Zoe* is an adoption social worker, working for a local authority adoption agency. She is also an adoptive parent to her son Cain*, who was placed 8 years ago, and is now 10.
In my conversations with adoptive parents, Mother’s Day is often talked about, and in several different contexts too. It’s a time for us as parents to reflect and remember our children’s birth mums, and empathise how difficult the day is for those birth mums, it can be a difficult day for our children with conflict and divided loyalties appearing to be common themes (though not something I’ve experienced), and I know many adoptive families don’t celebrate or mark the occasion at all because it’s just too difficult.
On other celebration days mums seem to get it bad too – and in my own house my birthday is particularly difficult as my son struggles with the attention being diverted away from him and feels he should get presents too. However, other days such as my husbands birthday and grandparent’s birthdays go well, with no concerns on our part about how our son will handle them.
So with Father’s Day approaching, it’s reminded me about this disparity. Again, in our house, it goes OK. There are no concerns and we will ‘celebrate’ (I use that term loosely) with no worry that the day will be disrupted any more than usual.
I know that other adoptive families have this same imbalance. Mum cops all the flack, Dad gets an easier ride.
There are many reasons why children reject their adoptive mothers more than their fathers – perhaps it’s a way of protecting their previous relationships with their birth mother or foster carer, maybe it’s because women previously in their lives have hurt them, perhaps they’re too scared to get close, maybe they’re just going through a normal developmental period, maybe they’re enjoying the relationship of a father – something they might not have had before, some children display this ambivalent behaviour towards one parent to mask the fear that they are actually bonding well – there are many more reasons and speculations besides.
So I want to know more about how Father’s Day is seen and experienced by adoptive parents and their children. Do you celebrate? Does it cause problems? More or less than Mother’s Day? What about for single adopters? Do these days have different challenges for you? Is there any way we can prepare potential adopters to handle these challenging days better?
If you can answer Zoe’s questions, then please comment below and we’ll pass your responses on to her, though I’m sure she’ll be reading anyway.
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.