Barbara, Like Sadie, I feel like an ambassador for open adoption. My husband Jeff was adopted in 1963 and we adopted a domestic newborn in…...
Adoption Blog: Improv Mom
When Entitlement is a Good Thing
Entitlement. Now there's a loaded word.
Supermodels feel entitled to rough up their staff, powerful men feel entitled to cheat, or, from personal experience, to speak loudly on their cell phones while riding the train, deeming themselves more important than the masses. But perhaps entitlement, meaning right, privilege, claim, has never been more fraught with negative emotion than when it's used in the adoption community.
Recently, I read an online posting from a prospective adoptive mother in which she shared her disappointment about the expectant mother's decision to parent. In the thread below there was a comment that read, "That smacks of entitlement," the phrase implying that the prospective parent was only concerned about herself and her own desires.
As a mom by way of domestic adoption, I believe entitlement was at play. But not in the way you might think.
I was surprised to discover that entitlement plays a very important role when it comes to adopting a child, according to Judy M. Miller, Adoptive Parent Educator and Support Specialist. She says it means "fully embracing that you have the right to parent your child. This belief comes from claiming your child wholly, developing a sense that she 'belongs,' even though you didn't give birth to her."
Judy goes on to say that entitlement is a process that happens over time. And I suspect that, for many adoptive parents, it starts well before our babies are legally our babies. I know it did for me. I look back over my gratitude journal entries leading up to the birth of my daughter, Beth, and see that I've written many a claiming statement, including:
I am grateful to know our healthy, beautiful baby is on her way to us.
I am grateful for the upcoming "We're a Family" chapter of my life.
It's definitely a fine line of emotion to walk. To feel hopeful that I would be a mother, yet at the same time detach from the final outcome. To honor and be respectful of Kim as a person and expectant mother, yet at the same time feel the quiet excitement of parenthood nearly within my reach. It's hard stuff, and it's just one of the many complexities in the adoption journey.
To me, entitlement means being a mother in the complete sense of the word -- I am the nurturer, defender, storyteller, boo-boo healer, incessant-question answerer, nail polisher, and all the other types of "-ers" you can think of when it comes to raising a child.
Entitlement means creating a home where our daughter feels safe, secure, and loved, even when she's raising hell on her way to a time out. It means establishing an ease and openness when it comes to talking about Beth's adoption story. Entitlement also means nurturing our ever evolving open relationship with her biological mother and family.
I relish the title of Mom, wholeheartedly, and, especially, gratefully. It's not a position to be taken lightly; it can't be done in a half-assed way. It's something that must be embraced fully, fearlessly, right from the start -- and even a little before.
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Barbara HerelNew York
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