The Other Mother

Author of 4 books, podcaster, parent trainer, wife and mother.

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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.

Adoptive or foster parents: how are you navigating the relationship you have with your children’s birth parents?

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Mike and Kristin Berry are the Co-Founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and have been parents for nearly two decades. They are the authors of six books, and the host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is the executive assistant to Mike and Kristin Berry. And she is the best in the land. In addition to providing a warm and friendly response to the many emails our company receives on a weekly basis, she also manages Mike and Kristin’s speaking and meeting schedules, and makes sure that team events go off without a hitch.

Nicole Goerges

Nicole Goerges is a Content Contributor & Special Consultant for The Honestly Adoption Company. She works with Mike and Kristin as a recurring co-host for the Honestly Adoption Podcast, and co-host of Kitchen Table Talks, exclusive video content for Oasis Community, along with Kristin. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and former foster parent.

Matt McCarrick

Matt McCarrick is the Content Production Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. If you’ve loved listening to our podcast, or enjoyed any of the videos trainings we’ve published, you have Matt to thank. He oversees all of our content production, from video edits, to making sure the tags are correct on YouTube, to uploading new videos to Oasis, to hitting publish on a podcast episode, he’s a content wonder!

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson is the Community Engagement Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends the bulk of her time interacting with, and helping, people through our various social media channels, as well as providing support for Oasis Community members through chat support or Zoom calls. In the same spirit as Beaver, Karen is also passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and supported. Karen is also an FASD trainer and travels often, equipping and encouraging parents.

Beaver Trumble

Beaver Trumble is the Customer Care Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. Chances are, if you have been in need of technical support, or forgotten your password to one of our courses, you have interacted with Beaver. He is an absolute pro at customer care. In fact, he single-handedly revolutionized our customer care department last year. Beaver is passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and encouraged.

Kristin Berry

Kristin Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Content Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends most of her time researching and connecting with guests for our podcast, as well as direction, designing and publishing a lot of the content for our social media channels, blog and podcast. She loves to connect with fellow parents around the world, and share the message of hope with them.

Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Marketing Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. He spends the bulk of his time and energy designing and building many of the resources you see within our company, as well as social media and email campaigns. His goal is to use media as a means to encourage and equip parents around the world. He is also the co-host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.