My Family

If you are new to this blog and want to read the entire story chronologically - please start in January with "Our Story, Part 1"

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

“Substitute Mother”

Tonight was Preston’s night. I bought myself a new cookbook (Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld) for Mother’s Day so Preston and I were off to buy all sorts of new ingredients for the recipes…. After two hours of talking, shopping and running errands we finally made it back home. When we pulled into the garage Cole came out to help us unload the groceries. Preston made the comment, “you are the best mom ever!” to which Cole replied “what do you mean, she is our only mom… well except for our birth mom.” Then Preston said to me “well yeah, Ruth is my birth mom, but you are my mother.”

Cole and Preston dressing up for their Valentine's Dance February 2010

I have been reading a book called book “The Primal Wound, Understanding the Adopted Child” by Nancy Verrier (as suggested by Gloria). Surprisingly there are several points and theories that I agree with, but there are other ideas that I don’t agree with based on my own experiences as an adoptive mother. The following is a quote from the chapter titled “The Connection with the Birth Mother.”

“I don’t believe it is possible to sever the tie with the biological
mother and replace her with another primary caregiver, no matter how warm,
caring, and motivated she may be, without psychological consequences for the
child (and the mother). An infant or child can certainly attach to another
caregiver, but the quality of that attachment may be different from that
with the first mother, and bonding may be difficult, or as many adoptees
have told me, impossible.”
And another quote from the chapter titled “Adoption as an Experience”

“Even if the adoptive mother has established a relationship with the birth
mother and aided in the birth of the baby, the baby will recognize her as an
imposter, a substitute for the mother with whom he spent the first nine months
of his life.”

I am not naïve enough to believe that my children will never have questions about their birth mother or long to be with her and spend time with her, we have dealt with those issues from day one. But I also don’t believe that my children can’t love me as their mother. I don’t believe they see me as a “substitute” mother any more than I see my children as “substitute" children.

I thought of it this way ~ as a mother if you have more than one child you know that you can love all of them. My children are all different with their own personalities, quirks, dreams and ideas, but it doesn’t mean that I love one of them less. It is the same with family members. I have four brothers and five sisters and I love all of them, each one has special meaning to me and my life. It is the same with my friends. I have more than one “best” friend, some friends I can share personal and intimate details of my life with, others I see on a more casual basis, but I love each of them for what they mean to me.

I think it can be the same for my children loving more than one mother. I am not trying to “sever the tie with the biological mother and replace her” – I know that is an impossibility, but I don’t believe that my children see me as a “substitute” – they only see me as their mother.


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  2. I agree with your thoughts here Camille. And as I see you with your children, you are NOT a substitute mother, and your children are certainly NOT substitute children. The same goes for Mykel. He is certainly NOT a substitute Dad. Did that book say anything about biological versus adopted fathering? Do your children ever question who their father is? I don't think so!

  3. I think that "mother" is a verb. Not an adjective, not a noun. You "mother" your children, you teach them, you guide them, you are there when they need you. A biological mother, while important, is only a noun.

  4. AMEN! I agree with you 110%..I'm so tired of negative adoption material that's out there. I understand that there are problems and issues with adoption but aren't there problems and issue that arise from life in general? I've heard of people that never feel a connection/or feel close to their biological parents etc. I think it's in the way we raise our children. If we can give them the guidence and love that they need and are open and honest with them, we can make adoption a positive experience!

  5. Definitely NOT!! I don't think I will read that book :) Your kids LOVE you and you are their MOM!

  6. Finally, in answer to your questions and comments:
    @ Yvette - I will write a post with regards to the author's opinion on birth fathers, it is quite interesting. Usually adoptees don't question who their father is, at least not at a young age.
    @ Johanna - Something I hadn't thought about, a very interesting concept, thanks!
    @ Angie - I am going to do a post about that soon, it is something that has been on my mind a lot (normal vs. being adopted). I am also tired of all the negative adoption material, it is so depressing to read! Thanks for the positive comments, overall my adoption experience has been VERY positive!
    @ Jeena - This book (The Primal Wound) has been very interesting to say the least. Some of her theories I can completely agree with and others I have a different point of view. I believe her books misses the spiritual side of adoption and being a parent in general, but overall I have learned a from her book. :) I need to read a positive one now!

  7. Hi Camille - I LOVE your blog. We have open adoptions as well and I am so very grateful. It is great to read your thoughts.

    I came across your blog when doing a search on reviews about the primal wound. I have just finished the book and have pages and pages of notes on it. I am an adoptive mother. I feel much the same way about the primal wound after reading it as you have described in your posts. We have a potential birth mother that we have been in contact with. We recently found out that her mother has been reading the primal wound (which is ironic that her and I were both reading it at the same time). She is now leaning more towards single parenting because of her mothers reading. I am planning to record my thoughts about this book in my blog and was wondering if I could offer your blog as a reference. Would it be ok with you if I put a link from my blog to yours? I want to offer a variety of perspectives on the book. I have many friends who have adopted that read my blog and I think they would appreciate your thoughts.

    Here is the link to my blog:

    My email is:

    Thanks so much. After reading a myriad of reviews in favor of her book, it has been nice to find others who value her perspective, but question her theories.

    Here are a few links I've found that you might also like to read: