Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I Am Her Mother

See this girl?  {the big one!}
I am her mother.  
That's all.
Just her mother.

A female parent.

Did Chris and I adopt Katie?  
Absolutely, and we are so proud that we can say that.
Are there instances in which it should be noted that we are her "adoptive parents"?
Such instances are really probably limited to when medical information is provided or when a social history is provided.  For example, it is noted in her file at the pediatrician that she is adopted.  Well, duh.  Otherwise, there would be no medical history for a five year old girl with Trisomy 21.

You know, at the pediatrician I {her mother} researched, selected, and have scheduled all of her appointments with.  

It is noted that she's adopted and that "parents are unable to provide medical history re: birth parents."  

It is also noted in her occupational therapy notes that she is adopted.  And that "mom advises that Katie previously lived in a Russian orphanage for nearly five years".  {you'll note, the term "orphanage" would indicate she had no family.}

Such social indications regarding adoption are certainly necessary in an occupational therapy evaluation.  Living for four years and 11 months in an orphanage, without a family, will do a number on the sensory perception of a child.  

Four years and eleven months.  Without a family.  How long is that?  
1,490 days.
35,760 hours.
2,145,600 minutes.
Without a family.

I am her mother.
Do you need to refer to me as her "adoptive mother"?
No, not unless you are making a note in a medical or therapeutic chart.
To imply that I am somehow less her mother because she is adopted is ignorant and insulting.

Her first mother?
She didn't want Katie.
You know, because Katie has an "inborn deficiency".

She looks deficient, right?

Her first mother made what I think was a difficult decision to leave her baby behind.  To walk out of the hospital with empty arms, because the child that was born was not the child she expected.  I have convinced myself that she did so because she thought she was helping Katie.  I have to believe that.  For my girl.  I have to believe that her first mother didn't walk out those doors because it was easier for her; easier for the first mother.  

She had no idea what she was leaving behind.

He is her father.
The only father she has ever known.

The first father she had? 
He left her at the hospital when she was born.
He also signed a letter that said he never wanted to be contacted regarding any future information about her.  Never.  He left his newborn child at a hospital and went home.

I do not pretend to understand how that happened, and I hope it happened because her parents thought it would give our sweet Katie a chance at a better life.  And it has.  Being left at the hospital when she was born, like a set of keys that someone forgot, was the best thing that ever happened to Katie.

This is what was noted on a parent evaluation sent home from school by the school psychologist.
The line through "Adoptive"?  Yes, that was made by me.

Please just refer to us as her parents.

The name on that folder from school?
We gave it to her.
Her parents spent months talking about what her name would be.  Her parents spent many nights laughing over crazy name combinations until they finally settled on the perfect combination of family names.  

Family names.  
From the only family she will ever have.

After eleven months of waiting, of filing out paperwork, of having multiple medical exams on two continents, of flying back and forth over 36,000 miles in 90 days, of providing excessive proof of our ability to parent a child (when we already had three...), we were thrilled to announce to everyone we know that we are the parents of Katherine Ruth.

Katie's first parents left her in a hospital bed and walked out the door.

Katie's family worked their asses off to give her a home.
To give her a chance.

Katie's parents went to court in Russia, relying on a translator to ensure that the answers to the Russian judge's questions were answered correctly.  To accurately convey how much Katie deserved a family.  

A mother.  
A father.  

Not an adoptive mother and father.  
Just a plain old mother and father.

Katie's family went to court in the United States to make it even more official that she is part of our family.  

I am her mother.
I make her doctor's appointments.
I research her therapies.
I fill out her school paperwork.
I spent weeks deciding on the paint color for her room.
I filled a closet and dresser with clothes for her.
I hold her at the doctor while she gets shots.
I read her books at night when she goes to bed.
I cook her breakfast, make her lunch, and clean up her dinner mess.
I give her a bath and wipe her bottom.
I fill her prescriptions and dispense her medication.
I wash her hands and find her missing shoes.
I teach her sign language so she can communicate.
I hug her and kiss her so she knows she is loved.
I jump on the trampoline with her.
I ride my bicycle around the neighborhood and pull her in a bike trailer.
I brush her hair.
I get up in the middle of the night with her when she's scared or needs her blanket pulled back up.
I clip her fingernails.
I strap her into her car seat and drive her to the park.
I push her on the swings.
I could not love her more if she grew in my body.

He is her father.  
He swings her up high, just one more time.
He hugs her when she falls down.
He painstakingly clips her hairbow into her hair.
He matches her outfits, even though it is so far out of his comfort zone.
He pushes her baby in the world's smallest baby stroller.
He taught her how to use the potty.
He makes her feel safe.
He snuggles her at naptime.
He wipes her nose.
He cooks her dinner.
He sings ridiculous songs to her.
He picked her name.

He is her grandfather.
She's never had one before.
He lights up when he sees the face of this little girl.
He swoops her up for big hugs and kisses.
He is more proud of her every tiny achievement than I could have ever anticipated.

We are her family.
Not her adoptive family.
Just her family.
Nobody asks me if I am Jack's birth mom.
Nobody notes on a school form that I am David's biological mom.
Nobody says that Henry is "mine".

I'm just the mother.
No further description needed.


  1. It is so crazy how much we don't realize we don't know. Just like the way I didn't realize how important person first language was to people with disabilities before I became the mother of a child with special needs. I never thought about adoption and the walls a parent has to climb to overcome an insensitive public. You became her real mom the minute you started to love her when noone else did.

  2. You are SO right!!

    I just have to tell you that I absolutely LOVE the photo of Katie with the mixing bowl. It is one of the most precious photos that I have ever seen! That one needs to be framed and displayed...her face tells the story.

    I so enjoy reading about all FOUR of your children. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Oh I love reading this. She is so beautiful! And you are her MOM!!!!!!!!

  4. So thankful you are her mother! How blessed is that sweet girl!
    Great post!

  5. What a beautiful post Kim!! wow.

  6. So powerful.
    I am a stalker friend of Misty's, and I have been following your story for some time now. I couldn't be more proud of your parenting, and I don't even know you.

  7. Loved this post. So true. What a wonderful, happy family you are!

  8. I've been following your blog for quite sometime now. I have never considered you the adoptive family. You are her family. That's kind of like us standing at the pearly gates in heaven and the gate keeper pulls out our file and see's the word adopted on there and says we can't get into heaven because God is not our natural father.

  9. Here I am commenting again...but this post brought tears to my eyes. Every word you said I felt like shouting "amen!" So beautifully put. I hope you don't mind if I share the link to this post with friends. Katie is so lucky to have you.


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