This is Part Five of a series on Adoption called Everything I Want You to Know About Adoption. To see the links to each individual post in this series, click the “adoption” tab on the nav bar at the top of the blog, or click here. I am in the process of answering a series of Adoption FAQ’s. If you have a question about adoption, feel free to ask. I promise to answer it in this series.
This is the secret question (fear) of most prospective adoptive parents.
This is the secret question of most people who have decided adoption is not “right” for them.
This was MY question.
Thanks to my oldest sister, I became an aunt at the ripe old age of 18 months. I spent my entire childhood squeezing my legs under the kiddie table at Thanksgiving with a dozen other children. I started babysitting my nephew and niece when I was in elementary school. I started babysitting other people’s kids when I was 12-years-old. I continued babysitting for many families through high school and college.
Loving other people’s kids was never an issue for me. But loving other people’s kids like they were MY kids? I wasn’t sure that was even possible. I mean, I like your kids. But after a while, I’m ready for you to come home and take care of them yourself. Know what I mean?
I figured it was the same way with adoption.
When I heard adoptive parents say they loved their adopted kids the same as their biological kids, I would think, “Yeah, sure, like I love all the people in the world the same: Ronald Regan, George Clooney, my husband, my pastor, my grandma and Fidel Castro. All exactly the same. Of course you do.”
Surely, there are degrees of love, right? Adoption must be similar. You naturally love your biological children more. And then, through no fault of your own, your adopted children get more of an obligatory/babysitter kind of love. I hoped this was not true, but I didn’t really see any way around it.
That is, until I adopted.
I began bonding with Elijah (then known only to us as Chili Baby) the very first time I heard he existed in his birthmother’s belly. The bonding continued when I sat across from his birthmother at Ruby Tuesdays and introduced myself.
And when she showed me his sonogram picture.
And when she took my hands and placed them on her 35-week belly to feel the baby kick.
And when I drove her to her last doctor’s appointment and heard his heartbeat.
And when I stood at her bedside and held her hand through the birth.
It didn’t happen overnight. The bonding grew slowly over the weeks leading up to his birth.
But when they swaddled that child up and handed him to me in that hospital room, I knew I was Elijah’s Mommy. Not his aunt. Not his babysitter. His MOMMY. Suddenly, there was no question whether or not I would love him. The love overtook me. Surprised me, even.
If you have more than one biological child, you know the kind of surprise I’m talking about. It’s the one where you are about to birth your second child, but as the blessed day approacheth, you freeze in fear, “How can I ever love this second child as much as I love the first. Worse yet…what if I DON’T?”
And then, finally, you hold your little wrinkly, pink-skinned bundle and realize the fear was for nothing. Somehow, with no effort at all, the heart miraculously expanded and your love expanded with it.
It’s just like that.
We are made in the image of God, and God is love. God doesn’t just “possess the quality of love.” God IS love. Therefore, I firmly believe that through God, we, too, can have an unlimited and miraculous capacity to love.
With Elijah, not only did I find myself loving him the same as my other two biological children, but I found myself feeling like I was talking about someone else entirely when I would tell his birth story (still do, actually). I mean, I know he was in another woman’s uterus. I was there when he came out. I can look at my son’s facial features and see his birth mother and birthfather—not me and Jon. But what I truly FEEL inside is that he came from me. Like I was literally the one who gave birth to him. I know this makes no sense. But, then again, neither does God’s love.
When we started the process of our second adoption, the thought never occurred to me that I wouldn’t love Elliana like I loved my other three children. It became an non-issue. God had already made it a moot point.
It may not work that way with in all adoptive families. I know for men (my husband included) the bonding may happen later–like when the child can catch a baseball. That’s okay. Just realize that, yes, absolutely, without a shadow of doubt, you can and you WILL love your adopted child(ren) as much as you would love any biological child.
I am praying for God to rock the world of a hundred adoptable children as a direct result of this series. You can help by (1) agreeing with me in prayer for this and (2) helping to spread the word about this series through your blog, facebook page or twitter. Thank you.