Friday, February 03, 2012

"Birth Child"

Is it just me, or is the term "birth child" really icky?

I don't like being called my aparents' "adopted daughter" when I am introduced. I am their daughter.

C calls me her daughter, placed for adoption.

I don't want to be anyone's "birth child."

Why do we need more freaking labels for children in all this mess?

Is it not a fact that I was born C's daughter, and that now I am the daughter of my aparents, end of story?

It might take longer to write it out "son/daughter placed," but being called a "bchild," or "bdaughter" or any such thing makes my skin crawl. It reduces me to no more than a pile of cells that came out of someone's vagina. It makes me even more Other than I already feel. Fuck. Then again, that's the point: the industry wants to distance us from our first families, as much as possible. Labels help with that!

I have two sets of parents, and I don't really like calling my aparents my aparents, because they are my parents. C is my mother and my friend. I wish I could refer to all of them without labels, but I get that there has to be some way of distinguishing between the two sets of parents for clarity. I guess, in protest, I could just start referring to the parents who adopted me by their initials, as well.

But a child is ONE person, not two. I don't need a label, as if to say I am someone's "real" daughter and another person's "fake" daughter. Parents hate labels, so why apply them to us? Oh yes, see my previous post about adoptees not having a voice.

I Googled "birth child" and and found this on "A birth child is a child that is biologically related to a mother and father." Okay, this is true of almost every family not formed by adoption. Do I need to refer to my own sons as my "birth children" now, or would that be gratuitous? If not, why not? If I went around school or the neighborhood, calling my sons my "birth children," people would think I was crazy. And yet this whole industry bullshit set-up is crazy, no, crazy-making.

Do any of my adoptee readers feel comfortable referring to themselves as a "birth child," or "bio child"? I have never read any adoptee referring to him/herself in this way. Were we asked about this?

Does the industry care what we think? Ha, ha, ha, that was a rhetorical question, of course.

Thank you, no, fuck you, adoption industry, for yet another needless label to isolate adoptees. As if we don't feel strange enough! It's hard to be just a kid sometimes when you're adopted and have to explain relationships. Sometimes you don't want to explain anything, but if people are labeling you bchild, what chance do you have? Especially if your own first family calls you "bchild"? Why can't you just be their son or daughter? Seriously?


Real Daughter said...

LOL! So if Im my natural siblings "birth" sister, I guess that makes me my a siblings "death" sister. I agree we need to have some distinction at times, but I try not to use the "b" word. Hate it. You're right, though- our wishes do not matter to most in adopto-world. Everyone else knows better. ;)

Julie Stromberg said...

Yet another example of how the industry and its lingo serves only to marginalize parents and children. Much like the term "birth mother" relegates the mother to the role of birther only, the term "birth child" implies that we were given birth to only. The industry can mess with the terminology all it wants--doesn't change the fact that we are the daughters and sons of our mothers and fathers. My dad would never refer to me as his "birth child." I'm his daughter. Fortunately, my mother doesn't refer to me at all so terminology isn't an issue there. ;-)

ms. marginalia said...

Death child! Yes, Linda. That works.

I am so glad that no parent of mine calls me "bthing."

I get to be everyone's real girl.

Positive Adoption Language is about marketing, not people. It is about placating consumers, not product. Hate it.

If an adoptee chooses to refer to herself as a "bchild," that is a choice, and I would support her. But I have never met one yet.

I was also thinking that by the lame definition of "bchildren" all of our kept sibs would also be "bchildren" of our parents since they are also biologically related. But the term isn't used for them. It is all sick and artificial.

Lorraine Dusky said...

When some body referred to my daughter, days after I had buried her, as my "birth daughter," I wanted to spit. I wasn't there--she interrupted a friend of mine who had known my daughter for decades--to "correct" her language.

Yes. She is an adoptive mother. I can't look at her now without thinking of that and wanting to smack her.

sostinkinhappy said...

Someone once referred to my daughter as my "birth daughter." I had to physically restrain myself from slapping them. I then schooled them on how to properly refer to her. She is my daughter. (Did I mention this was a sibling who said this to me? I haven't talked to him since and that was in the late 1990's.)

And I second what Linda said. If I am a "birth" mother, then does that make the adoptive mother the "death mother"? The industry chucked the term "natural" mother because the opposite "unnatural mother" made them feel queasy. But some how the opposite of "birth mother" is more palatable?

Sending lots of love your way ~ Melynda

ms. marginalia said...

Lorraine, that is awful. That isn't compassion; it's questioning your right to mourn, almost. I would have wanted to hit her, too. Why can people not think about their words?

Trish said...

It is such a creepy thing to call a son/daughter. I honestly have only ever seen it written by first mothers, or "bmoms" which I also find to be a really weird way to refer to oneself. I mostly call L's first mother her mother, unless I am in a situation that warrants clarity, and then I use first mother.

Another weird one is "birth grandmother" what does that one mean?

A little funny- If L asks me "why" and I use the "because I am your mother, that's why" she tell me "you are not my mother." (Oh the uncomfortable looks that occur if someone else happens to hear this) When I ask her who I am she says "my mommy."

She knows her first mom is her mother, and I am her mommy. She's 3. She's not confused.

Lorraine Dusky said...

Thanks Linda. I did meet her adaughter once but I wasn't sure if she knew I was the wild woman of birth mothers, so I said nothing. I cannot tell you how often I have wanted to ask her amom, how her "adoptive daughter" was. I know she was be shocked shocked horified! that I had the chutzpuh to say that. But I can't make myself do it. I have to see her every now and then in the outer circle of our social life. She frequently races over to be friendly.


ms. marginalia said...

I agree, Trish, "birth grandmother," like "birth brother" or "birth uncle" or "birth cousin," defies reason. I have definitely seen more self-naming "beemommies" use "bchild" than other groups, although in discussions others will hop on the "bchild" wagon.

ms. marginalia said...

Lorraine, I hate that kind of fake solicitousness you describe. Ugh. I hear you on not wanting to hold back! My Midwestern upbringing makes it difficult for me to be as direct as I wish I could be sometimes. It's like I have a safety lock on my behavior.

Von said...

I was a baby, a child, an adult and a daughter.If I have to distinguish, the adopters get the 'a' and my mother is always but always my mother.Never gives me a problem.

ms. marginalia said...

Thanks, everyone. It helps me to hear others' viewpoints.

Orion Silvertree said...

I was adopted at the age of seven weeks - I'm nearly forty-three years old now.

I use the terms "mother" and "father" for my adoptive parents, and always have. "Birth mother" never sat quite right with me, and anyone who used the phrase "real mother" got a quick, sharp rebuke.

I settled on "dam" and "sire" to refer to my genetic parents - but I quickly learned to use those terms only with friends who would hear them as terms from Shakespeare, not terms from animal husbandry.

ms. marginalia said...

Orion, I understand the parental terms, although I think the ones you use definitely cannot escape the double connotation, and even Shakespeare played on that. But it's up to you. Are you in reunion?

How would you feel if someone called you a "birth child"? More specifically, would it bother you if your dam or sire called you their "birth child"?

Orion Silvertree said...

You know what? I just re-read your original post, and it's completely different from what I read the first time!

First time through, I somehow missed the fact that you were specifically questioning the phrase "birth child" and not the group of terms "birth mother", "birth father", etc.

I am in reunion, or working toward it. I found my original mother via an inquiry a friend of hers posted on the WWWeb in 2009. We're in the thick of exchanging eMails now, and we've sent our DNA off to be tested.

She and I have discussed the issue of terminology. She calls me "son" and I, to eliminate the whiff of the barnyard, call her "Dame". We both agree that "Mom" is already spoken for.

I would have found the phrase "birth child" or "birth son" awkward, but not offensive - then again, I have Asperger's Syndrome, so emotion and language don't interact in my mind the way they do in most other people.

I also coined the terms "metafamily" to refer to my relatives by adoption and "parafamily" to refer to my relatives by genetics.

ms. marginalia said...

The process of getting to know someone you're related to via genetics, but who is a stranger otherwise, is quite difficult. I, too, am working through that, and will be meeting my first mother on Friday of this coming week. I call her by her first name when I talk to her, as we have a friendship, and that works well for us. My kids also call her by her first name. It's not confusing.

I like your terms "metafamily" and "parafamily." Whatever helps adoptees to make sense of things is great! Too often the industry or others tell us how to think, or what language to use.

Are you taking a DNA test because you're not confident that you've found the right person? It must feel so unsettling to be in that position. To have made a connection but not to be sure that you have the right match. Was there a CI involved? I hope everything moves ahead for the both of you as smoothly as possible!

Orion Silvertree said...

We're both convinced we've found the right person - there are so many physical, circumstantial, and psychological similarities that we're assuming a match at this point.

We're doing the DNA test for two reasons: her family and mine deserve the reassurance that she and I aren't just swept up in wishful thinking; and she and I have decided not to physically meet until the possibility of mismatch has been scientifically disproven (you know, as much as it can be). We've already established a deep connection just by writing letters, but if we meet and fall in love (so to speak) and then find out we've made a mistake, it would be devastating.

We didn't use a CI. Well we did, sorta, but only very informally. The searching post was created by one of her friends, and my initial contact was with her via eMail. We only exchanged two or three messages apiece before she forwarded them on to my paramother, and from that point on we've been in direct contact.

ms. marginalia said...

I can see where a DNA test would be good just to put things to rest. In my case, I have a hereditary blood disorder that's rare-ish, and I have it, C, has it, my brother A has it, etc. Everything else matched up, but with the blood disorder, and our family resemblance, and match of the data about the circumstances/location of my birth, and C's account, we knew were were a match.

I guess in that case, my blood disorder has been a gift. It made things less easy for my first family to blow off.

I think it's great you are exchanging e-mail and taking things slowly. I have been talking on the phone, on and off, to C for about a year and a half now. Meeting is not something that we rushed into, at all, and I let her set the pace. It seems a good idea to let the less comfortable person drive things, so that no one feels overwhelmed (if that's possible).