A common term in adoption quoted by adoptive parents, at least in those with turmoil, is a rescue mom. Sometimes there’s also a rescue dad or siblings or even an entire family. I’m not sure, as an adoptee, where this term originated or at what point an adoptee is said to have acquired a rescue mom {family} outside of the normal teen-hood behavior, but it often crosses my mind.

We live in a day and age where people are easily accessible, really only a few clicks away. It is in our nature, as humans, to desire connection and understanding and so often times we search for that connection on social media outlets, support groups, via text messages, or snail mail. We search for people who will understand us for who we are, or who we want to be, and who will tolerate us long enough to support us in whatever struggle it is we are having. We search for people who will fulfill the needs that are not being met in our day-to-day life with our day-to-day people. We seek to empty the seed of rejection and misunderstanding. I see this often, not only with myself, but also with hundreds of people every day. I’m part of a mixed group of people including adoptees, adoptive parents, siblings, and family members all struggling with the relationship piece of adoption—attachment, connection, bonding. Kids of these parents have left home and never returned; instead finding a new home surrounded by new people who will meet their needs differently than the “original” adoptive family. Just as a child goes off to college and finds solace via “other moms” these children leave home seeking that comfort…only perhaps a bit more dysfunctionally. It confuses me at this point when a parent or family member begins to belittle or encourage negative happenings towards the relationship between the adoptee and the “rescue family”—a term commonly used between adoptive parents in these groups. When a parent talks ill of the rescue parent and shames the adoptee. Weren’t you once a rescue parent, too? Bringing your child bigger and better things than their previous home? Hoping for the best and giving it all you’ve got? Providing your child with the understanding you thought they needed. Bringing a child into your home and working to understand them, cluelessly? And people were so grateful to you for “rescuing” your poor child.

At what point does a person become the rescue parent? Or when do they stop being the rescue parent and start being the actual parent? I know, as my adoptive mom and I have talked about it, that my adoptive parents believe that I moved here to live with Bailey and replace their family with hers. They believe that I came here to be rescued, to play the “poor orphan” card…and perhaps in a way I did. I had nowhere in that moment to go and here is the only place I knew people. I was asked to never return home, to my adoptives, where I was living was being torn down and I was flunking out of school. So, I weighed my options between here and two other states. I chose based on where I knew I’d get the most support and stability. It turns out that it was the best and hardest move I’ve ever made…but at what point did my adoptive parents deem Bailey my so-called rescue mom? When she encouraged me to move somewhere I’d have support? When she offered me a place to sleep when I had nowhere but my car? And when did Zhanna become my rescue sister? When she asked me to go out and catch grasshoppers with her or when she wanted to have a sleep over because we were having too much fun to actually go to sleep? And with Becca, did her asking me to family functions and offerings of support during dr’s appointments, hospital stays, etc make her my rescue mom? When did these people stop being my rescue family and start being my family? The moment they offered me a place to stay when I had nowhere to go. Was it the multiple times they endured the hateful comments or rages, both in anger and in calmness on their parts? Or the moment they looked into my fear filled eyes after I lost it, and they did too, and said, “no matter what, we will be here for you…” and have yet to abandon that promise though they’ve been given ample opportunity.

As an adoptee, moving on is so different from that. When I came here hoping for stability I also hoped for understanding. I hoped that someone, after 20 years, would hear me and help me through my pain. And I can only hope and believe that my adoptive mom has worked through the deep seed of rejection she feels I am thrusting on her and can understand the magnitude of how much she has helped me and the people here have helped me. I do not reject her, however, I also do not entrust her with my deepest secrets or darkest fears because I know that she cannot handle them. She knows she cannot handle them. I did not find a replacement for her as I know that once I am healthy she and I have the possibilities of having a good, solid relationship…. unfortunately she is not the right one to help me get healthy. She is not the one who is able to walk through my deep secrets with me. Perhaps, to her these people here will always be my rescue family…or perhaps one day she’ll realize that it is merely an extension of my already family…




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