Sunday, November 22, 2009


I recently had a conversation with a woman regarding adoption. She is in the position where she and her husband have been discussing it as a possible option. However, she is afraid to pursue it. What if after they adopt, she and her husband are able to conceive? She is afraid that she won't love the child the same. She's heard of it happening and wonders, "Does it make a difference?" She's decided for herself that it would surely have to make some sort of difference. She longs to share that bond with a child that you can only experience when you carry that child. She wonders how anything could compare to that bond. She doesn't doubt that you can love an adopted child. She even acknowledges that you can love the child just as "much" for all outward appearance, but surely you feel something different for a child that you carried and bore. How could the adopted child bear to grow up faced with that difference every day?

I found myself wanting to share my experiences with her. I wanted to shout that of course you love them just as much. Doubts as to whether she would really be interested in my story kept me from sharing. For you see, I haven't ever really been in that situation. I've never adopted a child. My circumstances are similar, but it's not the same. Then a mutual acquaintance suggested that I might have some insight.

I told her that she's right, she would love the children differently. I have three biological children and I love each of them in different ways and have different emotional responses to each, but I'm sure any mother with more than one child has told her the same thing. However, I also have another child. She isn't mine. She will most likely never be mine, but she feels like she is mine all the same. And I do love her. Oh, how I love her. I didn't love her the moment that I first saw her - I didn't know that I would have to. But the time came when I realized that she needed someone to love her. She was 3 weeks old, tiny, sick and needed someone to put her first, ignore the risks and just open their heart...and I was the only mother in the room. I can't say that I freely did so, it was terrifying, but I did it all the same. I was her mother for 18 months, then I had to give her back.

I said that the cold, hard truth is that with every child, natural or adopted, you have to decide to love them. You simply have more time to do that before you meet the child with the children that you carry. In some cases, that is truly lucky for the child! (Let me tell you about the first few weeks with my middle child sometime!) But whether it is a magical moment when you first see the child or a gradually growing bond, in the end, love is love is love.

That isn't to say that I don't feel incredibly blessed that I was able to have children naturally. I do acknowledge that it is different. I enjoy seeing my husband, myself and other relatives reflected in my children. I was a big believer in nurture over nature in that age old debate, but many of those beliefs have been turned on their head as I saw facial expressions and personality traits that had to be inherited making an appearance.

But in the end, I don't love "my" children because they remind me of someone. I love them for who they are. And I love the child that isn't really "mine" for the same reason.

No comments: