Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Feelings about fitting in

I often feel wary about talking about my feelings about birth children because I know lots of adopters come to adoption through infertility – indeed that’s how we arrived at the decision to adopt. After years of trying, not conceiving, visits to the gynaecologist, infertility medication, measuring temperatures, scans, dyed ovaries, adoption was the natural next step for us as couple wanting to become a family after choosing not to have invasive, investigative surgery. Stepping onto the journey towards being an adoptive mum, was the end of being a TTC mum, and it took me a while to accept that I was closing the door on something so important.

I’m very fortunate to have experienced pregnancy, child birth and the first year of my daughter’s life. We didn’t experience those things with our son, and although we created and experienced lots of firsts with him, we hadn’t realised just exactly what we’d missed until we had those moments with Dollop.

But, I regularly feel like I don’t know where I fit, or if I fit anywhere, or if it even matters. Before my pregnancy, I used message boards for adopters and tried to meet other adoptive mums - that’s where I felt most comfortable. I talked to other people who’d been through the same as me. I tried forums for mums – netmums and mumsnet, but often found myself facing different questions to those posed, and just felt like they weren’t the right places for me. I felt too scared about going to playgroups and toddler groups, because I didn’t have a birth story to share, and I (wrongly) felt that was all mums talked about!

After Dollop was born, I decided to try again. I looked at the aforementioned websites again, and this time round, felt I fit a little better. I shared concerns about breastfeeding, colic, and some of the newborn issues that I’d not experienced with Mini. I’m thinking about playgroup this time round, and will get there in the end I’m sure.
But I also still need the help and support of other adopters; I still have an adopted child, and now more than ever I need to call on the expertise, advice and support of other people in similar situations. Only now, I’m different. I have a birth child, so it turned out I was a fake all the way through the adoption process.
It was all wrong. All that grieving I did for the baby I’d never have, well, turns out I could. I grieved for a long time and even after Mini was placed I still got envious of other people and their bumps. When I found out I was pregnant, well…imagine believing for years that someone was dead, and then they come knocking on your door…

I struggled to accept my pregnancy. Not helped by all those ‘well it happens all the time’ type comments. The shock of it was immense. A week earlier we’d expressed our interest in adopting Mini’s half-sibling who was waiting in foster care nearby. I was so excited at the prospect of having this half-sibling; we thought Mini would love having a brother, but then had to go through the process of contacting our social worker to withdraw our interest. I knew I should be really excited and grateful for our impending bundle, but at the time, all I felt was sadness that this other child would not be joining us. I’d gotten very emotionally attached to the idea of him becoming a part of our family, and of course pregnancy hormones didn’t help! I had a difficult pregnancy too, which added to the - at times – dark and down feelings.

So now, where do I fit? I don’t want people to think ‘silly cow, she was lucky enough to have a baby and all she does it moan about it’, because that’s not what I’m trying to say. This is just a selfish post for me to vent and explain that when I’m with other birth parents they don’t get the issues that we have with Mini, they don’t understand because they don’t need to, they haven’t experienced the same things. When I’m with other adopters I feel wary of talking to them about Dollop for fear of upsetting them if I come across as being all moany and ungrateful that I had a birth child (even though it was a horrendous 9months). And then I feel awful because I know that there are a lot of very strong adopters out there who are more than capable of coping with their feelings and I feel I’m doing them a disservice!

Really it shouldn’t come down to fitting anywhere. I’m a mum. Mums should fit with other mums shouldn’t they? Mum’s should stick together however they got there. But I am not in the habit of lying about our family, and how it came to be, and I’m therefore still not sure how I’d handle any awkward questions from other mums and in real life, I’m dealing with a set of issues that have only arisen because of Mini’s background and trauma. So at times it does feel a bit ‘them and us’. I question myself on whether I ‘need’ to fit somewhere to get the support that we need for us and for our children, or whether I just need to fight for it regardless.

I’m not expecting comments on this one, this is just a venty post of probably irrational thoughts! But it’s glimpse inside my own head…and I can’t keep on trying to get inside Mini’s head without examining my own at times!


  1. Please don't ever for a moment think that you are a 'fake' and that you don't properly fit within the adoption community. We all carry are own specific family backgrounds and situations and all are enriching and interesting.
    Brilliant and honest post x

  2. Sending you a big hug for this post. Fitting in is something that we humans need to do to identify where we feel we belong. I can understand your feelings and, as an infertile adopter, I do not feel that you do not "belong" in my gang. We're all simply mothers. We all walk our path in life, wherever that takes us. Acceptance is simply that. You are accepted because you are you. You are a mother of two children. Your path brought you to Dollop and then to Mini. I do have a few friends with biological and adopted children and I will steer them over to your blog. I can imagine how complicated your feelings must be at times. I cannot imagine how I would feel now if I was suddenly able to have a child naturally (there might even be a new religion born from it!!). As Sally, above,'re definitely not a fake for either community and you simply have a toe in each xx

    1. Thank you Gem. I'm not sure if I'd feel differently if my children had come to me the other way around. But I know that I'm a bit mixed up about it all! x

  3. Stix, I blubbed reading this and couldn't reply straight away. I empathise with you. Gherkin is an IVF baby. I haven't yet mentioned this on my blog yet, as I want to explain things to him first. We underwent many many attempts of IVF to have him and then subsequently to have a second. It was a tough time. I understand that feeling of not knowing where you sit. I am infertile, but I have a birth child and now and adopted child. The positive means we can empathise with many situations. You sum it up beautifully in the penultimate paragraph. We are ALL mums, muddling through. You've been a great help to me and we are all in it together. xxx

    1. Wow, you've been through a helluva lot to get your boys! Two very difficult processes I imagine? I know how the adoption stuff works, but IVF wasn't suitable for us and so not a route we tried.

      I wish I could just feel like a mum. Not an adoptive mum, or a birth mum, but simply a mum. But you're right, regardless of how we came to be mums, we are all in it together xx

  4. I think, in my opinion, you have a foot in both worlds. I had a biological child first and an older, adopted child second. When I'm talking to people I relate then to one part or the other, sometimes both.
    As my kids grow, how they got here becomes less and less important. What they do, what they like, how school is going, the focus expands a lot as they age. JM2C.

  5. That's reassuring to know Essie. They're still so young at the moment, and Mini has regressed somewhat back to Dollops age (in many ways, but not all), it's hard going. When they have different interests and achievements I really hope I can focus on those instead and move forward instead of being so stuck on how they got here....

  6. As Gem said we all walk a different path and I know when Gem finally became a mum I didn't feel she was any different to me, In fact I had been keeping a seat warm in my boat for some years. I don't see adoptive parents as any different to me perhaps that's because I am lucky to have been able to support 2 friends through the adoption process.
    From my point of view as a mum of just one, I often feel different from other mums who have multiple children.I often get the "don't you want more" comments, mostly I make a joke of it but occasionally I explain the journey we went on to have our son and the subsequent journey we started to have a second child that never came.
    What I am trying to say is that we are all different, we all come to parenthood in different way and we need to remember that what matters is we are all Mums! (This is a note to myself too)