What makes a woman a mother?

“So, you’re not her REAL mother.” I had to breathe deeply as I turned and walked away, with two-year-old Allie in tow. 

So begins the article written by Karen Elliot about her experiences as a foster mother to Allie – a two year old girl who was taken directly into foster care after birth. As her foster mother, Elliot isn’t Allie’s legal guardian or her legal parent. There are many restrictions on what she can and can’t do for Allie, such as sign permission forms, cut Allie’s hair, and take her on vacation. But Elliot cares, and provides for, Allie on a daily basis – performing all of the duties that “real” parents do. She is the one who takes care of Allie when she is sick and comforts her in the middle of the night when she’s had a bad dream. She kisses Allie’s bruised elbows and knees and reads her bedtime stories.

And yet, despite being the primary caregiver to Allie like a parent does, Children’s Aid insists Elliot encourage her daughter to call her something other than “mommy”. Elliot is forced to meet with Children’s Aid every three months, and take instruction from Allie’s biological mother on how Allie should be fed, clothed and parented. Elliot, who is also raising her own children, begrudges the right of a woman who has never parented Allie to be able to instruct her on how she should raise her daughter.

Elliot feels that she is parenting Allie in the same way that she is parenting her own biological children, and feels that the word “mommy” accurately describes her role in Allie’s life. Apparently, Allie seems to agree with that perception.

Last week, I drove Allie to the Children’s Aid office for her regular visit and a social worker walked Allie to the front door where her biological mom was waiting. I heard the worker say, “Look! It’s mommy!” and then I saw Allie turn around, point to me and announce firmly, “DAT’S my mommy.” I had to smile.

Elliot feels that “raising a child is what makes you a parent”. The ability to be a good mother has “nothing to do with the uterus you came from”.

Read the full article here:

What makes a mommy? [Metro News Online]


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