Someone in a China adoption Facebook group to which I belong posted a link to an article this past weekend that started quite a discussion. The article itself – entitled, “A Different Kind of Love: Does a mother love a child she has adopted in the same way she might love a birth child? And why is it such a taboo to ask?” – is old, but I still believe a response is appropriate. Most importantly, I want my own adopted daughter to be absolutely certain of my thoughts and feelings on the matter. And beyond that, adoptive families do receive questions (or sometimes statements) along the lines of the topics the article addresses, people wondering if they could ever love an adopted child as much as they would love a child biologically related to them, and I’d like to address that issue.
For those of you who want the short answer, I’m going to state it unequivocally here: I love all of my children immeasurably and uniquely but equally – none of my children are loved more than any other. Each one is beyond precious to me, loved with the entirety of my heart and being.
It’s true that there are differences in parenting biological children and adopted children, but the same could be said of boys and girls or babies born in summer and babies born in winter. The same is true of children with different personalities. As a parent, my job is not to have a mechanical set of procedures in place to be followed in exactly the same manner for each child. My job is to be thoughtful and discerning, studying each of my children, looking for their strengths and weaknesses, walking with each one through life and loving and guiding them in whatever ways they need.
For me, my love for my children began even as I learned just tidbits of information about who they were. Those 20-week ultrasounds and the referral pictures and documents were oh-so-precious in those months during which we waited to meet our children.
We didn’t have much information, but we knew a little, and we treasured that which we knew and made plans to bond with each of our kiddos upon their arrival. And when they did arrive…whether at birth or at age 2…we were smitten with them. They were ours, and for that reason and that reason alone, we loved them wholeheartedly.
We also realized that we had zero control over who they were! Each was a person in their own right with distinct likes and dislikes and needs and wants, only a few of which we could have guessed prior to their arrival. We needed to pursue each child’s heart and be thoughtful and intentional as we sought to create a bond with each one. We spent hours taking walks on beautiful days with that late-spring baby held close in the Moby wrap.
Our most recent baby, who needed to know I was nearby at night in order to sleep well, was kept close at night. And we employed a litany of strategies designed specifically to foster attachment with the child whom we adopted after she’d spent 2 years living in an orphanage.
Honestly, our attachment dance with Madeleine CaiQun has been and continues to be a joy – it has gone much more smoothly than we knew it might, and we know that others have much harder roads to walk. I don’t mean to belittle the very real struggles other families face in forming healthy relationships, whether with biological children or adopted children. However, attachment is not the same as love. And even beyond that, the love we have for our children cannot be dependent upon them – that’s not what love looks like. Self-interest might look like that…but love doesn’t.
Love looks like a Savior who knew that we would blow it, that we would turn away from the God of the universe and that we would fail at loving the people around us, so He came to earth and did it all for us, in fact gave His very life for us. And then one of His closest friends tells us, “We love because He first loved us.” We are enabled to love by virtue of His love.
All of our children, biological and adopted, have moments in which they are disrespectful, unkind, and just plain hard to love. And yet, I am their mother. I don’t love them because they obey, I don’t love them because they make me look good, I don’t love them because they’re fun, and I certainly don’t love them because they came from my body.
I love them because they’re my children – biological or adopted, they’re my children, and I love them to no end. And, God help me, if called to do so, I would give my life for each and every one of these precious souls, however they came to be part of our family.