Adopted Infant Grieves for First Mother

Infant-GrievingThe baby coughs in the morning.

Not every morning, but many mornings he coughs. Sometimes in the evening before he goes to sleep. It doesn’t sound phlegmy and the doctor isn’t concerned ….  but there is something strange about it.

I started digging around to figure out what’s going on and I’ve come up with this: the baby is grieving for his first mother. The lungs are attached to grief in Chinese medicine.

悲 Grief

The lungs are more directly involved with this emotion. A normal and healthy expression of grief can be expressed as sobbing that originates in the depths of the lungs – deep breathes and the expulsion of air with the sob. However, grief that remains unresolved and becomes chronic can create disharmony in the lungs, weakening the lung qi (vital energy). This in turn can interfere with the lung’s function of circulating qi (vital energy) around the body.

I read a few books about babies grieving and was expecting to see some signs of it. It’s silly not to expect that a baby won’t miss their own mother. He lived with her for eight months and then one day … she was gone. Where did she go? What happened to her? He probably misses her heart beat …. misses her smell …  misses her voice. I think that his coughing is his body expressing the grief that he can’t say.

A friend told me that when he coughs like that I should place my fingers near his collar bone and wipe my fingers down toward his armpits while saying something like, “You miss your mother. That must be hard”. I hope that when he feels that way as he gets older, because he will feel that way, he feels comfortable coming to us and perhaps asking for a hug or his favorite pillow. I want him to know that it’s okay to miss his mother and father. It’s okay to be upset that he doesn’t know that part of his family. It’s okay to feel sad or frustrated or angry. It’s okay to grieve.




TWO Books on Same-Race Adoption

Portrait of Smiling Family on Steps


I just found out about two books on same-race adoption:

Click the image to go to the book's Amazon page.

Click the image to go to the book’s Amazon page.

In a heartwarming intergenerational story, Pablo cannot wait to visit his grandfather and discover what treasures will be placed on his tree, a tree that was purchased when Pablo was adopted and that, each year, is decorated with special surprises.

From Pat Mora’s website:

“Five-year-old Pablo can hardly wait to see how Abuelito, his grandfather, has decorated Pablo’s tree for his birthday. When Mamá first told her father that she was going to adopt a baby … Lito went out and bought the tree for his grandson … A lovely and resonant picture book that, like the tree that Pablo discovers decked with bells and wind chimes, rings with happiness and family love.”—Booklist

“This is a warm and gentle story, the tree-surprise aspect gives the tale a pleasing sparkle, and the characters provide a nice complement to all the WASP-y, Norman Rockwell families in adoption books—the family is Latino, and mom is a single parent.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Click the image to visit the book's page on

Click the image to visit the book’s page on

Read the review from Adoptive Families here

Then the girl begins to ask questions about her adoption. “Another mommy first kissed your cheeks and touched your soft brown hair. Another mommy loved you and left you to our care,” explains the mother. By the story’s end, the girl is ready for bed. (Readers will spot the ballet skirt she was wearing earlier hanging over the back of a chair.) She speculates about names her birthmother might once have called her, and concludes: “Oh, I know, Mama, I bet she called me Sugar Plum!”

Read the whole review from here

The story begins with an African American mother and daughter having a conversation; a conversation that is shown through the artwork to continue throughout the course of the afternoon and into the evening. The daughter asks the mother to tell her about her grandma, about the garden she grew and the service she offered to others. She then asked about the sweet nicknames grandma had for her mother when she was growing up. It is then that the daughter asks if she grew in her mother’s tummy, which the adoptive mom tells her the story about the day she joined their family.

The story does not have a strong adoption theme, and is not really mentioned until later in the book. I think this strengthens the book as it mirrors real family life; the topic of adoption often just naturally flows in a family. It’s also a reality that questions about birth family can arise at any time, especially bedtime, as it does in I Bet She Called Me Sugar Plum.

This children’s book is an awesome choice for adoptive families. It demonstrates the strong family relationship, not only between mother and daughter, but with the heritage of the women in the family. It also shows how this adoptive mother was able to pass that heritage on to her daughter. There is a strong sense of connection and family in this beautiful children’s book, a connection that is felt between generations.

I also enjoy the fact that there is a sense of realism within the adoption aspect of the story; in the fact that the little girl was allowed to day dream a bit about her birth mother when she asked adoptive mom what nickname her birth mother may have had for her when she was born. The adoptive mother was not intimidated by this, but allowed the little girl to ponder the thought before deciding that her birth mother must have called her sugar plum.



What NOT to Say to a Birth Mother


I have been reading The Happiest Sad blog for almost a year now. I appreciate her perspective on her decision to place her daughter “Roo” for adoption and the open adoption relationship that she has with the adoptive family.

I read so much bad stuff about private adoption that I chose to adopt through foster care, so it’s nice to read at least one birth mother (that’s what she calls herself) that doesn’t turn all adoptive parents into villains. Anyhoo … she has a great page on her blog about things that she doesn’t care to be told about adoption. I wanted to share them here, but be sure to visit her blog to get the whole list and read more about her experience.

What NOT to Say to a Birth Mother:

2. “I could never do that.”

I love her response:

As my friend Tamra says, if I’d loved my baby just an ounce less, I would have kept her. I placed her because I love her.
I also liked Tamra’s advice to me on dealing with this comment. She said to tell people, “No, you probably couldn’t,” in a tone that implies that I am a much stronger person than they are.

3. “I’m sure you did what was best for you.”

Does anyone really, truly believe that I chose adoption for my sake? It wasn’t best for me. What was best for me was keeping and parenting the daughter I loved so very much. Placing her was hell for me, certainly not best for me. If it was about me, I’d still be a single mother. I did what was best for Roo. Period.

10. “Will she know that you’re her real mom?”

Sorry, I’m not her “real” mom. M is. And what’s a real mom, anyway? I didn’t place Roo with a family of cardboard cutouts. Calling me Roo’s real mom implies that M is … what, her fake mom? Uh-uh. I am Roo’s birth mother, not her real mother. Same goes for the phrase “natural mother.” What constitutes an unnatural mother?

There’s  more on the page, but I don’t want to steal her whole blog post! Lol Go on over and check it out.

The Happiest Sad blog

To “Mom” or Not to “Mom”


I keep reading about how birth mothers and adoptive mothers sometimes feel strangely about sharing the title of “mom”. I don’t get it, but then I’m not a “normal” person. I have long eschewed the idea of people that are related me calling me by some titles that I am supposed to be called. For example, my nephews call me by my name not “Auntie”, “Teetee” or anything other than my name. My godkids also call me by my name.

Since reading all the hullabaloo about the title of “mom” it got me thinking about if I would want my kid(s) to call me “mom”. I’m leaning towards “no”. Now, to hear everyone tell it, once that baby is placed in my arms my brain will rewire itself to only care about fitting myself into the “mom” role. As my partner likes to say, “It’s not impossible, but it’s highly improbable”. Lol

I would like to think that what my child calls me isn’t important. Family is what we do for each other. Love is an action. Who cares if they call me by my name or “Hey You” as long as they know that Hey You will always be there to help them pick up the Cheerios, complete the homework, and dance to Michael Jackson songs in public places.

Is there anyone else out there that has children that call them something other than “mom”, “mommy,”mami”, “mama”, etc.?

TLC Show “Birth Moms”

Um …. wow ….

So ….. TLC is doing a one-hour special on birth mothers. While this sounds like an interesting show it seems like a trainwreck in the making. The Huffington Post says

In our exclusive sneak peek, we see Kandice, angry that a police officer took away her driver’s license after she was caught shoplifting … but she gets even angrier when the waitress at a Mexican restaurant cards her for ordering a strawberry-banana margarita (not a virgin margarita) and she can’t produce ID.

Kandice calls the cop and, somehow, someway, convinces him to bring her license to her at the restaurant. While waiting for him to show up (he does), she says wine won’t do after a day like this — she needs tequila! Then she proceeds to smoke a cigarette.

“I’ve been wanting to drink for how long?” Kandice fumes. “I came here to have a drink. Not for the food — I wanted liquor!”

What makes this scene even more sickening? She’s with two other pregnant girls who do little to stop her.

An official description of his special from TLC:
“Birth Moms”: This one-hour special focuses on the lives of three pregnant young women living at an adoption center in Utah while struggling with the decision about whether or not to put their babies up for adoption. Tensions run high as this diverse group of women from around the country interact with each other during this tumultuous time. Follow these troubled mothers-to-be on their journey to childbirth while witnessing face-to-face meetings with prospective adoptive parents who desperately want a child, and the gut wrenching moment when each birth mom must finally decides if she will give her baby up for adoption.

What do you think? How will this “special” affect the adoption community?