Seven years. Two miscarriages. Two years in the adoption process. That’s what it took for me to finally become a mom. It wasn’t a title that came easily, and I wear it proudly and gratefully. Being a mom is no doubt the most challenging and rewarding experience I’ve ever had. Adding to my complex mix of emotions, challenges, and realizations, is the fact that I am also an adoptive parent. I’ve learned so many important lessons along the way, and today I’d like to share some of those insights with you. If you’re hoping to adopt or just plain curious, these are five things I’ve learned because I’m an adoptive parent.
1) You can love a child not born to you as your own.
Some people question the bond between an adoptive mother and a child. Will you love the child as your own? Will you feel a connection? Is the love you have for an adoptive child the same as the love you have for a biological child? In my experience, the answer is yes! I’ve loved my daughter from the moment I first saw her in the hospital. I’ll never forget holding her in my arms and looking down at her in awe as all new parents do. We may be different, but our bond is strong. I couldn’t imagine loving her more if she were born to me. And I’m not the only one who feels this way. So many adoptive parents I’ve talked to agree. In fact, one mom who has both a biological and adoptive child happily told me that the love she feels for her children is the same. Genes are not what makes a family, love is.
2) Many people don’t understand adoption.
“Aren’t you afraid the birth mom will want her back?” they ask with concern. No, I’m not afraid because adoption is permanent. Once the papers are signed and the court appearances are over, birth parents cannot change their minds and reclaim a child. And despite the popular belief that adoptive parents are saints for raising “someone else’s child,” we’re all just regular people who chose to form our families in a different way. Our daughter is our child, and we are her parents, just like any other family.
3) I’m a “real” mom.
A biological mother is often referred to as the “real” mom. But you don’t need to share genes or give birth to be a real parent. Every tear I’ve wiped, story I’ve read, or dance recital I’ve proudly attended makes me just as much of a mom as anyone else. I’ve been there for my daughter every step of the way—from her first bottle to the sleepless infant nights to her first words and tiny, wobbly steps. I’ve provided countless words of encouragement, attended numerous school functions, and worried many nights when she was sick. It doesn’t get more real than that.
4) Adoption is both happy and sad.
While adoption can be wonderful, it isn’t all sunshine and roses. The day our daughter was born, my husband and I experienced just about every emotion you can think of—joy, fear, excitement, and sorrow. We were understandably happy we were about to become parents, but so sad for our daughter’s birth family. As we were about to start our new life as a family, they were preparing to say good-bye to their child. It’s a tough situation. You can’t have adoption without loss. You can’t experience the joy without facing the sadness.
5) Life can take you on unexpected journeys.
When I first decided I wanted to become a mother I assumed, like most hopeful parents, that I would get pregnant and give birth. But my journey to motherhood was much richer and more challenging than I ever anticipated. Through my tears, struggles and disappointments, I ended up on an incredible path that led me to my amazing daughter. Although what I went through to become a mom was devastating and heartbreaking, I truly believe I ended up exactly where I was supposed to be.
I’ve learned so many things as an adoptive parent. But two stand out in my mind: Adoption is a blessing, and motherhood is one of life’s greatest treasures.