When You Hear Your Child Call Someone Else Mom

Julie knew her daughter would call someone else Mom when she made her adoption plan. But what she knew and what became reality the day she actually heard it happen were two different things.

“I honestly felt a little like my heart was torn out,” she said of that day several years before. “I was torn. I was so happy to hear my daughter bonding with her adoptive mom, but suddenly I felt all the old doubts return. Had I made the right decision?”

Heather remembered a similar feeling once when she was visiting her son and his family during the holidays. “I heard him call out ‘mama,’ and I turned before I realized he didn’t mean me. I still hope to this day that his mom didn’t see the look on my face because right then and there, I felt overwhelmed and a longing that I can’t quite describe.”

Birth mothers often talk about what it feels like to hear their children call another woman Mom.

You want the adoptive parents to bond and love your son or daughter. But sometimes you feel the overwhelming grief that accompanies the reality of hearing and seeing that bonding take place.

“It can’t be described, I don’t think,” Julie shared. “Just the idea of it feels like two parts of me are at war, and I hate that. I know ultimately I made the best decision, the right decision, but I still wonder what might have been. That’s just the truth.”

When you hear your child call another Mom or you see them hugging and loving on their parents, you will feel all those mixed emotions. When that happens, return to all those skills you learned early on when you first made an adoption plan.

  • Give yourself permission to feel what you’re feeling
  • Breathe and journal your feelings
  • Call your adoption counselor and let him or her know you’re struggling
  • Write a new list of the reasons why you chose adoption to begin with
  • Give yourself grace

“I knew I was feeling something strong in the moment; but, that if I gave myself space and time, I’d be able to think clearly again about why I made an adoption plan to begin with. That helped me push through,” Heather said.

Ultimately, you will still struggle some days. But, as you continue on this journey, you will find that you are better equipped to push through. One day at a time, one moment at a time.