When my husband and I decided to adopt, we anticipated the child we’d be matched with would need time to adjust to our family.
He/she would need time to trust us, to bond with us, and we were told, some children had trouble with that. But we were willing to give it everything we had.
In 2012, two beautiful children arrived, and I immediately lost my heart to them: A boy and a girl, he older, in the late stages of their court case. Their mother would lose her rights—it was certain—and their father was still in question.
They walked into our house, holding hands and looking at us warily. Our two girls met them at the door and immediately invited them to play.
After the social worker told us their story and when to be at court, she stayed a bit to chat and make sure the children were comfortable before leaving. As soon as she got up, our son took his sister’s hand and began to leave with the social worker.
My husband stepped in and said, “You can stay here if you want. Let us take care of you for awhile.”
Our son paused, looked at his sister, and nodded.
That was over six years ago, and now that we are approaching our annual Gotcha Day, that moment seems like an eternity ago.
During our journey to adoption, people asked a lot of questions like, “Are they siblings?” “How are they adjusting?” “Are you sure you want four kids?” “Aren’t you worried about _____ [insert multiple concerns here]?” “Isn’t it expensive to adopt from foster care?” (It’s not.)
But the one question that set me off-center came from a friend: “How do you love them?”
“Excuse me?” I asked, sure I’d heard her incorrectly.
“How do you love them? Because they really aren’t your children.”
For anyone who knows me, I’m rarely lacking in responses, but this one floored and really annoyed me.
How do I love a child? A child that’s not genetically part of me?
As tactless as it might seem (and it is), the question had fallen through my mind as we crept forward toward adoption day.
It wasn’t that I couldn’t love a child—no, that wasn’t my concern. I loved my children, all four of them. But could I love another woman’s and another man’s child as though I had birthed that child myself? Would I be unable to determine the love I had for our older two compared to our younger two?
The concern stuck around for the first year after the adoption had been finalized.
All along, I loved my children, but in my heart, there was the smallest gap between our two oldest and two youngest. It bothered me. I treated them all the same, loved them dearly, but I didn’t like that tiny space in my heart.
About a year after the adoption finalized, we received almost a dozen letters from our children’s bio mom. We’d promised to send letters to the bio parents and set up a post office box where they could send any communication they wanted. Some of their letters included newborn photos—a wonderful gift for our children and us.
The mother, a former foster child herself, wrote long, heartfelt letters about how she hoped they were well and thriving. And she wrote that as much as she missed them, she knew they were safe because they were out of the chaos of her life—a tragic and honest reality of her world.
In one sitting, I read all of the letters and fell asleep crying.
That night, I had a horrible dream that I couldn’t get to my younger two children, that someone had taken them and I couldn’t find them. I could hear them and see them in the distance, but I could never get any closer.
I woke up sobbing and panicked. It is every parents’ nightmare. But after I gathered myself, I realized that tiny gap in my heart had closed.
There was no longer any difference in my love for my older children versus my younger two. The ferocity of commitment to all of them was the same.
At that moment, I realized how I loved them.
I loved them with every fiber of my being, to the moon and back and every place in between.
I loved them as any mother would—without question.