What not to say

One of the highlights of my weekly routine is listening to the "This American Life" podcast in my car on the way to/from work. I love a good story (even more so when it is true), and I've always enjoyed the way "This American Life" weaves together different tales with a central theme. Ira Glass is the host and he does a great job of narrating the stories and interviewing the storytellers. The fact that I love an NPR program this much . . . it means I'm getting old, right? The other day I was watching a particularly amusing episode of Spongebob Squarepants. It was the one where Patrick is telling Spongebob how to become a mature adult. At one point Patrick says, "And now you have to develop an appreciation for free-form jazz!" I laughed out loud because I have long said that once I start listening to jazz, it's all over.

But, back to NPR. I hooked up my iPod in my car on Tuesday and started to listen to the most recent podcast. The theme was "home movies." Ira narrated an introduction wherein a woman was watching a home movie. You could hear the sounds of a projector whirring away. The woman was studying the movie intently because she was curious about one particular person who appeared on the screen. Then Ira said this: "She is adopted and she thinks this may be her real mother." I stopped listening on the spot. I couldn't be sure if he would continue using negative adoption language, and I didn't want my jaw clenched for a solid hour.

Adoptive parents are used to people not knowing the correct terms to use in relation to adoption. Most of us have been knocked around quite a bit in the journey to parenthood but even so, I wouldn't say we are overly sensitive in general. However, I was surprised to hear the term "real mother" used by a radio host/personality, someone who should really know better.

My daughter has a birthmother who loves her very much. I think about A's birthmother every single day. She gave birth to this beautiful child and she is the only reason I am a mother. I would never try to diminish her role in any way. The term "real mother" is just insulting all the way around. My daughter has a mom and a birthmom. From the moment she was born , I have taken care of A's needs. When she was a baby, I got up three times a night to feed her and changed the vast majority of the diapers. I take her to the doctor and make sure she eats well. I buy her clothes and everything else she needs (and lots of stuff she doesn't need). I read to her at night. I floss her teeth. I laugh at the "Guess what? Chicken butt!" joke every time she tells it. I hug her tightly every day of her life and tell her that I love her with all my heart.

What, exactly, do I need to do in order to be her "real" mother? Hmm, Ira Glass?