OK, confession time: Have you ever, in the tiny dark corners of your mind, wondered if your adopted child will love 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) that “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?First published in 2013; Updated in 2018
Tom Raftery-worried boy Pietro Izzo-baby sucking finger Saad– woman