The issue of referring to an adopted child’s first mother as the tummy mummy came up somewhat coincidentally today but it did cause me to reflect on this again. Somehow, I always feel a bit of cringe at that phrase and the title of this blog reflects how some other people feel about it. I found that Lori Holden aka Lavender Luz did a poll. She is an Author & Speaker, Diarist & Open Adoption Advocate. She also has a podcast – LINK>Adoption: The Long View.
First what got me here. The commenter is blocked from posting/ responding for a month in a Foster/Adopt group. The reason she notes is that it isn’t ‘kind’ to mention to someone with ‘guardianship’ whose 4 year old child sees her biological parents – that agreeing/ pretending, letting child pretend that the child grew in HER belly vs reinforcing to child that she grew in ‘mama name’s ‘ tummy…. That mama ‘name’ is more respectful than tummy mummy.
Of course, there is also this – that they “saved” the child …. and have done xyz for that child – still does not change the fact that child did not grow inside her. The issue started when a photo was posted that showed a non reading age child in a shirt with letters only stating she loved her as ‘mom’… allegedly the child picked that shirt out and insisted she wear it in front of the tree….again listing all the things ‘she’ saved child from…
The commenter was blocked after mentioning that seemed passive aggressive since the sees her actual parents.
In the LINK>Poll about the term “tummy mummy”, the 300 respondents broke down this way –
- 66% were adopting or adoptive parents
- 11% were adoptees
- 13% had a professional or nonprofessional interest in adoption
- 10% had placed a child or lost a child to adoption
You might expect that with such an Adoptive-Parent-heavy sample, the results would lean positive toward use of the term “Tummy Mummy” but you would be incorrect.
- 61% either didn’t like the term (26%) or detested it (35%)
- 25% were either neutral (12%) or found it acceptable (13%)
- Only 5% loved it
- The remaining 9% chose “Other,” which allowed for commentary.
Some of their comments included – Feels like a white-wash term trying to sanitize truth. It diminishes the woman’s motherhood. Original family isn’t reflected in this phrase, which seems intent on removing all important connections and substituting them with a biological detail that isn’t even accurate.
This one was interesting – I hate “tummy mommy.” When people told me babies grew in their moms’ tummies, I pictured babies swimming their stomachs with all the food. And babies popping out of tummies, Aliens-style.
Another one noted – My husband is a reunited adult adoptee. I actually shared this with him and he made a vomiting noise.
Another adoptee noted – young children are not given enough credit for understanding that we can have two mothers that love us, regardless if one can’t be there at the moment. I know for me personally it would have helped me tremendously to have been able to see and talk freely about my mother as this real person.
And this – “Tummy mummy” makes her sound like [my long-gone birth mother] was a surrogate rather than a human being making a difficult decision. It reduces her down to a particular “role”.