An Adoptive Mother’s Thoughts on Biology
Yesterday I was reading a post by a remarkable mother who is currently pregnant via donor eggs. She is not remarkable because she is pregnant via donor eggs, or because she is pregnant at all (although for her, being pregnant is a pretty amazing feat after all she’s been through). Rather, she’s remarkable because simply because she’s an amazing women – I know this with certainty as we have become real-life friends and I even had the opportunity to meet her after our son was born, a visit that I still cherish.
Anyways, I could probably praise her for all her amazingness all day long, but that’s not the point of this. The point is that she wrote a post about biology, and the biological connection she will have with one child and the lack of a biological link she will have with her second child. If you want to read her post, you can check it out here. And, this got me thinking about a few different things. 4 significant things in fact. So, I’ve decided to share my sort of random but adoption related 4 thoughts today.
First, obviously, as our family is built through open-adoption which means my husband and I have no genetic/biological link to our son. But, I know with certainty that I love our child more then I ever knew possible. Someone much wiser then me once said when they chose to adopt after already having biological children that they were worried they wouldn’t feel the same way about their non-biological children – in fact, they admitted this was something they kept secrete to themselves for years while they were in the adoption process because they couldn’t bare to admit this fear. In the end, this person said biology had absolutely no impact on their love for their children and she laughs at how scared she once was that it would. After hearing this, I’ve always just assumed it’s about love for a child, not love for a biological link – to be fair, I cannot confirm that it’s the same because we only have one child with no biological link, I don’t know the other perspective. But, what I can confirm is that I could not imagine loving another human being as much a I love our son. I still love my husband, that hasn’t changed, but it’s just different. I would literally do anything within my power to help/protect/care for Baby MPB. Literally. I truly don’t think genetics would change that. I simply believe true love goes way beyond biology. Love is just love for another human being.
Second, she made reference to those who say “just adopt.” I cannot say enough times over how insanely crazy it is for anyone to ever say to another human being “just adopt.” Adopting embryos, adopting donor eggs, adopting a living person either through private adoptions or foster adoption – no matter how you adopt it’s really freaking hard! Like, insanely hard. From experience I can state that the private international adoption process is complicated. And, the donor embryo process (in Canada) is beyond confusing. Oh, and let’s not forget that insanely expensive too. When we just talk dollars, what we paid for our son’s international open-adoption (nearly 65K USD) is cost prohibitive to most families/individuals. Honestly, had we known the true price when we started we would never have chosen international open-adoption (but in a weird way I’m thankful we didn’t know the true price because we wouldn’t be parents today if we did). All of this is to say, and I know I’ve said it before, the cost of adoption is nothing short of insane. Heck, as two people who’ve been through international open-adoption once, at this point in time we couldn’t imagine doing it again – I think that says something about how crazy/corrupt/disheartening the system is. So, needless to say, in my humble opinion suggesting that someone should just adoption is nothing short of lunacy.
Third, she got me thinking about how we are a different family. This is something that scared the heck out of me at one time. I worried that different meant bad. I really worried that our son would be treated differently by others. When I voiced these fears while we were still waiting I remember someone in the adoption community once saying to me – remember different isn’t bad, you get to write the script, embrace it! And they were right. Different isn’t bad. In this day and age, there are so many different families that we still just fit in. And, the fact that our son is adopted hasn’t changed a single thing for us. I should caveat my thoughts here by saying that our son looks enough like us (or, rather my husband, not me at all) that people don’t immediately assume he’s adopted and he’s still not in school so we haven’t experienced the possible cruelty of other children yet). Anyways, so far, I don’t think we’ve had much difference other then not having a baby shower. To-date, our son has been treated the exact same way as other children. In fact, when people learn our story, they tend to praise us and say how lucky he is to have us (to which I always respond with Mr. MPB and I are the lucky ones). To those who have no idea, they just treat him (and us) like any other family no questions asked. I’ll admit, part of me enjoys the fact that we can blend into normal families when we want to, but the other part of me really believes that being different isn’t a bad thing and just gives us something that makes us unique and special in our own way.
Lastly, she touched on thoughts related to when and if one day her children have questions about biology. Now, we made a very conscious choice to pursue open-adoption rather then closed-adoption. We researched and read everything we could find on the subject. Ultimately, we decided it was very important to us that we proceed with an open-adoption – this isn’t to say this is right for everyone in every situation, this was just what we thought was right for us. We wanted our child to know their biological roots, should they want to know them and should it be safe. We wanted the possibility of our child to know his biological family without a nearly impossible search through sealed records. We also wanted access to family medical history. In our specific open-adoption circumstance we have a positive relationship with our son’s birth-mom and we will always support that relationship because it is safe and healthy. Our son will always know he is adopted. Our son will always have access to his birth mom through whatever communication method is available and hopefully through visits too. And at the age appropriate time we will encourage him to take an active role in managing that relationship himself. It is our believe that only good things can come when more people love a child. So, there is no battle over who his mom is – he has two mom’s in a two very different capacities. We firmly believe this isn’t a bad thing. Anyways, all of this is to say, we chose open-adoption and now that we are an actual family of three, we intend to honour our choice. Nothing, absolutely nothing, has changed in regards to our open-adoption commitments.
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A complete stranger asked me, after hearing about our losses, if we considered adoption like it was a consolation prize. It infuriated me to no end. While Michael and I aren’t planning to adopt right now, I know that the path of adoption is hard, strenuous, and expensive, just like any other path to children for us. And it may be one we take later on, but there are so many other emotions I have to process through before making that decision. And I’m dealing with enough emotions trying to conceive right now as it is. I love your story, and your beautiful friend’s story too.
First of all thank you so much for your kind words. I know you know the feeling is beyond mutual. I had been reading your blog and loving you through it before we met so it was kind of like meeting a celebrity for me:). I must say that when I first saw and held your son (so honored) I could see and feel how special he is. That morning is etched in my mind and seeing you three together still brings tears to my eyes. There is something about him that is so wise and warm and loving and special. You and Mr. MPB are so lucky, as is he. You belong together. No surprise that I agree with all points you made. I embrace the opportunity to be different because it is a clean slate and it is also an opportunity to inspire and normalize it for others. I too- will make sure our child knows their origin and has access if and when they need it. So much love to you. Thank you for this wise and lovely post! Xo
Our twin boys were conceived through the use of donor eggs, and I agree with the thoughts expressed by your friend about how losing the genetic connection to your child “forces your ego out of who they are.” I have noticed this with my sons. I feel that, in a way, I am more attuned to them simply becoming who they are meant to be vs. looking for ways in which they resemble me, or my family. . . because I have not expectation that they have inherited any genetic traits from me.
At the same time, I don’t feel that it makes any difference whatsoever in the bond between my sons and me. I am their mother.
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I love this perspective. I know that having my own biological children, that I am looking for my own weaknesses in them so that I can try to coach them through those challenges. My youngest is easily frustrated, just like me, and my oldest only works hard at things he’s good at, just like me. Both of those things need coaching, and I bet if they didn’t get those things from me (if there was no biological connection), that I would be a better coach for them. I’d spend more time sorting out what would help THEM and not think so much about what would have helped ME when I was their age.
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I think genetics means very little in the end. Biological parents have harmed, neglected or killed biological offspring. My step-dad is not biologically related to me, he only came into my life when I was 16 so he didn’t necessarily “raise” me very long. However, he loves me just as much as his biological children, I see that when he cheers at my triumphs and hurts when I hurt. My son is not his biological grandchild but he loves him with the same love he does the others.
There are so many step, adoptive, foster, kinship carers and many other people who don’t share a bio link to the children they care for, but they have the most important thing, love 🙂
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Biological connection was never really important to me. It was important to my husband. Your first point resonated with me because I felt that way about having another child – that I couldn’t love another as much as I loved Matthew. I would have worried about that, too, if we’d have adopted our second. No matter the route, you never think you can love another as much as your first – and biology has nothing to do with that. It’s just love – just as you say!
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We have 3 biological children and one adopted child. To us, the joy in parenting is the relationship and the opportunity to train and shape a person. The biology does not effect our feeling or emotion. We love all of our children. They are each a gift from God.
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