The Other Mother

Living life as an adoptive or foster parent brings about several unique life realities. One of them is birth parents. Your children will always have 2 sets of parents. We have been fortunate to have good relationships with our children’s other parents. As much as it depends on us, we strive to keep them healthy and strong. We do this for our sake, but more importantly, our children’s. This post is by Kristin. I love her perspective on birth parents!


I pressed lightly on the brake as I listened to the “click click” of the turn signal. I gulped a breath of heavy air and relished in the uniqueness of this silence. It was that special kind of quiet, recently full of  spoken words. As I turned onto the empty street the conversation tumbled about in my mind. I glanced back at the apartment complex to see my son’s birth mom give a final wave. As I watched the city fade in my rearview mirror I thanked God silently not just for my son but also for his Other Mother.

We had just completed a lengthy discussion about the state of affairs with our shared child. On paper, it would seem that I am the mom that should have all the answers. I am the one who took over the parenting responsibility when she no longer could. I have always had the upper hand, more money, more education, stable upbringing, and freedom from addiction. On paper we seem to have nothing in common. But, in reality, we share the thing that matters the most- our son.

So many of our conversations consist of me encouraging her as she makes her way in life, struggles with guilt and tries to make a better future for herself. This time she was my encourager, my strength and my voice of reason and wisdom.

This conversation was one of our most difficult. I had to tell her that our son is currently in residential treatment. I had been holding back for weeks because I just didn’t want to admit that his mental illness was completely out of control. I didn’t want to admit how ill equipped I was to deal with his extreme behaviors. Mostly, I didn’t want her to feel I hadn’t held up my end of the bargain when I adopted him.

I promised to care for him. I was afraid that she might think his behavior was my fault. I was afraid she would think I was blaming her. My fear was nearly paralyzing as I haltingly shared the details of what brought our family to this point. I finished by saying, “I miss him.” My voice trailed off as my eyes welled with the tears I desperately didn’t want her to see.

Her response stunned me.

“I know you feel sad, and I know you miss him but you have to let him get to the bottom before he’ll ever want to climb out of this hole. He’s making this choice, not you. You have to let him suffer this consequence even though it hurts you to see him hurting.”

She then proceeded to tell me her story.

We talked for over an hour about the road she walked before we met. She told me of 13 foster and group homes. She told me of abandonment, fear and shame. She told me of misplaced rage and the failed relationships it led to, including the one with our son. She let me take a peek into her soul.

She never made an excuse for her choices. She shared the hurt others had done to her but never allowed the conversation to stay there. She admitted the hurt that she had done. She described the dark cavern of life she had been hurled into as a child and described how her choices had dropped her deeper and farther away from hope.

She ended by telling me that there was a moment, when life was at it’s darkest that she knew she was at the bottom of that hole. She knew that she was repeating the cycle of abuse, anger and abandonment that she learned growing up. In that moment, she picked herself up, looked at the tiny glimmer of hope that was left in her life and said, “ENOUGH! It’s time to cut this out. It’s time to change!”

I was thankful for the story. I needed to hear someone else say that all is not lost with our son. There is hope for him and for his future. I am so thankful for his birth mom. I am lucky that my son also has the love of his Other Mother.

Question: Adoptive or foster parents: how are you navigating the relationship you have with your children’s birth parents? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Get our latest eBook for FREE!


Let’s be honest: parenting is exhausting. You feel worn out, foggy & can’t remember the last time you got a full night’s sleep. That’s why we’ve put together a FREE guide with easy-to-apply, rest multiplying hacks for busy parents. You’re just 9 days away from feeling rested, refreshed & reenergized!

We will never share your info with anyone! Powered by ConvertKit

Please note: We reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • disqus_rIFGSiiSqS

    you are an amazing woman Kristen Berry….I am so grateful that you are in my life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! this is Jenni Hadden by the way

    • We are grateful for you too!

    • Kristin Berry

      Thanks friend. I appreciate you always being there to encourage me to be a better mom.

  • Gloria R.

    Kristen… I have goose-bumps a little. It amazes me how the Lord has used your writings to touch my heart. Why, I have been struggling with being “the other parent”, lately. I have presented this to the Lord, hoping to overcome the stuff that stirs in me when I think of my son’s “other family”. His birth mom wants to talk to me on the phone and keep in touch with him through his life. And I am all for that, except for this unwanted little fear that resides in me. We haven’t done the adoption yet, and she is still in jail (or is it pre-release?) and cannot yet meet with him. It would not be healthy for him yet. But the day will come, and I have no idea how that will look like. I have embraced her before, and I know she likes me… But the more attached I am to our son, the harder it seems for me to embrace her. I always try to think along the very lines you wrote, that we share this boy, that we both are his mom and we can offer him unique love, that she and I share… however different we may be from each other… But I am terrified I will fail as a foster/adoptive mom… My heart is mixed with courage and compassion to plain fear. The feeling of being “the other” is something I didn’t expect to have, and now here it is.

    What I really want is to love her as Jesus does, and I want to be a bridge of peace and love and forgiveness between them, with wisdom and discernment, while being his mom, the one he has needed and will need.

    Thanks for sharing. It helps so much to know that the feeling of being “the other mom” is normal.


    • Kristin Berry

      I could hug you! Thank you for your willingness to share your struggle. You are doing exactly the right thing by praying for The love of Christ toward your son’s birth mom.

      We do not have as open of a relationship with all of our children’s birth parents. Sometimes it isn’t healthy to talk or visit for a while. Sometimes birth parents aren’t as open to a relationship as we are. No matter what the circumstance, I want to be involved in my child’s relationship with his or her birth parents in the most positive way possible. It sounds like you want the same thing!
      Good luck as you navigate this tricky path and good luck with your adoption too!

  • I’m nearly in tears from your words. I remember a phase of parenting when it seemed like I was self-sabotaging all of my well-meaning parenting toward my older stepson. It was a period of self hate and marital anguish. (Remarriage makes parenting exponentially harder, IMHO.) And God spoke to me and said “I’m going to heal him, not you. Get out of the way.” In that moment, I saw my parenting as a vehicle of ego and pride. If I truly wanted him to be better, I had to relinquish my role temporarily.

    The upside is that our relationship is not as strained. We have a better idea of what is inherent to him and how we influenced (if at all) him. Ultimately, he’s in God’s hands. He only needs one Perfect Parent in the Almighty, Wise and Perfectly Loving God.

    If RTC is best for him, then you putting him there is a wise parenting move. How merciful and wise his bio mother was in response to your “news.” It just reinforces to me, that every person has a nugget or more to teach others. We all have value. God bless his birth mother on her journey to living peacefully and well.

    Thank you for writing what other people won’t write about. Blessings~

    • Kristin Berry

      Thank you so much for telling a little bit of your shared parenting story. I love to hear how God is working! You are absolutely right about God being our children’s Perfect Parent 🙂