Hi there....I am a very proud mummy of a beautiful 5 year old who I adopted as a single parent when she was 8 months old. We have a great bond and she is a happy lively girl (most of the time!,). However there have been a couple of occasions recently when she has been crying for her tummy mummy. Interestingly enough on both occasions she's been a bit unwell or it's been after I've told her off about something. I'm very open with her, give her lots of cuddles and always reiterate the reasons why her tummy mummy couldn't keep her as she couldn't keep her safe and do everything that Mummies need to do but that when she's older and if she wants to meet her I will help her. I hate seeing her upset and worry I'm approaching it right. I'm sure it isn't that uncommon so just wondering how other people handle moments like this.
Crying for tummy mummy
Honestly I’d stop with the tummy mummy stuff and start by being very clear - age appropriate - about why bm wasn’t able to care for her. I think the mummy in tummy mummy can muddy the waters a little when kids are trying to figure things out. We always referred to bms by their christian names to avoid confusion. It may be that she’s starting to grasp that she’s a little different to her peers - what subjects are they doing in school? Timelines, baby pictures topics can often throw up questions.
Be honest but don’t sugar coat anything. In all likelihood she won’t have an explicit memory of bm but there may be sensory triggers - Helen Oakwater explains implicit memories really well in Bubblewrapped Children.
Maybe some theraplay would help? Or some therapeutic lifestory work to help her start to grasp the realities?
I agree with Donatella. To her, the word Mummy means something entirely positive. So if you are cross with her, it is the most natural thing to ask for the other "Mummy" who might not be cross and who might be able to make her feel better. She never meets her tummy mummy, so she can fantasise and idealise her. I would also go with first names or start calling her "birth mum" instead of "tummy mummy" (which sounds cuddly), and be very clear about why she cannot live with her.
Thanks both... that's given me some good stuff to think about. X
I have just remembered that there is an excellent book by Pat Thomas called "My parents picked me" (also available under the title "My new family" - it is the same book). My children loved that book. It explains adoption really well to that age group.
Agree. The “tummy mummy” stuff is over emphasised by the adoption agencies as well as the therapists around. We’ve always used the first name or birth mother (not even mum) whilst making sure we explain what mothers are about: not only to give birth. Yes, she gave her birth but what about the other stuff. It is a very painful reality to face but once the kid can integrate that reality into his/her sense of self, healing may follow.
As someone who is adopted and has passed panel I understand the need to sometimes cry in relation to my bm. I never met my bm but finding out she had died gave me real sense of loss and I still cry for what might have been. But I could not adore my mum and dad more - they’ve loved me since I was a baby.
There is room to for all the love and all the loss. Being adopted sometimes just makes you feel you’re not good enough. The ‘mummy’ who isn’t there can be seen with the halo. Xx
@M&Y I very much agree with you in that there is room for love for the birth family too. I did not mean to sound harsh. At the same time children need to understand why they cannot stay with their birth family, particularly since social media makes contact so easy. It is a delicate balance.
Up until the whole covid situation my little one (nearly 9 now- came home at 19months) had annual contact with birth mum and younger sibs living else where. He looks forward to his annual visit and will discuss casually before and after. However I think that as a result of these visits he is clear that we are his parents and where he wants to be.
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