It is a complicated world we live in. For many children, one of those complicated things is defining who their mother is. For decades, since adoption became fashionable, this can be a hard question for a child to answer. Other children are challenged for other reasons. When I first told my youngest son his conception story that involves an egg donor, he asked me if she was his mother. I did my best to explain in age appropriate terms. At some point, in discussing this reality of my sons’ existence, the older one asked if he was supposed to be grateful. We answered, no but we are. When we did 23 and Me and the egg donor was identified as their mother, my youngest son lamented he did not have my genes. Sometimes reality is complicated.
For an adoptee, this can be a confusing question, especially when the child is very young and the only mother they know is the one that is present with them. In this modern age, some children have two mothers or in the case of two fathers, may have been born by surrogate. It is not an easy question for a lot of children to answer. With divorce being such a common occurrence, many children end up with step mothers.
As the source of nurturing, comforting, sustaining and unconditional love, it is no wonder a child will love their mother. Yet, for many children defining who the mother is can be confusing.
Even though every human being truly has only one mother, for many children with non-traditional forms of “Mom”, they should NOT have to correct an erroneous identification and say a primary caregiver is not their mom. This puts the child in too difficult of a situation. An adult can make it even more confusing for the child by trying to be accurately correct.
With big feelings what’s best is to validate and reflect the child’s feelings, and be a safe person for them to share their thoughts and feelings with. If you are not the woman who actually carried and birthed that child but are the one who is there for them in that role, day after day, let the child decide what they should call you and deal with the reality that their life is complex.