When people find out my family was formed through adoption, foster care and two surprise biological children, they usually have a lot of questions. People are curious about the process and about why we made these choices. At some point in the conversation people will sigh and say, “We thought about adoption. . . but I just don’t think I could love an adopted child the same way I love my own.”
I know the correct answer (after I get past the twitch I develop when people use the phrase “my own” as though adopted kids aren’t your own) is to tell them that that’s a common concern, but the love is just the same. But the longer I’m a parent of kids both through adoption and kids that were born to me, the more I’m learning it isn’t actually the same. And that’s okay.
The reality is that I don’t love my kids the same because THEY aren’t the same. Their stories aren’t the same. Their needs and gifts and losses aren’t the same. My kids are unique and my love for each one of them is uniquely shaped and influenced by who they are and the kind of mom they need me to be. I don’t love them the same, although I do love them equally.
There are times I look in my son’s beautiful blue eyes and say, “I think you got those from my Grandma.” There are times I look in my daughter’s beautiful brown eyes and say, “Those look just like your birth dad’s beautiful brown eyes. Should we look at some pictures of him again today?” I don’t want to be afraid to point out their differences because of fear that my kids will interpret that to mean I love them less. They already know they’re different, but when we point out the beauty of those differences with love and affection for their history, it allows our children to embrace them.
When I was pregnant with my first biological child, I remember fearing that I wouldn’t love him as much as my adopted children. When you adopt a child, you have to be willing to walk through fire for them. There is the mass of paperwork to be filled out, the home study hoops to jump through, the long wait to be matched with a child, the court experience, and all the uncertainty that goes with the process. We knew when we pursued adoption and foster care that we were passionate about these kids. We did it with intentionality and a heart that would do whatever it took to be sure our kids were safe and loved. Would it be possible to love a child we biologically conceived the same way?