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  • Will My Adopted Child Love Me As Much As If I Was His Birth Mom?

    Dawn Davenport

    36
    Will my adopted child love me as much as a child born to me.

    Do you ever have those dark little fears as an adoptive parents that somehow your child will not love you as much as if you had given birth to him?

    OK, confession time. Have you ever, in the tiny dark corners of your mind, wondered if your adopted child loves you as much as if you had been his birth mother? Do you ever just for a tiny moment wonder if his love for her will be bigger or better than the love he has for you? I’m not talking about what your rational mind thinks or what you would share with the whole world. I’m talking about the niggling fear that lays hidden in your brain to come out in the wee hours of the night when you can’t sleep or when you’ve had a particularly hard day with your little darling.

    One brave soul in the Creating a Family Facebook Support Group posted the following:

    I realize I have been stuffing a fear that one day my 3 year old son through adoption will realize I am not his birth mom and that he won’t love me the same way.  Our son, of course, knows he’s adopted, we visit his birth family twice a year, and I’ve made him a life book. But although he “knows”, I worry about the day when he gets to an age where he truly understood (psychologically) “I was born to another mom.”

    I know it is ridiculous and insecure for me to think that. He and I are so close, and I love him so dearly, but I share him with another mom, and I will never be what she is to him. I suppose she could say the same of me.

    What Lurks in the Dark Corners of Our Mind

    I was so proud of our group member for her willingness to share her fear. The comments flooded in because she is not alone with this small niggling worry. The reality of adoption is that we share our beloved children with another family. We want them to love their first family, truly we do, but the irrational part of our mind worries …

    ~Will they have enough love and time for all of us.

    ~Will our place in their lives will be solid enough and grounded enough that they’ll always feel connected.

    Truth be told, there is probably not a birth parent alive that doesn’t share these fears on some level as well. You are right, if we do our job well, their birth family will hold a special place in their heart, but so will we.

    The beauty of our support group is that we have members of all parts of the adoption triads (adopted people, birth parents, and adoptive parents). The comments that touched me the most were from the adult adoptees and birth mothers who reached out to offer their perspective.

    What Adult Adoptees Had to Say

    Sweet Mother, … PLEASE don’t sell him short by thinking he doesn’t have enough room in his heart to love two people…after all, he will, in his lifetime, love many. You are right about never being the same person to him that the women who gave birth to him is. But by the same token, neither is she the woman to him that you are. And that’s OK. You need to rest peacefully in your roll as his Mother and trust that you will nurture his heart and mind in a way that allows him to accept truth and to see ALL of the love that there is in the world for him.

    I am an adoptee and reunited with my birth family as an adult. I can tell you that NOTHING can replace my (adoptive) mom. She’s my mom, first and foremost. I love my birth family and am thankful for them, but they are added blessings, not replacements.

    How very aware of you to recognize your feelings and work through them AND be sensitive to him. Even adoptive parents sometimes have processing to do, just like adoptees. Hugs. As to your concern, I can say as an adoptee, my parents are my parents and that will never change. My biological family is ancestry. As someone else so eloquently stated, love does not subtract, it multiples. Just like having a second child doesn’t subtract your love from the first child, birth families typically don’t take away. Just focus on your relationship with him, and be the one that is there for him if he decides to pursue one with his bio family some day.

    [He] won’t feel differently about you. I do think that there can come a difficult time of trying to reconcile all the feelings- loving you as a mom, missing his bio mom (even if he never knew her), feeling guilty and not wanting to hurt your feelings. He will still love you, but will need a little help to work through it all.

    What a Birth Mother Has to Say

    I am a birth mother and my son’s adoptive mom will never be what I am to him, however, I will never be what she is to him either. I hope he grows to love us both, but that love will never be the same kind of love. I will always be his birthmom, but she will always be his mommy, and I don’t want that to be any other way.

    Have you ever had this fear? What gave you peace?

     

    Image credit: stefernie

    29/10/2013 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Adoption, Adoption Blog, Blog | 36 Comments


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    36 Responses to Will My Adopted Child Love Me As Much As If I Was His Birth Mom?

    1. Gail Schreiner says:

      I am adopted and am age 47. My adopted mother died when I was age 12. I can truly say that her death is the most traumatic loss that I have experienced in my life. I loved her so dearly and also my adoptive father. I have had the chance to find out who my biological mother is about 5 years ago and we write back and forth. I am very glad that I have gotten to know my biological mother but I will never have the love for her as I did for the parents who raised me. I’ve also been a foster parent to an adolescent and become aware that love and bonding have nothing to do with being a biological parent.

    2. marilynn says:

      Nice. Very cool post. I like this line.
      “I love him so dearly, but I share him with another mom, and I will never be what she is to him. I suppose she could say the same of me.”

      I know lots of adopted people who are in reunion and none that I know of ever like stopped being involved with the adopted family. They have both.

    3. Greg says:

      I’m not an AP. But as we’ve considered third party reproduction and now adoption I’ve had thoughts like this pop into my head. Back in February I had a dream that my daughter was getting married and she wanted both myself and her biological dad walk her down the aisle to which I refused to do so and show up to the wedding. The dream bothered me for a while but now not so much.

      If we adopted and our child loved their birthparents more so than us because they related to them better than us, so be it. We wouldn’t love them any less. But if it was a situation their love for their birthparents was more because of something we did that would be tougher to deal with.

      I think you also see a similar concept when couples with children get divorced and remarry. Where the divorced couple may feel threatened that their ex’s new spouse will be loved more so than them especially if the children don’t live with them.

      All in all I think it’s natural for any AP or non bio parent to have these fears. I think it’s important to work through them and not project it on the child.

    4. c says:

      Also, this is another reason why it is important to make one’s adoption is as ethical as possible. If an adoptee finds out that there were irregularities and, even worse, if their APs played a role in it, then it all rings a bit hollow.

      I am thankful that my APs were ethical. I am sure that everyone’s adoption on here is ethical as well :)

    5. c says:

      Look, your children will love you – isn’t that the most important thing?

      Although I can understand the fear that we adoptees might love our bparents more than our aparents – I’m sorry – but I didn’t realise adoption was a competition. As others have said, we are capable of loving more than one set of parents.

      Do you want to know something? My bmom is dead and died quite young, so there was no chance to ever meet her so it is easy for me to say that my amum and dad are my only true mum and dad. However, I have no idea how I would feel if she had been open to contact and had been the kind and loving person her family say she was. So no, I don’t plan to sell her down the river just to make other adoptive parents I don’t know feel all gooey inside. My (a)mum knows I love her and, in the end, that’s all that matters.

      Btw, for those in closed adoptions who are scared about their children seeking reunion – I have yet to meet an adoptee who doesn’t appreciate it when their parents show so support.

    6. Heather G. says:

      also i have always been known to call my old foster parents mom and dad but in my eyes my adopted parents are my parents but in foster care i had always been asked to call my foster parents mom and dad so really it could be the same way with the little ones we were tought that so that maybe why they would even call them that thats all they have known all there lives in doesnt mean they love there adopted parents less or even love there foster parents less but the longer you have them the deeper the love grows

    7. Heather G. says:

      i wanted to let all the adopted mothers know that love sees no beginning and no end i havent ever been close to my real parents because my real mom left my real dad when i was 2 and left us girls with my abusive dad and i gotta say even though there my bio parents i feel a closer connection with my adopted parents i still love my bio parents but not even close to how much i love my adopted parents so in my eyes my adopted parents are my real parents and always will be they have always been there for me when i had no one there my stepping stones and i couldnt be more pleased to say they are my parents

    8. Erika says:

      The painful truth here is that we misunderstand what love is (self sacrifice-laying down my rights so that another person can be lifted higher). It is very hard and until you see how it pains you to have to sacrifice or face the fear of loosing your heart you can’t face it straight on.

    9. Rachel says:

      Thanks Mani.

    10. Mani says:

      Oh, Rachel! That would have been hard for any mom, I think. You have a great perspective. Just wanted to give virtual hugs. <3

    11. Rachel says:

      I THOUGHT I wasn’t worried about this.

      Then our little misses’ First Mom (her first foster mom, that is) took our family pictures this weekend. And all that changed.

      Little miss had never called First Mom “mama” when she was with them for the first 11 months of her life. But that’s because she wasn’t speaking at all.

      This weekend, she got one glance at First Mom, and blurted out “mama!”, shoved me away, and reached out for her. And right there sprung insecurity in my heart like I haven’t known before. This wasn’t the first time we have seen First Mom. But it was the first time little miss recognized her as “mama.”

      I KNEW little miss and this woman were bonded. How could they not be? I KNEW that moving homes at almost a year would be traumatic. I KNEW that I could never be her first mom.

      But I had hoped somehow that little miss would instinctually know that I am her FOREVER mom. I had hoped that the last 8 months we’ve had her would make up for the 11 we didn’t. I had hoped that I put enough effort into bonding that little miss wouldn’t be confused as to who her REAL mom was. I had hoped, I guess, that she would prefer me to her first mom.

      I think what I find most comforting is the thought that, as one commenter put it, love MULTIPLIES, and does not DIVIDE.

      And that is a great perspective to keep. Because I not only have First Mom who will forever be in our lives (by choice), but I also have Bio mom who we will see a few times a year through our open adoption.

      Thanks for posting about this fear. It’s nice to know I’m not alone!

      • Oh Rachel, I so understand how hard that must have been even though you understand why it happened and probably are thankful that your Little Miss had this bond. And thank you for sharing so others will feel less alone!

    12. Erika says:

      What a blessing and gift to have the place and opportunity to bring our fears into the light. I agree with the person who said that our fears tend to be worse than reality. When we hold them in because of even more fear, we compound their power of us and we may find ourselves in a self-fulfilling prophesy. Thank you Dawn and all of you who responded to my original post.

    13. Mani says:

      I have never had this fear, but I did fear the opposite – I wondered, before my son through adoption was born, if I could ever love him as much as my son through birth. Turns out, I most certainly can. :)

      My love for him is just as fierce as the love I have for his brother. And, as far as I can tell thus far, his love for me is every bit as huge and awe-inspiring as his big brother’s love for me is.

      I have friends I love to the end of the world and relatives I feel no connection with at all.

      Love is amazing and doesn’t always follow DNA. <3

    14. Rhonda says:

      My fears aren’t about my girl loving me, but about if she will feel that I did my best, thought things through, allowed her a voice. That I was not perfect, I messed up alot, but I did pull myself out of my shell and my comfort zone to make sure she had what she needed. I have no doubt of her love for me or that she feels my love for her.

      • I agree that I hope my kids will feel that I did my best despite my shortcomings. I remember one particularly bad night when everything that could have gone wrong seemed to have happened and I had lost it. After some of the dust settled and we were getting ready for bed, I told them something along the lines of “Hey guys, I want you to know that I’m doing my best. It may not feel like it, but today that was the best I could do. I’m not particularly proud of it, but that’s how it is. Tomorrow I’m going to try to do better.” Now I suspect that at least one was thinking “Wow, that’s pretty pathetic if that’s your best”, but at that moment they all jumped on me and gave me a group hug. About a month later one of my kids lost her temper and had a loud melt down. Later when I was talking to her about it she said “You know Mom, when I felt myself losing it I tried to stop, but I just couldn’t. I guess that was the best I could do right then, but I’m gonna try to do better tomorrow.” I pray that I sent them a message that you don’t have to be perfect to be loved.

    15. Mariana says:

      Thanks for this beautiful post.

    16. Addie says:

      On an additional note – I would say more of my nagging fears or darkness loom around the what if’s of his growing up…I never want him to feel too different, or to feel out of place (we’re a transracial family) or to be asked questions that he doesn’t feel comfortable answering…all those stages of what he’ll have to go through that he hasn’t even considered…yes…I’m freaking out about it already and he’s just a toddler:)

      • Addie, air your fears with your friends in the adoption world. All our dark fears become less intense with a good airing. What you’re going to find, I suspect, is that our fears are always worse in the anticipation stage. As you fellow ages, you’ll feel more and more confident to help him deal with these issues–especially if you keep educating yourself along the way.

    17. Christy says:

      This was my biggest fear while waiting to bring my son home. Now it’s not the same gnawing feeling but an occasional fear. We are close and I know that there will be times that he questions it all, but I hope that we can love him through it all, support him, and in the long run he will love us because we are family. I hope he will also one day have love in his heart for his birth parents, they are a part of him and I love them for that.

      On a similar note, I think all kids go through a period of time where their parents are wrong, or they want separation from us, etc. We’ll hit our bumps in the road for sure as I will have bumps in the road with my 2 biological children for other reasons and D for reasons not related to his adoption (since I don’t know what these are, I can’t prepare for them, in some ways those unknowns for all 3 kids are scarier than the one I can stress about and plan for over the next few years, but they don’t stress me out right now). 😉

    18. Addie says:

      I am so moved by the beautiful resonse the adult adoptee posted on the facebook entry…thank you, Sweet Adult Adoptee who has given many of us parents the insight to raise our children wisely, knowing that they will have the capacity of loving all of us, along with their future partners and children as well. We also need to remain confident in our relationships with our children – my heart explodes with such love for our kiddos, and they feel the same about us – we are so fortunate that we receive this love from our kids – won’t it be fantastic when they can love others like that as well!

    19. Leslie C. says:

      Yes! I’m adopted by my dad – he is my dad and I love him very much. My bio dad is a nice guy, but feel zero emotional connection to him.

    20. Jill H. says:

      I don’t really worry about this, I am okay if my child doesn’t “love” me the “same” but I do hope they can recognize when they are grown that we cared for them and loved them. I hope this for our bio daughter too

    21. Erika S. says:

      Gonna read this later today!

    22. Paula says:

      I’ve always figured that she doesn’t know anything else. She loves me how she loves her mum, because that’s what I am.

    23. Suzanne, I suspect you’re right, but it is something almost no one voices out loud. And I think fears such as this feed off of silence.

    24. Mary says:

      If parents can love more than one child, doesn’t it make sense that a child can love more than one parent? I must admit I’m worried about this, too, but I definitely hope that it is true for our future family and ALL of its members-child and adult alike

    25. BooBoo says:

      I don’t have this fear at all. Maybe because I am an adopted person so I understand a child’s capacity to love?!

    26. Truth be told I think this is the single biggest fear most adoptive parents have regarding birth parents.

    27. Tim Wilson says:

      Great post and we did worry about this at the beginning and we thought we were the only ones who ever thought it and that it meant we were bad parents.

    28. Geochick says:

      Maybe it’s my highly intellectual way of looking (or hiding) at things, but I don’t have this fear. I think that me and C have different roles in our son’s life and he will figure out what each of us means to him. Right now, he runs to me when something scares him, he gives me hugs when I’m not feeling well, and he throws tantrums around me because he knows he can and I’ll still love him. When he gets older, he may look to C for familiarity in looks, habits and interests. They will have a special bond that I don’t get to be a part of. Perhaps when he’s older, I’ll get a little more of a pang, but I try to tell myself that he won’t be confused, just the adults.

    29. Rachel says:

      I THOUGHT I wasn’t worried about this.

      Then our little misses’ First Mom (her first foster mom, that is) took our family pictures this weekend. And all that changed.

      Little miss had never called First Mom “mama” when she was with them for the first 11 months of her life. But that’s because she wasn’t speaking at all.

      This weekend, she got one glance at First Mom, and blurted out “mama!”, shoved me away, and reached out for her. And right there sprung insecurity in my heart like I haven’t known before. This wasn’t the first time we have seen First Mom. But it was the first time little miss recognized her as “mama.”

      I KNEW little miss and this woman were bonded. How could they not be? I KNEW that moving homes at almost a year would be traumatic. I KNEW that I could never be her first mom.

      But I had hoped somehow that little miss would instinctually know that I am her FOREVER mom. I had hoped that the last 8 months we’ve had her would make up for the 11 we didn’t. I had hoped that I put enough effort into bonding that little miss wouldn’t be confused as to who her REAL mom was. I had hoped, I guess, that she would prefer me to her first mom.

      I think what I find most comforting is the thought that, as one commenter put it, love MULTIPLIES, and does not DIVIDE.

      And that is a great perspective to keep. Because I not only have First Mom who will forever be in our lives (by choice), but I also have Bio mom who we will see a few times a year through our open adoption.

      Thanks for posting about this fear. It’s nice to know I’m not alone!

    30. Anon AP says:

      I’ve been thinking about this post for a while, and I’ve been thinking about it in the context of how I love different people in my family. “How much?” isn’t a question I find I ask myself. I love my parents, my siblings, my husband, my daughter, but all in different ways and for different reasons. To think of who I love more than others gets a bit whacky because, though the same word is used to describe the emotion, the way I feel about each of them is unique to them and our history together. Meeting and falling in love with my husband didn’t change my love for my parents, though it did change the dynamics of our relationship some. And having our daughter join our family didn’t change my love for my sister. I think we can love multiple people in many different and similar ways, and I think our kids can too.

      So, I don’t expect that our daughter will love me the same way as she would have loved her birthmother if she were raising her or the way I hope she will love her birthmother in the coming years. Like any parent, I hope our daughter will love us and enjoy our company as a grown up. I also hope she’ll be able to have a rich, loving relationship with her birthmom and -family, and that she’ll enjoy spending time with them too. She’ll have things in common with her birthfamily, including part of her family history, maybe the way she laughs or her dimples, etc. that she won’t be able to share or see in us. Hopefully, being able to embrace all of the different sides of her family will be a source of happiness and peace and strength in her life.

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