Monday, March 4, 2013

my own

Over the weekend, the "TODAY Moms" page on Facebook started a discussion based on this article about Giuliana Rancic's comments regarding placing marriage first and children second. I thought it was an interesting question, so I began following it closely. It wasn't long before someone made a comment related to the fact that Giuliana did not carry her child:

i love my husband, who is NOT my kids father. I will always love him, but my kids will always be my first and foremost. I think the situations can differ based on the family dynamic. blended family vs. traditional, etc. I know people who adopt children will disagree with me, but I think there's something to be said for physically carrying your own biological child in your own body and giving birth to it that also changes the dynamic. I know Giuliana and Bill's child IS their biological child, but she didn't carry it. I know, people are gonna hate over this comment, but it makes a difference in my opinion.

It shouldn't surprise me anymore when people make comments like this regarding surrogacy and adoption, and yet it does. I will never stop being shocked by the difference that people perceive exists between carrying a child and birthing one.

I haven't been a parent for long - just over 8 months. I didn't have much notice before my daughter "arrived" in my life, either. I don't pretend to be an expert on this subject. Yet, I have never felt there is or should be this divide between carrying a child and birthing one. Because, to me, my child is "my own."

She doesn't share my DNA. She doesn't look like me. She doesn't share my fair skin, blue eyes, and red hair. We have different eyes, different smiles, different hair. We are not made of the same material. But I am the woman who holds her when she cries. I am the woman who feeds her when she's hungry. I am the woman who changes her diapers. I am the woman who provides for her, who clothes her and keeps a roof over her head. I am the woman who protects her and looks out for her safety. I am the woman who dries her tears.

I will be there when she walks for the first time (I hope). I will be there on her first day of school, to kiss her scraped knee when she falls off of her bike for the first time. I will be there when she gets her ears pierced. I will be there when she has her first crush, when that first crush breaks her heart. I will drop her off for her first sleepover - and worry about her the entire time. I will teach her to drive (or maybe Joey will). I will take her to visit colleges. I will cheer her on as she walks across the stage at her high school graduation. I will be there if/when she gets married and if/when she has children - regardless of the way she chooses to become a mother.

How is this any different from what any other mother does?

I can cook dinner fairly well. Does that mean I should be a chef? No. I can change a tire on a car. Does that mean I should be a mechanic? Definitely not. Anyone can grow a baby. This isn't some magic superpower. It doesn't somehow make you a different mother or a better mother than those of us who became parents in a different way.

No, I don't have the stretch marks or the scars of carrying her for 8 months. Someone else bears those scars. I didn't have 8 months of feeling her move inside my belly. She didn't have 8 months of hearing my heart beat. Biologically, my daughter is someone else's. Her birth mother is, and forever will be, her first mother - and she will always be welcome in our lives. However, this doesn't make ME less of a parent. Or a different parent. I am my daughter's mother, and she is my child. Her not sharing my genes doesn't change my family's dynamic. It doesn't make me any more or less willing to put her needs before anyone else's needs.

She is "my own." Regardless of how society views it.


shutterbugwife said...

Notice how those comments are made by people who have not adopted. I'm so tired of people making comments on something that they have not experienced!

I could be a jerk right back and say that maybe Giuliana and Bill wanted their baby more than that woman because they tried harder and longer. But I would never say that because I don't understand her situation and don't like to comment on things I don't understand.

ARGH! This just pissed me off.

AnotherDreamer said...

People can be downright ignorant. There are so many stupid comments from people, especially regarding ALI online. I can't stomach them, it's always too much for me.

Beautiful response though; definitely a great post. I absolutely loved the last paragraph.

Glass Case of Emotion said...

This pisses me off! I think the only people who can truly judge are people technically who have done both and I know a few who say there is no difference! That being said to act like because I didn't give birth to my daughter that makes my love for her different, makes me angry. Better to say nothing than make claims about something you don't understand!

Mellow MW Mama said...

Those comments made me so angry! how in the word do people think they have any idea what it's like to adopt a child and that clearly they love their child more? So ignorant.

Great response and post.

Lori Lavender Luz said...

I often wonder what makes a person like this weigh in and assert an absolute answer when she has limited experience and therefore, a limited viewpoint.

We need to expand what it means to be a mother especially since it's possible to break into 3 what are usually thought of as 1 function: the genetic connection, the biological (gestational connection, and the biographical connection. All are valid, though only the first and the last are enduring.

Sarah B said...

Ummm, I do have one of each (one biological, one adopted) and for me the bonding/parenting process is very different. How can it not be? One I have a picture of as an embryo, and the other was handed to me screaming at one year old in a country on the other side of the world. Of course one isn't "better" than another, but it has been extremely helpful for me to acknowledge those differences as I parent two very different children. I agree though, there is no value in putting down people who have taken a different path to parenthood than you and debating how someone else might feel about their kids is totally pointless. Sorry these comments rubbed you the wrong way, there are some really thoughtless people out there who are just not capable of seeing the world beyond their own limited perspective.

PKennedy said...

I actually understand where that comment came from. My sister-in-law is adopted and although 27 years ago, the adoption process was completely different then it is now. I know that her parents raised her differently, not only different from the way they raised my husband but they each had different parenting techniques from each other. My father-in-law treats my sister-in-law differently than he treats my husband, and I think it has caused my sister-in-law to grow up with major “daddy issues”. I believe that my father-in-law loves her but not in the same capacity he loves my husband. I also think it might have something to do with the fact that she is a she, my father-in-law doesn’t make an effort to see my daughter, but I think that if she was a boy he would make that effort. That being said, my mother-in-law loves them the same, they are both equal, they are both her children. Each person handles situations in their own unique way, and it may not be right.

Jen said...

Still love your writing, and I agree with everyone else; not sure why people find the need to have such big opinions (outside their minds anyway) about subjects of which they have no experience. (You know, kind of like parenting a toddler and twin infants :). Ha...not that I'm speaking from experience or anything.

I love shutterbugwife's comment about G and B maybe wanting their baby more....asinine assumptions can be made on both sides!

S.I.F. said...

Thank you for this. And the ignorance of people astounds me. I can't imagine loving anyone more than Cheeks... she is MINE. Even though I didn't carry her.

Rebecca said...

How incredibly obnoxious! Your reply rocks.

Christina B said...

The nerve of some people! I'll never understand how or why some people think this way. However, it's not my place to judge them. I'll pray for them. My husband and I are still waiting for our call saying we've been matched. Whoever or wherever "our" baby is now he/she is loved beyond imagination...and we haven't even met him/her yet!

foxy said...

wow, what a loaded topic... You always take on the heavy ones Katie! (and with such elegance, I should add).

I actually ponder this question sometimes (about prioritizing a spouse over children). and I can't help but wonder how much our non-traditional journey to become a family impacts my thinking on the matter. I wonder if the years of struggle together to become parents makes me feel more strongly about prioritizing my husband. But then sometimes I worry so much about the genetic piece that I overcompensate by prioritizing my child. And then I look at my own parents and wonder if things would have been different if they would have made different choices about the relationships they chose to prioritize.

Its complicated. and its personal. and there are so many factors, so many different realities, so many different truths that we all have in play. I know in my heart that the way my son found our family will forever have impacts on our relationship as a family - for better or worse, this is OUR story, this is OUR family. I try not to perseverate on it, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about it more than I wish I did.

I just wish that we could embrace the differences that make us all who we are - accept that they are not necessarily good or bad, and continue living our lives in ways that are loving and kind and compassionate.

Geochick said...

Seems that the ones with the most rigid opinions have had no problems making babies the old fashioned way.

What a stupid thing to say about surrogacy.

babywithatwist said...

I dare anyone to say to me that I love my child less or am less bonded to him because I didn't carry him. I would quickly retort back like Shutterbugwife said that maybe my baby was more wanted or that maybe I love my child more if I wanted to be a huge bitch.

I agree w/ Lori that we need to expand the definition of what a mother is.

Great post. said...

My husband and I have five daughters. Some people would say that he has four and I have two, but his three girls are my daughters, making them OURS. My oldest daughter by birth is his daughter, making her OURS. Our daughter adopted at thirteen months old is also OUR daughter.

If you ask any of them, they will all say the same thing. At 6, 20, 27, 28 and 29 they know that we are a family. Period.

The comment was ignorant, and one sided. People do not think before they speak/type. It will always amaze me.

Secret Sloper said...

Funny, although I did carry my child 9 months and give birth to him, I remember feeling the exact opposite to the way this woman did once I finally experienced motherhood. I remember changing his newborn diapers, feeding him, singing to him and thinking, "*This* is what makes a mom, the fact that I am this baby's whole world right now and will be there for him forever." There's nothing about adoption or surrogacy that changes that.

As for the question of putting marriage first, I agree that the experience of IF can make you feel more bonded as parenting partners once the child comes--I think it's getting through all those awful fights and hard years that makes my husband feel like my teammate. Together our top priority is our child--but the together part is crucial. I suspect G+B feel something similar. And this woman doesn't. Given how she describes her family (meaning the words she chooses, not the fact that her husband is not the bio dad), I'd suspect there are other issues at play here.