What's in a name? Page 12
Page 14
Denise's Story, Con't.....

What's in a name?

Why are some of us so obsessed with what someone calls us? Why is it important? We all possess different titles that change as we go through life. First, I was a 'child', then a 'daughter'. Next, I was a 'teenager' and then a 'girlfriend'. The names eventually progressed to 'wife' and then to 'mother'. I have held the title of 'mom' or 'mother' for several years so it's a natural name for me to respond to. I have three children that use that word exclusively when referring to me and there are several neighborhood children that call me 'Mom', as well. Why would I want my son, Kevin, to call me anything but the same?

I've held the title of 'Mother' for 24 years when referring to my son. It was important to me that Kevin regard me as his mother... not just 'birthmother' but 'mother'. In my way of thinking, to call me by my first name would signify that I am only to be a 'friend'. As wonderful as that would be, I wanted my relationship to develop into more than just a friendship. I wanted to be able to give him "motherly' advice. I wanted to hear about his troubles and give him some direction, as a 'Mother' would. I wanted to be able to console him or openly praise him about an accomplishment, as a 'Mother' would. I wanted to be free to comfort him, in a motherly way... because I am his 'Mother', too. How do I explain to Kevin that the title of 'Mother' has always been my title in our relationship.

For three solid days, Ruth and I exchanged emails, but there wasn't any kind of communication from Kevin. I was worried because I was so anxious to hear from him and to know how he was feeling about our reunion. I broached the subject with Ruth in the next email to her on Tuesday, 10 Sep 1996.

Dear Ruth,

I haven't heard from Kevin again beyond the first letter on Sunday evening. He is so articulate...........I loved reading his words.

I feel like I'm constantly holding back a continuous sob because I'm still in awe of what happened on Sunday. There's an "I can't believe that actually happened" feeling that goes through me, did they really say that? Did they really hug me as hard as I imagined? Did she really say that she's felt connected to me all of these years and that now she's willing to share Kevin with me, that I'm to be included in his future? Are they really going to let me bond with Kevin and act like a Mom to him? In a way, it all just seems like a dream, like a surrealistic movie that is playing over and over in my head. I guess I'm so scared that the bubble will burst and that all of these good things will end. I know I'm being foolish to think and say all of this, but I feel I can say anything and everything to you, and that you'll understand why I might have these feelings.

I hope you can understand this next part, too. Kevin is our son and you are his Mom, but I'm his Mom, too. I don't presume to be in the same category of "Mom" that you are, nor would it have the same connotation. I know it will take time, but I just don't want him to call me Denise. I don't want to be his "friend", I want to be one of his Moms. Am I being unrealistic? Am I asking for too much? I'm not asking for it soon, just sometime in the future when he feels comfortable with it. Please reassure me, please tell me what you think I should expect, or what Kevin might want? I need your imput on this, Ruth, because I know YOU know what I'm talking about.

Oh......... man, I got into something heavy again, and I didn't mean to. But, it's been weighing on my mind and I need to talk it out with you.
I look forward to your next email. Love, Denise

And Ruth wrote back...

I hope you don't mind, but I called Kevin to talk to him tonight about your concerns on the how he would address you. I had a feeling that might be on his mind, too, and sure enough, it has crossed his mind. I told him that would be between the two of you. I am very close to Kevin, and I don't find that threatening. So I think that is something the two of you will want to talk about. The only thing I told him is I don't want to lose the right to boss him around, or at least TRY to! Ha! Ha! Love, Ruth

I wrote back to Ruth...

Thank you, for calling Kevin. You don't ever have to "ask" permission from me regarding Kevin. You can do exactly what you want to, nothing in that department has changed at all. I just want to "enhance", not to take over. I'll put my 2 cents worth in, on occasion, but for now, I'm an observer until Kevin and I talk a little bit more to find out what kind of a relationship he wants with me. I am more or less, scared out of my wits. My feelings about this whole thing get put on the back burner because I'm so afraid that I'll say or do or expect the wrong thing from him. I'm just scared, is all. I love him so much, my heart aches. I want him to love me unconditionally the same way I love him, and I know that's going to take time. I am a patient person, I can be patient in this, too. I'm a strong person, but this whole situation has made me weak in the knees. It's a phase that I'll get through and laugh about when I'm old and gray. Whoops.........I'm gray already. Well, when I get old then! Love, Denise

The next email went out to Kevin later on that evening...

Hi Kevin,

I've been thinking about you, so much, in the last few days.

Your Mom and I have been sharing some wonderful and some painful memories in our emails to one another. I think we were cut from the same bolt of cloth, we share so many likenesses. She has become a true friend to me.

You were the talk of the Petoskey News-Review on Monday. I had so many women crying, they almost declared the property a flood zone. Our reunion was so warm and touching and unbelievable. I still can't get it out of my mind when I first saw you standing there outside of your back door. I thought, oh my God, there he is, this is really, finally happening. When you hugged me so hard, it was the most wonderful feeling in the world because I felt that you were touched by me, too. Thank you for the unforgetable hug. Thank you for the most wonderful reception that I could ever imagine. You are so special to me and I love you so very much.

I know your Mom talked to you tonight about how to address me. It's been on my mind and she said it had crossed your mind, too. Kevin, tell me how you feel about it? Tell me your thoughts and what you might be comfortable with? I will NEVER try to take away anything from your relationship with your adoptive Mom. That is not my intention at all. She is there and she is your rock. She was and is the heartbeat of your home in Petersburg. I would like to "enhance" her position. Not replace it or duplicate it, just enhance it. You are my son. You have always held that title, no matter where you were, or who you were with. Can you understand that I would like to be your "Mom", too? Not Mom #1, or Mom #2, just "another" Mom. Would you think about it a little and then get back to me? I love you, sweetheart. Your other "Mom"

Wednesday Morning...in an email from Ruth

I don't think you need to worry about Kevin loving you. He is a very loving person and always has been. He is also very considerate and kind. I've been very careful through the years to NEVER be negative about his birthparents and as the two of you get to know each other, the love will be there, I'm sure. I don't think it's a bad idea to be "friends". That's the goal I've always had with all my children when they are adults - to have them consider me a friend. I've made it with one. I just hope I make it with the other two. Just take it one step at a time and continue to be patient, hard as that might be, and everything will fall into place. Oh my gosh, I sound like a mother to you! :) I can't help it, because that has pretty much been my career through the years! :)

You asked what our family and friends have said about the reunion... Everyone, I share this with, is very happy for all of us, IF, it's alright with Dave and me. They, of course, are concerned with how we feel about the whole thing. When they see we are okay with it, they are too. There are some who are skeptical, but that's because they are letting their own negative or suspicious attitudes get in the way. Dave and I, like you and Terry, feel that we have found new friends. As I have said before, I feel like you've been in my life for 24 years. Even though you weren't in my forethoughts, I always wondered about you. I consider myself as Kevin's mom, but I always knew he had a birth mother and I kept his babybook and took all those pictures for BOTH of us. Denise, I know some people can't understand how I can be so "alright" with this, or have such faith that you are not a threat to me, but I feel the way I do because you put Kevin in my care for all these years and let me be a parent, when I so desperately wanted to be one, and I always felt grateful and loved you for that, even though I didn't know you. I just wish you could have known through the years that he was so special to us and loved so much and well taken care of and educated and treated as any good parent would treat their child. I can't imagine how awful that has been for you. But, all of that is behind us now and we can SHARE in a loving future. Don't be scared, just embrace it and revel in it. I think everything is going to be fine. Love, Ruth

A few minutes later, I received another email from Ruth...

Denise, I don't think Kevin would mind if I shared this with you. It is an email he wrote to my sister, Karen, yesterday, in answer to an email she sent him. I think it will give you some "warm fuzzies." :) :) :) Ruth

My next email to Ruth was to thank her for the copy of the email that Kevin had written to his Auntie Karen...

Dear Ruth,

Thank you for sending Kevin's email my way. That was exactly the confirmation I needed to help me understand that everything wasn't all onesided on my part. I cried and cried and cried. I don't know how to read Kevin's body language, yet, or how to interpret unsaid things. I know he squeezed me really hard, and when I said I couldn't let go yet, he kissed me on the cheek and said, "That's OK", and then squeezed me all the harder. I was so in shock, I couldn't comprehend the fact that I was actually standing there hugging Kevin.

You know him, better than anybody, but I don't yet. Other than the first email he wrote to the two of us, I'd not had any feedback from him as to what the day had meant to him. Here's this woman, barging into his life, crying uncontrollably, her face getting puffy and red from all of the boo-hoo-ing, her mascara literally running down her cheeks [now, that was impressive, huh?]. I wanted to look "good", not perfect, but I wanted to make an impression on him. Boy, did I ever, red face, puffy eyes and all. I look at the pictures and I think of what a wreck I looked like.

I emailed back to him on Sunday night and told him what the day had meant to me. I thanked him for accepting me and that there were moments that occured that were burned into my memory, because he allowed them to happen. I told him how I couldn't have asked for a more wonderful reception than the one Kevin, you and Dave and Julie gave to me and Terry. I wrote to him about Tif and Danielle and Ben wanting to know all about him and how thrilled they were that all of you would be coming up for a visit in 3 weeks' time. The last part I wrote to Kevin, I will quote verbatum: "Your Mom and Dad are the greatest and I have so much respect and admiration for them. God has touched both of our families by bringing us together in His time. Miracles do happen.............one on the 24th of January and one today."

So you see, I had poured out my heart to him and I still had not heard anything back from him by Tuesday, so, I wasn't sure if anything I had emailed had meaning to him. The letter he wrote to his Auntie Karen said what I NEEDED to know. Thank you so much for sharing it with me. Love, Denise

I received this email from Kevin 4 days later:

Subject: What's in a name???

Mrs Frederick,
-A title signifying respect from someone unfamiliar, or in a formal social situation.

-A more familiar form of given name used by friends and associates, and people closer to you on a casual social basis.

Mom, mama, Ma,
-terms of endearment used by your children when addressing or refering to you.

-a nickname for the internet - perhaps an amalgamation of your full name and family status!?

Dee, Deedee
-pet names perhaps givien to you by grandparents, parents, and elementary school friends.

-what that one odd co-worker called you behind your back (how terrible)




the list goes on ...

Birth Mother,
-the term used to describe you before we met.

-what you are, now that we have met.

-what you will become, after we get to know each other better.

I hope this helps. I had to ponder for a while. I did find that in talking to people after our reunion there was this natural shift in how I refered to you. You went from Birthmother to Mother without too much difficulty. And, as I have tried to say above, the formality of "mother" will probably change again in time with familiarity.


With my heart overcome with joy, I thought... Mother.........he's going to call me Mother....

Continue to the next page............

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This page was created 4 Jan 1998 and updated 5 Jan 1998
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