Humanize Me First

"Maslow was convinced that humans had needs that existed on different levels, and if they were not met, the needs on higher levels were increasingly difficult to fill. "Wikipedia

I had a visit from a troll that claimed to be an adoptee. In keeping with my comment policy, I deleted the offensive comment that was potentially hurtful to all mothers, let alone me, but did want to expand on one statement the troll made.

Troll stated that I should never expect my daughter to acknowledge me as her mother in writing, person, verbally, or otherwise. Troll had some creative explanations for this. There is no need to recap the reasons. They were nothing but the usual adoptee troll venom. (Which should not be confused with adoptive parent venom or first mother venom)

However, troll made me think.

At this time, I don't expect to be called Mother or really even be acknowledged by her or her adoptive family as such (even though I am and know I am, and yes, I realize that is contradictory but bear with me).

As noted previously, I am her mother. Duh. If you dispute that, I would be happy to tell you how babies are conceived, show you appropriate documentation and even pictures of her and I that show a strong resemblance. I would have to laugh at anyone who suggests I am not her mother. (I might recommend a 72 hour psych hold as well).

But there is more to it than that.  There is how I define myself and how others define me.

I don't expect/want to be called or recognized as mother (by others) because that feeling is higher up on the hierarchy of needs at this time.

Allow me to refer to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.  It might illustrate my point.

Maslows_hierarchy2 Maslow's hierarchy suggests that before our higher level needs can be met (Safety, Social, Esteem etc.) our most basic physiological needs must be met.  We must be fed. We must have water. As those basic needs are met, we can (and hopefully do) move higher up the scale and we are able to accomplish more. Consider it this way, a child that goes to school without breakfast will not perform as well in the classroom as one who goes to school with a full belly.

Once our physiological needs are met, we move up to meeting our security, protection and other safety needs.

This is very true for me in my relationship with my daughter. For me, before I can even fathom being called mother by her (in any context whatsoever), I need to be humanized.

My belief is that my daughter doesn't see me as a human, as a feeling, thinking, person. I also believe this comes from primal wound and the societal and adoptive parents cues my daughter may have picked up on. As such, there is no way she could ever make the connection to me being her mother (again, even at the most primitive biological level, what I call mother and others might call breeder, incubator, provider of the fabulous "gift" to an infertile couple,  or other).

Right now, today, now, I don't need her to see me as mother. I need her to see me as human first and then maybe we can work ourselves up the hierarchy.

I need to be humanized.

In my experience, the closed adoption system (and perhaps even to some degree the open one) relies heavily on dehumanizing the mother.

Dehumanization is the process by which members of a group of people assert the "inferiority" of another group through subtle or overt acts or statements. Dehumanization may be directed by an organization (such as an adoption agency or church) or may be the composite of individual sentiments and actions. Groups that have been dehumanized include certain ethnic groups, homosexuals, disabled people, the homeless and many other groups, including mothers like me. 

In times of war, ethnic groups are dehumanized via ethnic slurs. These slurs are used to dehumanize them in such a way to make the act of killing them morally acceptable.  In the war against single mothers, in the war to obtain baby product for sale, the mother is dehumanized via a variety of subtle and overt methods.

Subtle examples of this? (Be sure to recite these phrases with an emphasis on "too" and with a note of disgust when stating the word that follows it.)

"Too poor"
"Too young"
"Too uneducated"
"Too unmarried"
"Too promiscuous"
"Too stupid to raise a child since she had unprotected sex"
"She gave her baby away. Surely she is a monster."

Overt examples include removal of mothers name from birth certificate and closed records. (Why seal the records unless there is something really ugly and nasty – and non human – that you must hide?)

I don't feel human to my daughter. As such I don't feel any need/desire to be recognized as her mother by her or anyone known to her at this time.

I do feel a need to be acknowledged as a person who hurts, feels, and thinks. I feel a need to start there and move my way up the hierarchy.

I feel a need to be viewed as human before I can be viewed as anything else.

4 Thoughts.

  1. This is something that has been on my mind a lot lately.
    I recently found out the identity of my son and his parents. I haven’t made any contact yet because I’m afraid…for so many reasons.
    This new development has gotten me thinking though; does he or his parents even recognize that I am a living, breathing human being with feelings and emotions? Or am I just a birthvessel to them that incubated him until he could go to his “rightful” family? Do they know that I am his mother, just as his mother that raised him, equal yet so different? I don’t want to take his mother’s place, but I was his mother for nine months and I have never stopped loving or caring about him as any mother would. I’m not sure I really want to find out the answer to these questions because it might hurt too much.

  2. Desie – I hope you dont mind if I disagree with one point of your comment (excerpted below)
    but I was his mother for nine months and I have never stopped loving or caring about him as any mother would.
    You werent his mother for only nine months. You ARE his mother and have been for his entire life. There are no ex-mothers.
    As for the rest of your questions, I have nothing to offer other than you wont know for sure until you make contact. I dont know how old your son is but if he is of legal age, think of it from his perspective. How will he feel (at any time) knowing you knew where he was and did not contact him?
    If he is legal age, I encourage you to direct all correspondence to HIM and not his adoptive parents. Adoptees can speak to this far better than I can but the general consensus (and I agree) is that an adoptee over the age of 18 is an adult and should be treated as such. Sending a letter or contacting the adoptive parents prior to you son implies he is too imature to handle and/or their property and therefore contact is their decision to make.

  3. I am dealing with this very issue right now in my relationship with my two now grown (29 & 30) children. They both feel the need to tell me that (child #1), “I don’t think of you as my mother, I have one of those.”; but when I asked well then does that mean that you believe I should not think of you as my son?, replied,”Oh no, I would never tell you that.” The implication being that he would never hurt my feelings by telling me I can’t think of him as my son, but does not understand why it hurts me on a very primal level for him to not acknowledge that I am his Mother.
    As for child # 2, she says: “You are not my mother, you definitely feel familial to me maybe like an aunt but not a mother.” And went on to say that:” I have some things in common with my Mom and Dad, but I AM this woman (referring to me as if I were not standing in front of her) and it is digusting to me to see the similarities.” #2 could not understand why this statement devastated me, after all she is just being herself. When I suggested to her that perhaps I should not think of her as my daughter, amazingly I got the same reply that her brother had given earlier, “Oh no, I would NEVER tell you that you can’t think of me as your daughter.”
    They both like to condescend to me and frequently mention that their parents are better than me(literally, they say this) , then go on to the next sentence as if they had just asked me to pass the salt. I know better than anyone that I did not parent them for most of their lives but I am still their Mother. G@#$%^^&T !
    You may have hit on it, perhaps they don’t think of me as human. Even though they have been to my home and I to each of theirs. They have seen me do all of the same things other humans do. Eat, sleep, emote, laugh, cry, hug, dance, smile, work, play, walk, talk, and chew gum; yet, for some reason that eludes my logical brain, they continue to treat me in a manner that I would not treat my dog while insisting how very much they love me at the same time.
    So I have given up, I don’t want people in my life who treat me this way. And it is so sad because I have a lot of love to offer and they searched for me. I guess to them I am like the circus freak, half-man/half-woman; they’d pay money to see her but would cross to the other side of the street to avoid her outside of the circus tent.

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