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Child VERY upset w/ term birth mother

My 7 yr old daughter gets very upset if I use the term birth mother. She cries & says I’m her only mommy, she does not want another mommy, tells not to say that again & gets very clingy.

She came home from Russia @ 17 months and has always known she was adopted. All we know is the birth mother showed up at the hospital with no Id, no prenatal care, and left the hospital 4 hrs later. There was no mention of the birth father. We have always told her she was loved very much and that is why she was allowed to go to the baby home, as they called it in Russia, and is a term I greatly prefer to orphanage, to get a forever family. We have always talked about how nice the baby home was, how nice the staff was, and how many friends she had there, so she would have positive feelings about her early life. She knows she ia Russian and when she hears Russia mentioned on the TV or radio she always says shw is from Russia and seems to be proud.

The suggestions I have found on the internet do not seem to be a good alternative for my daughter- first mom, real mom, other mom, bio mom, as they all involve the word mom. She is ok with the term “the lady whose tummy you grew in” which is a bit cumbersome but accurate and gives us a way to talk about adotion.

My daughter is an only child and has never had any attachment or bonding issues. Wen have extended family who loves her, and whom she loes, and with whom we spend a good deal of time.

Any suggestions?


Obviously since this is an issue there must be something bothering her. Otherwise she wouldn’t care. I don’t know what it is.

She may still be in denial or fantasy thinking which at her age is not unusual. Ask her what she would like to call birth mom. Tell her you too wish she were born to you and you could have had her right away instead of waiting 17 months.Does she know she has a birth father as well?

Tell her it is her story and you will always be her mommy. The birth mom, no matter what she is called, will not take her back. You are now her only mom.

Posted by Regina on Nov 17, 2013 at 12:25am

Ask her what she wants to call her. If she has an idea you could use that or she may share more feelings. I do not have experience with this yet, so this is only an idea.

Posted by Private And Foster Mom on Nov 17, 2013 at 2:42am

What about “genetic parent”? Its a little shorter and doesnt use the word mother, which is what seems to make her feel uncomfortable.

Posted by Lyds780 on Nov 17, 2013 at 5:32am

You and she could pick a name for her, maybe from a list of Russian women names. Maybe one that your daughter likes. So you don’t have to describe the birthmom in a big long phrase or use the word ‘mom’ every time you want to talk about her.

It may be a conversation that she’s not yet ready for, but I think it’s great that you are in tune with her triggers.

Posted by Alice Anne on Nov 17, 2013 at 8:00am


How about “Tummy Person” or “Tummy Mummy”?  Ask your daughter what she thinks.

On some unconscious level she knows she was abandoned. I would be sure to tell her that she will be your daughter for 100 more birthdays at least.  Then I would play with her ...tell her you will not ever let her go. Wrestle with her.  Tease her…“Oh so you think you are going to leave us and be someone else’s daughter…oh no, I will go to the end of the earth, search till I find you, and bring you right home to be my daughter again. ” etc,

Posted by Happy Camper on Nov 17, 2013 at 8:35am

I don’t like tummy person because babies are not in tummies they are in uterus so why not use the right term? I remember when I was a kid thinking when moms ate the baby was in the tummy dodging chicken etc. Seemed gross to me. Funny what we think

Posted by Regina on Nov 17, 2013 at 9:44am

Regina, I thought the same thing! We don’t use the term “tummy” to refer to pregnancy or birth either.

No advice for the OP; I just had never seen another person who had the same imagination I did. Sorry!

Posted by rredhead on Nov 17, 2013 at 12:46pm

Like the teasing, using humor to express love and affection.  May just be a phase; hoping this too will pass.

Posted by double r on Nov 18, 2013 at 1:44am

This is tough.  I have to think its less about the name or title and more about some underlining worry.  Also if you adopted her at a young age and now she is 7, has she always done this or Is this new?  It could offer a clue as to what is going on.  Maybe it is just a stage in development that triggered it, maybe someone at school said something, maybe something happened such as a school friend’s parents divorcing?  Just throwing ideas out. 

I think it never hurts to reaffirm to a child that you will not leave them (although that gets tricky because you really cannot promise you will not die).  Maybe just, “I will always be your mommy.” Or maybe talk to a counselor.

Think about, what starts or initiates the discussion?  Does she mention it first or do you?  Do you talk about it in everyday conversation and/or how often does this occur?  Does she get upset only when you mention her birth mom or when you talk about adoption?  Maybe stop at that point in the discussion and ask “what is bothering you?” “Is there another word you would like to call the mommy who gave birth to you”, “changing her name does not change the fact that she was your mother first”  I like the idea of taking time with your daughter to speculate what she looked like and/or assigning her a name.  Speculate over her birthdad too.  On the other hand I’m not sure if that would lead to fantasizing unrealistically.  I’m so not an expert.  Use your mommy instinct!  Hugs!

Edited to change birthday to birth dad…thanks autocorrect wink

Posted by gqqfier15 on Nov 18, 2013 at 5:03am

I also don’t myself care for the term “tummy mommy”...but just trying to think of options.  I think gqqfier15 is right on the money though with her comment that it is not about changing the wording but about dealing with what the underlying worry is that is important. It is possible that something happened as suggested, but also that she just now is old enough to start comprehending what adoption really means. Hope you can figure it out and /or at least help her resolve her worries!

Posted by Happy Camper on Nov 18, 2013 at 8:47pm

Not so much a suggestion - but a comment. When my daughter was about 5 or 6 she referred to her birthmother as “that lady in Russia”. She was beginning to understand where she came from and what being adopted meant. Now at 12 I do use the term birth mother in our conversations. Hope you find a term that she is OK with. Take care.

Posted by JCB on Nov 24, 2013 at 8:26pm

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