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Jealousy in Open Adoption?

It only gets in the way

by Dawn Friedman  |  3366 views  |  2 comments  |        Rate this now! 

When people find out that Jessica, Madison's birth mom, is part of our lives they inevitably want to know if I'm jealous of Jessica.

No, I don't get jealous. I might have if Madison had been our first child – I was certainly jealous about her older brother, Noah. He's our biological kid and my poor mother-in-law, Pam, had an emotional obstacle course to run before I was able to make room for her.

I was an insecure first-time mom and looking back now, I can see that I was afraid of being supplanted in his affections. I had a hard time honoring Pam's right to have a relationship with Noah (it hadn't even occurred to me that he had a right to her, too) and it was at least a year into parenting him before I eased up and stepped out of the way.

No one told me that the solution to all of my jealousy problems was to stop Noah from seeing his grandparents. Of course not. People told me just the opposite; I had to let him go to see that he was never mine to begin with. I had to give him the gift of other people to understand that it didn't erase the gift of myself.

So no, I don't get jealous of Jessica anymore than I get jealous of anyone else who loves my daughter or whom my daughter loves back. Sure it might seem like I have more to lose since Jessica and I share that coveted title "mother" but truly, there's room for both of us. Just like there's room for more than one grandparent, more than one sibling, etc.

If I did feel jealous, I'd see it as my problem. I wouldn't stop Madison from having a relationship with Jessica anymore than I'd stop either of my kids from hanging with their grandparents.

Good mothering means helping our children find other people who will celebrate who they are. It means understanding that we can't be – and we shouldn't be – the only meaningful adults in their lives. My kids need the other people who love them – their grandparents, their cousins, teachers and friends. And my daughter needs her first mom. Needing these people doesn't negate their need for me or for their dad. There's room for all of us and the people who love and cherish them only enrich my kids' lives.

About the Author

Dawn lives and writes from her home in Columbus, OH. Her work appears in magazines including Wondertime, Utne and Brain Child; she has been blogging at This Woman's Work since 2001, and also blogs for Anti-Racist Parent and manages

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2 comments so far...

  • For a long time I was insecure and angery about my adopted children having contact with their birth mother until one day I realy relized how blessed I am and that I am truely greatfull for the gift she gave me.
    Due to her drug addiction, I have limited her contact with the kids when they were younger, but now that my 2 oldest adopted kids are teens they have established a friendship wtih her and they have great boundries with her.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Brandy @ on 10th October 2008

  • That's really beautifully articulated, Dawn. Thanks!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Diane on 28th June 2008