When we first adopted Bean I think we were “drinking the adoption Kool-Aid”. There were so many thoughts and beliefs I had concerning adoption, how we would relate to our daughter’s birth parents and how we would discuss her adoption with her. But I’m not really sure that any of them were mine. They were what we were told to believe and so we did. We depended on the professionals somewhat blindly.
What I’ve come to learn about adoption after 2 years is this:
The same gut instinct that you use when parenting your biological child is the same one you should use when parenting the child you adopt. No child is exactly the same and no adoption is exactly the same. There is no one size fits all. Many different personalities (including your child) are at play and you have to take it day by day, your own way. Trust your instincts.
Adoption is beautiful and messy. It is flawed and perfect. It is emotional and it is forever. There is nothing like the finalization day and legally becoming a forever family.
Sometimes bonding takes awhile. It can be that way with biological children too and that’s okay. This is especially true when your focus is on the birth parents. Sometimes you have to work hard to remember that adoption is a choice. While it may not have been an easy one, it was still one your child’s birth parents made for their child and carrying guilt about that only hurts your own bonding.
As much as you want to believe that your child’s birth parents’ life situations will change for the better, after the adoption, sometimes they don’t. I believe I romanticized our daughter’s adoption and dreamed up a scenario where everyone had a “happy ending” but instead our daughter’s birth mom was pregnant again less than a year later. It was heartbreaking, especially since her situation was worse the 2nd time around than the first. I’ve had to learn to let go of the anger and realize I cannot force her to make different choices for her life, but I can teach our daughter to hopefully make better choices with the life she has been given, because of her birth parents. Always because of her birth parents.
The life Bean has is a gift FROM her birth mother and not TO us. No one sees a stranger and thinks, “She looks so nice I want to GIVE her my baby.” No, the gift was for her CHILD. That our daughter is a blessing to US is only the icing on the cake. She placed her daughter in our home because she wanted someone to help her make better choices, to have her experience a different type of life. I honor her by being a mother to our daughter. This is the life she wanted her child to have. I am the mother she chose for her and I will love her forever because of that. It’s impossible not to, because my daughter is a part of her and she is a part of my daughter.
After you cross the 2 year mark the focus is less on your child’s adoption and more on their personality. People ask less questions about their adoption and generally begin to stop questioning your every decision as if you don’t really have a right to make a decision. Where I used to look at Bean and see her birth parents, I no longer do. I just see Bean….and truth be told I see her father. She looks like my husband. Which is fitting because he hangs the moon in her eyes.
One day when you least expect it, you will look at your child and your heart will simply BURST. You will wonder what this feeling could be because surely you always loved this child, and of course you did. But somewhere in-between the social worker visits, birth parent letters, adoption finalization, diaper changes and temper tantrums; something changed. You let go of all the titles, preconceived notions about adoption, guilt, worry, fear and you just saw that you are your child’s parent and your heart is in their hand.
And no, there is no difference in the love you feel for your biological child and this child that came into your life by the miracle of adoption. None.