I’m a mother to a beautiful child. She’s everything I had always hoped she would be, and more. My love for her is rich and deep and unconditional. I cherish our family vacations and visits to the park, and I especially enjoy watching my daughter dance. But, it wasn’t always that way. I was once an empty, heartbroken young woman who had lost two babies to miscarriage. Back then, I feared I would never become a mom. Adoption changed that, and even more importantly, it taught me a thing or two about love. Here is what I have learned:
1.) You can love a child not born to you, as your own. Many people wonder if having a child through adoption is somehow inferior to giving birth. Although I never saw it that way, friends and relatives did question my choice. I heard all the typical comments and concerns: “Don’t you want a child of your own?” “Maybe now that you’ve decided to adopt, you’ll get pregnant!” Some even remarked how selfless we were for wanting to raise someone else’s child.
What they failed to realize: Having a child to love and care for was our primary goal. It wasn’t necessary to carry on our genes or the family name. We didn’t need our daughter to look like us or behave like us. And, even though some well-meaning friends and relatives insisted I should keep trying to get pregnant, I was happy with my decision not to. I made a conscious choice to build my family through adoption. It was the path that felt right to me. I never questioned whether or not the child who joined our family would be “our own.” I knew she would be, since family is about much more than simple biology.
Can you love a child who is not your flesh and blood the same way you would love your biological offspring? Absolutely. We loved our daughter the moment we first saw her, and our bond has grown ever since. We may not share the same genes or have the same temperament, but our family connection is like any other. She is our child, and many times we even forget she was adopted. Other adoptive parents I’ve talked to feel the same way. One woman who has both a biological daughter and a son through adoption confessed she was concerned she would feel differently about her children. Her fears quickly vanished once she held her son in her arms for the first time. It didn’t matter how her kids joined her family. She loves them the same.
This popular adoption quote sums it up nicely:
Not flesh of my flesh
Nor bone of my bone
But still miraculously my own
Never forget for a single minute
You did not grow under my heart
But in it
— Fleur Conkling Heyliger
2.) Love doesn’t take away the pain. Adoption does indeed bring plenty of love. However, it’s important to remember it doesn’t cure infertility or erase the past. Grief and loss become a part of you, forever etched in your soul. My daughter is the light of my life. Yet there are still times I cry over the pain and suffering I experienced. This is especially true when I see another woman aching for a child or grieving for the one she lost. I will never forget the struggles I endured or the losses that led me to where I am today. My story is marked by both heartbreak and triumph, sorrow and joy. It is a complex mix of emotions and experiences.
Your pain doesn’t just vanish after an adoption. This is true for both adoptive parents and birth parents. Those who have struggled to have children, or who have experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth will need to mourn and find peace. Similarly, biological parents who follow through with the difficult decision to place their babies for adoption will both love and grieve their children for the rest of their lives. They will never forget. No amount of love or scheduled visits can change that.
3.) Your child will have twice as many people who love her. When you adopt a child, she brings a history and heritage with her. Along with having you as parents, she will have another full set of parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Those people — no matter where they are or how often they have contact — are still family too. They will love your child, marvel over her accomplishments and look forward to receiving pictures and updates. Even if they’ve never met, the connection is still there.
I learned, firsthand, how neither time nor distance can weaken the love between a parent and a child when our daughter’s birth mom passed away. Although our daughter last saw her biological mother when she was only hours old, she cried and grieved as if they had established an ongoing relationship. Since then, she has told me many times she’s certain her birth mother is watching over her. Whether you believe in this phenomenon or not, love is powerful and adoption multiplies that love.
4.) You haven’t fully loved until you love a child. Before I became a mom, I was a wife, daughter, sister, aunt and friend, I was quite certain I knew what love was and had experienced the full depth of the emotion. I was wrong. Life took on a whole new meaning when I had a child. My love expanded. My heart overflowed. I have never loved so deeply, or completely, as I do now. Somehow, the love you feel for your child is different. It is a bond like no other, and you would do anything to make sure she is healthy, happy and safe.
My life changed in ways I had never imagined the day our daughter was born, and yours will too. When you hold your precious baby in your arms for the first time, you will experience a rush of emotions. And from that day forward, you will truly know what unconditional love is.
Award-winning author Deanna Kahler is a proud mom and freelance writer with more than 20 years of professional experience. She is passionate about adoption and seeks to inspire others and make a difference in their lives. When Deanna is not busy writing, you can find her outdoors. She enjoys spending time with her family — hanging out in parks, near lakes or anywhere that can soothe her soul. Check out her webpage at www.deannakahler.com. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter. Her book, From Pain to Parenthood, is available on Amazon.