It was bound to happen at some point. It's practically a milestone for every adoptee, I think.
I didn't think it'd happen this young.
But the other night in a fit of anger, out came the words, "YOU'RE NOT MY REAL MOM, YOU'RE A FAKE MOM!!!!!"
Whew. That'll getcha.
It was like a dagger to my gut.
All of the painful years I spent being poked and prodded in invasive infertility treatments just for the opportunity to be called a mom flashed in front of my eyes.
The years I have spent every day kissing every boo boo, teaching every life skill, and tucking in bedevery night suddenly didn't seem to qualify as I stared into the angry eyes of the baby I took home from the hospital at 2 days old and have loved fiercely ever since.
And suddenly I'm not a real mom. I'm a fake mom.
I burst into tears.
There's probably nothing more painful she could have said to me. Nothing in the world.
When we were in adoption training, I remember being told this day would come. It's normal identity stuff that every adoptee must face and deal through, and it's typical for it to begin in the school-age years.
Through my own tears, I sat down on the couch to try to understand her wounded little heart in that moment.
"Why would you say that, baby? What makes you feel that way?"
"Well, I feel that if you were my real mom, you wouldn't be so mean to me, so you must be my fake mom."
Okay, that actually made me feel a little better, because I knew my "being mean" was that I had just said it was too late to watch Star Wars tonight and we would try again tomorrow. The poor girl was physically exhausted... enter temper tantrum.
But even though those words were blurted out in a rage, I know Caroline's wheels have been turning ever since our super fun visit with her birthmommy Megan at Thanksgiving. In the car on the way home from our visit, I could tell she was processing everything more than she had before.
"Don't you love it that we can visit your birthmommy? What a gift that is because alot of kids who are adopted don't ever get to know their birthfamily," I started off the conversation.
"Yeah," she responded. Pause. "Mom?"
"Are you like my fake mommy and birthmommy Megan is my real mommy?"
"No, I can see how it might feel that way, but you have two very real mommies. A birthmommy AND a mommy. We're both your real mommies. Mommy Megan gave birth to you, and I am the mommy who is raising you."
I could tell she was still thinking.
"Caroline, do you feel like you have to pick a mommy? Like, do you feel like you have to pick which Mommy you like best?"
"Yeah." I heard relief in her voice at the opportunity to be honest about her feelings.
"Oh, sweetheart, you don't have to pick. Daddy and I hope you will love both of your mommies very much. I want you to love your birthmommy Megan, and I want you to love your Mommy, too. One isn't better than the other, they're both very important in your life. So you don't need to pick one or the other, okay?"
"Okay. That's good."
That's as far as the conversation went that time. But I knew the other night when she screamed that real mom/fake mom comment, it revealed the deeper crevices of her own processing.
It's weird and a little painful at times to begin this new phase in the adoption journey. I can't imagine what it will look like with my son, especially if he still has no contact with his birth family at all.
I know I'm not a fake mom. Even the United States government recognizes me on her birth certificate.
But at the other end of this developmental stage, my hope is that Caroline herself will see me as a real mom.