wasn't surprised that several a-parents made strong points against the use of this term.

"Politically correct" adoption language, like all language, is fluid, dynamic. What may at one time have been considered appropriate may not be so today. Although not every first mother may agree, many today dislike "birth mother" because it reduces them and their role in their children's lives to no more than "breeders." I can see that connection, and it would certainly hurt me.

So I'm reading today and wondering, "Why would any a-parent want to hurt the mothers of their children by calling them something we know causes pain?" We have the children, we parent the children. What do we gain by refusing to give to our children's mothers this simple respect?

It makes no sense to me, and apparently makes no sense to my son, either. When he was about five, he came up to me one day excitedly and said, "I'm going to tell you about all of my mommies! There's my first mommy in Korea, then my second mommy (his foster mom, our dear Mrs. Cho), and then there's you - you're my third mommy!"

Out of the mouths of babes.


MomSquared said…

I think it's not threatening to me to use the term "first mother" and it means a lot to some people. So why not?

I said in an email to a friend that "first" is a chronological thing. We all have vital roles, first, second, third, whatever. We are mothers.
MomSquared said…
By that I mean, being the "second" mom is not threatening to me because it doesn't mean I'm the second most important, or that I'm a second-class mom, or whatever. It just means that there was and is a mother who came before me.
The Goos Family said…
I suppose for some a-mothers/parents being second might be threatening, I don't know. Maybe it could also have something to do with how one might place value in being "first" versus 2nd or 3rd. I don't have a problem with "first mother".
suz said…
I am personal fan of first mom.

However, my belief is rooted in a more Hellinger approach. Adoption messes with the natural order of a family and importantly a mother-child relationship. This disruption in the family constellation has far reaching affects on all members of that first family.

First mom is nothing more than giving respect to the chronological order of things. As such, yeah, the adoptive moms are indeed the second moms. Any attempt to deny that is well, just denial and probably an amom who is pretty clueless about many adoption related things. Any mom who is so consumed with her own insecurity and her own "ranking" in the childs life is doing things in the best interest of herself and not in the best interst of a child, IMO.

Anyone who gets upset with first mom (and presumably makes a connection to "second mom") should be reminded that parenting or adoptive parenting is not a "race" to see who comes out on top and in "first" place.
Kahlan said…
suz said...Anyone who gets upset with first mom (and presumably makes a connection to "second mom") should be reminded that parenting or adoptive parenting is not a "race" to see who comes out on top and in "first" place.

I totally agree. To me, saying first mom is giving my son's mother the respect she deserves.
Yes. I see myself as third mom too, as both my adopted sons came to meafter time with their first moms and foster (second) moms.

My four year old often talks about his "other mother"and his "other" brothers and sisters in a fantasy way. Since he has never talked to, or even seen a picture of his first/bio mom, I tend to think he means it totally in an imaginative way, much like my first, bio son used to talk about his "other" imaginary parents and brothers and sisters. I think it's part of the age/stage he is in. But I wonder if it is somehow mixed up in his mind with what he does understand about adoption and what he knows deep in his gut from the experience he lived before he had words. Sometimes I respond as if he were talking about his real other/first mother, and sometimes I respond as if it were something he is playing or pretending at. He doesn't seem to know which it is himself. If I ask him "Do you mean your first mom A.?" He sometimes says yes and sometimes says "no, my other mother". It is a very foggy area for me and I have no idea how I should be responding. I would love to discuss this more and see what other adoptive parents think of it. Perhaps it is something he will grow through as his understanding matures, and I should just accept what he says now and provide information about his real other mother when it seems he is interested. Any thoughts?
Margie said…
Clouds, thanks for the great comment, which would also be a good topic for the open mike. So I'll add it to the list so we can encourage comments.

This is something that is so good about blogging. I don't care what issue you raise, you can get a gazillion points of view and approaches. This is really a great medium for problem solving.
Sue said…
When I came up with the term first mother I thought I had invented it! It just made so much sense to me. My child was parented by her first family for two months before they made the decision to give her up/surrender her. (I think the language there depends entirely on POV.) But even if she was surrendered on the day of birth, no way would I disrespect her very first relationship.

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