I have two children who are very much mine even though other women gave birth to them. What’s it really like being an adoptive mom?
Being an adoptive mom is like this conversation I had with my 8-year old son, Zack, the other day.
I Miss Her
Zack’s backpack is on his shoulders, his bright orange coat zipped against the western New York cold. We stand waiting for the bus to take him to his busy day of second grade work.
Because of his special needs, the bus comes right to our door.
“Mom, her – what’s her name again? I miss her.”
We had this exact same conversation yesterday – and the day before, and the day before that, so I know to whom he’s referring. Zack perseverates so we have conversations many times over.
“Jessica. Your birth mom.”
“Jessica. I miss her,” He tells me.
“That’s understandable,” respond, “Your birth mom is an important person.”
The last time he saw Jessica he was about a year and a half old. Surely he has no memories of her, but he has seen pictures.
“Maybe I’ll see her when I’m very old. When I’m 40.”
“Okay, that sounds like a plan.”
Adoption is Beautiful and Painful
Adoption is an incredible miracle, as giving birth to a child is a miracle. I have older biological children, so I’ve had the privilege of birth days and adoption days.
Each child was longed for, prayed over, and celebrated.
The distinct difference with adoption is that adoption starts with pain. A child is taken away from the mother who began life with him, and that mother is experiencing one of the most painful days of her life. Whether planned for or not, whether a wise and necessary decision or not, the disruption of this first relationship creates pain.
The beauty of adoption does not take away the painful, and the painful does not erase the beautiful. They co-exist.
What Being an Adoptive Mom is Really Like
My husband and I have 5 children, three who are biological and two who are adopted from foster care.
I’m a real mom. I clean up spills, poop and vomit. I cheer at games and get huge sloppy kisses. I yell at teenagers to pick up wet towels. I anxiously check my phone 50 times when kids don’t come home when they said they would. I do endless loads of laundry.
Yet there are differences.
I’ve learned that we as adoptive parents need to acknowledge this truth of the beauty and the pain of adoption for our children. At times we must allow our children space to speak about birth parents and sometimes, as painful as it is, we bring up the conversation ourselves.
We make room in our lives for other parents because they are already there, whether physically present or within our children’s emotions only.
And we love — fiercely and forever.
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