I’m an adoptive mom, but it’s rarely something I share when I meet someone simply because it doesn’t seem relevant. When I talk about myself and how many children I have I just answer the question, two with one on the way and share their ages and their names. That’s it. It never even dawns on me to mention that I am an adoptive parent. Not because it’s not important. Not because it was such an easy process that I’ve forgotten, quite the opposite actually. Not because it isn’t always on my mind, but it often doesn’t seem appropriate to single out my adopted child from the others until someone brings it up.
November is National Adoption Awareness Month and I never in a million years thought I’d be here writing about it with a personal story all my own, but I am. I’m proud of my son and know this will always be a part of his story, so here are a few things we want you to know about adoption.
**I do realize that most comments and statements made to us are not intentionally mean, derogatory or negative, but they’re often times received that way. This isn’t a list of things to not say, but more of an informative peek into our side of things.
I am his real mom.
“Are you his ‘real’ mom?”
“Does he know his ‘real’ mom?”
“Isn’t he your nephew?”
These are easily some of the most hurtful comments I receive regularly. While I realize it’s often meant with no negative intention, it’s received that way and is extremely hurtful. Yes, I am his REAL mom. In every sense of the word. He didn’t choose this life and in my particular situation, neither did I initially. However, his birth into our family in an untraditional way shouldn’t dictate who are his “real” parents. I love and care for him, provide for him, snuggle and kiss his boo boos, I nurture him and am molding him into the kind, grateful human that he is becoming. If that doesn’t make me his “real” mom, then I don’t know what does.
It’s different when you have your own.
This isn’t always brought up to adoptive parents, but it was said to my husband and I a lot during our foster care/adoption process while I was pregnant with our second child. I know that while our situation was very unique and our adoption didn’t happen due to infertility, there are a lot of adoptive parents who go on to get pregnant unexpectedly after they adopt and even more who don’t. It was said to us many times during my first pregnancy that it would be completely different parenting this child since he was “ours”. And at the time I was confused and scared. Were they right? Would I love this child differently because he grew in my womb while our first, adopted child did not? Come to find out every single person was wrong about that. There hasn’t been a single moment where I have loved or treated my adopted child differently than my biological child. I think this is one of those things that outsiders have a hard time understanding, but I can attest that having both adopted and biological children, my love for each of them is no different or worse. They are all equally my children and all cause me to drink the same amount of wine each night. 😉
I am not inspirational to have adopted him.
“That was so brave of you to take him in.”
“He is so lucky to have you.”
Being adopted isn’t a privilege to my child. I was not brave or inspirational. He will never have to feel grateful that I chose him or feel a special sense of gratitude for something that is inherently ours. I am the lucky one here. I am inspired by a little boy who had zero say in the matter of how his life was chosen FOR him, yet he has never skipped a beat in loving me unconditionally. I loved him before I knew he was my son. He is the inspirational one for letting me love him and call him mine.
A birth parent can be a selfless individual or not.
Sometimes birth parents do a very brave, selfless act by giving their children up for adoption, but not always. I will say in our particular situation this wasn’t the case, they didn’t have a say in what happened due to their own actions. However, birth parents who willingly give up their children in order to give them a better life, a better fighting chance because they aren’t able to? Those are admirable qualities. I will always have a special place in my heart for my son’s birth parents, but realize his destiny was already set in motion before the chips fell. Most adoptive parents will tell you their child was always meant to be in their family. There is a certain piece of the puzzle they fill that could’ve never been filled by anyone else.
Yes, he knows he is adopted.
While I don’t single out my adopted child from my biological children when parenting them or introducing them, he is very well aware that he is adopted (kind of… he’s only 3 years old so we’re working on it). Don’t mistake my omission for secrecy. It’s not relevant to always bring it up to outsiders, but it is very much a daily topic in our home. It is very important our child knows that he is indeed adopted and has a separate set of birth parents. I’ve done copious amounts of research, spoken with professionals and worrying myself sick over this. Will he feel betrayed by us or his birth parents one day? Will he love his birth parents more than me if he ever meets them? These are just a couple of the questions that enter into the equation into adoptive parenting. We do everything we can to not screw it up and still worry that we’re screwing it up.
Your continued support in our parenting decisions is extremely important to us.
Our parenting decisions will likely be different than some you may choose. Some adoptive parents choose to keep birth parents involved, some don’t. We’ve chosen the latter, but for our own very well thought out reasons. Everything we do, we do for the sake of our son and for his well being. We will always keep his best interest as a priority over other people’s feelings and emotions toward the situation. Sometimes it’s appropriate to have birth parents involved, but not always. It is so important to adoptive parents that you support our decisions, whether or not you agree with them. Chances are you won’t and that’s okay. We ask that you respect we are the parents and do not make decisions based on our own feelings, but simply are trying to be the best parents we can be and pray that those decisions are the right ones.
Adoption is hard, confusing and stressful. But is equally amazing and unlike anything I’ve yet to experience. My forever favorite quote I often look back on is this one, “You grew in my heart instead of my tummy.” Truer words have never been written. My love grew for my son in such a different, miraculous way that can never be compared to anything or replicated. While I did not get to grow him within my womb and deliver him, his entry into our family is one we will never forget and is just as meaningful. God perfectly placed him into our lives. He was our first baby boy, our first snotty nose, our first all-nighter & our first love.