Adoptive Families in a Diverse Society

By Katarina Wegar | Go to book overview

9
“Real” Mothers
Adoptive Mothers Resisting Marginalization
and Recreating Motherhood

BETSY SMITH, JANET L. SURREY, AND MARY WATKINS

“Are you her mother?”

“Is she yours?”

“Does she call you Mom?”

“She can’t be your baby. Where does

she come from?”
“How much did she cost?”

-Comments directed to the authors by strangers at
playgrounds, restaurants, and supermarkets

The paths to and through motherhood differ significantly for adoptive and non-adoptive mothers. Some come to adoption through the disappointments of infertility, secretly harboring a sense that adoption is “second best.” Others may choose adoption for personal, political, or moral reasons despite voices that warn them against the “bad seed,” the “dangers” of going beyond one’s bloodline or the psychological vulnerability inherent in adoption. Adoptive mothers-to-be, rather than fathers, are often responsible for painstakingly arranging the adoption, as though it were an analogue to carrying a child. The desire to mother must sustain itself under intense scrutiny from strangers at social agencies, through the wait for an assigned child and the pain of a match that falls through. There is no word like miscarriage to mark and convey the loss of a child whose image has been carried in the mother’s heart.

When new biological mothers seek out resemblances between their family and the child and share stories of deliveries and nursing, adoptive mothers are often left out. Their experiences of coming to and beginning mothering are not widely known, shared, or acknowledged. Thankfully, among adoptive mothers

-146-

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