Can you love adopted and biological children the same?
Maybe it’s a question people are afraid to ask, but the curiosity lingers. It’s human to fear what we’re not certain of… and it’s not really a selfish fear. The last thing we want is to adopt a child only to discover that we can’t give them all the love they deserve.
But as someone who has had children through birth and adoption, I’ve found that love doesn’t know how to be partial and it certainly isn’t weighted more deeply by flesh and blood.
Adoption, like birth, is a path to parenthood and doesn’t dictate our capacity to love. As I go through my normal day, I’m rarely thinking about the fact that my youngest is adopted. When I’m scolding kids for sneaking candy, reading books and chasing kids at the park, or apple picking together… I don’t compartmentalize my kids or have stronger feelings of joy, pride, irritation, or protection over one than another.There are certainly differences between adoptive and biological children: I can’t go hunting for pieces of myself or my husband in our adopted son. (Although honestly, sometimes that’s freeing because he gets to be himself- nobody can try to claim every piece of him!) I also can’t parent him expecting him to be “just like me” or “just like his father”. I may have a learning curve when trying to approach his unique personality and traits since I can’t chalk it up to a hand-me-down traits. Though at the same time, I can’t assume parenting my bio kids is easier just because we have genetic similarities.
All three of my kids have wildly different personalities and annoyingly varied responses to discipline. In fact, recently we’ve gotten professional counseling to help better parent one of our biological kids because even with shared DNA we don’t always have all the tools or wisdom to know what each child needs. I parent each child slightly differently, but my ability to love each is the same.
Here’s what I know about my adopted son:
- When he had trouble breathing during bad congestion, my mama heart was ready to take him to the ER, no questions asked.
- When he paints pictures at school I’m so happy to make room for them on the fridge.
- When he’s sad or left out my heart is sad with him (unless he’s sad because I made him return the tic-tacs he sneaked from my bag.)
- When he needs extra help with speech, I gladly advocate for him and find him the support he needs.
- When I tuck him in at night and he says “I lud you”, my heart melts all over again every time.
- When I look into his little face I’m so grateful that he’s mine, perhaps in a more profound way than even with my biological children. This doesn’t mean I love him more, but that I’m more keenly aware of the unmerited grace that brought him to us.
- I’m fiercely protective and proud of him.
- I post adorable pictures of him perhaps to an obnoxious degree on social media.
Love isn’t measured by DNA or birth. Love is what pulls us out of bed to feed a baby in the middle of the night when we have no energy at all; love is something we give with no other prerequisite or merit than “you’re mine”; love cooks and cleans and wipes smudges off cheeks and then does it again the next day; love comforts and disciplines and calls someone higher into who they’re meant to be; love isn’t manufactured and it isn’t always a warm fuzzy feeling; but love is what calls you to bring a life into your home even before you ever see their face or feel their heartbeat or know their name.
If fear of being able to love an adopted child is the biggest thing holding you back, I’d suggest you do a quick inventory of all the people you love who aren’t flesh and blood related to you. I imagine your spouse is on that list, and perhaps a few close friends and beyond. I know the love we have for children feels like a whole different category, but our hearts are designed to make room for love beyond logic, beyond biology. I really believe that if you take that step of faith towards adoption you’ll find your heart has no trouble wrapping itself completely around a little life, even if your mind feels a little unsure at first.
If you have your own story of adoption or making room to love, I’d enjoy hearing your story!! Share below in the comments or on my facebook page! And speaking of friend’s stories, below you’ll find a few stories of how parents and siblings of adopted children learned to make room in their homes for a sweet new child:
Sibling Adoption Stories From Friends…
Terry: International Adoption- Korea D was not very happy about giletting a sibling. He liked being an only child. He was 4 ½. We took him to our Agency visits so he would learn about E as we did. He seemed ok with it. His personality was completely different than E’s. We let him know that these are things we did while waiting for him to join our family.
Becky: (Foster-to-Adopt) We always talked about [adoption] as if it were a normal part of life. So when the time came for it the kids had been thinking about it and excited for it for awhile. They had written the new baby notes and bought little gifts in anticipation for the babies arrival. It all happened so fast that my son came off the bus one day and walked into the house and we said … come meet your new baby sister. He felt like he had just won the lottery too!
Pamela: (International Adoption- Ethiopia) Since we already had 5 biological children we asked the eldest their opinion on adopting first. At Christmas we made the announcement to the rest of the children. We were careful to not upset birth order. In the first couple years of bringing 2 new children into the home we worked very hard to give the 2 kids closest in age more attention since it was big adjustment.
Carrye: (Foster-to-Adopt) Yes, I’m sneaking one last thought in here: When we were preparing to bring our son home, we prayed almost nightly with our kids for a new baby. Even as we were learning to wait on God, our kids were learning a similar lesson. Since our son was an emergency placement and we brought him home so quickly, the end result was a whirlwind for us and our kids. Our daughter cried at first because she “wanted a sister!” but quickly came to love her new brother. A beautiful side-effect of bringing our children into our adoption story is that now it’s part of their “normal”. When my daughter talks about having kids, she always mentions that she plans to adopt too.
Parting Thought: I don’t want to gloss over the ache of infertility or the deep fear that adopting a child might feel like a “less perfect” way to grow a family. If that is your story, my heart breaks for you and the last thing I want to do is invalidate you or your very real struggle. If you’re wrestling over guilt in choosing adoption after infertility, I’d refer you to this post titled “Second Best or Second Choice?” and hope it encourages you.