Michele Pierce has worked in the field of education and educational publishing for over 25 years as a teacher, editor and writer. She holds a master's degree in Education from Harvard. Michele enjoys being a wife and mother, practicing yoga, skiing, reading, and walking her new baby — a 90lb. Bernese Mountain Dog named Boots.
“It must be hard to love an adopted child as much as your own.”
Groan. A familiar wave of disappointment rushes over me. “When will they get it right?”
This tagline from a soon-to-be-released “slasher” movie is a stinging example of how the media continues to drive the myth that parents can’t love a child they adopted as much as a biological one.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, though. Adoption receives very little public attention, and the attention it does get is mostly about the extremes. Why wouldn’t people’s ideas about adoption continue to be formed to a large extent by myths and stereotypes?
I’m the mother of two beautiful and strong-willed daughters, ages 11 and 8. My life is probably a lot like yours—filled with mothering my children, walking the dog, keeping up with laundry, volunteering, working full-time, and trying desperately to find time for myself and my husband.
I’m so busy with all of this that I mostly forget how I became their mother.
It’s been over 12 years since my husband and I first began our journey to adoption. It started with letting go of a dream of creating a child together. (A child that looked like us and of course only inherited our most positive traits!) It continued with the recognition that the most important part of our dream was the desire to create a family. And it ended with learning firsthand that parenthood is not about biology.
It is my hope that as more and more people become touched by adoption, they will come to the same understanding. In the meantime, here are some things to know:
- Adoption happens because some adults cannot parent; it is not because they are uncaring or a child is “bad.”
- Adoptive parents are “real.” Children who were adopted have two sets of “real” parents. The ones who raise them and the ones who created them.
- Adoptive families are created in a different way, but being in an adoptive family is the same as being in any other family.
- Children who were adopted are not more likely to be “troubled.” Research shows that adoptees are as well-adjusted as their non-adopted peers.
- Children who were adopted are not “lucky.” We are the lucky ones. Without them, we would not have had the opportunity to become parents.
And most importantly, adoptive parents love their children no differently than if they were “their own.” I think Marie Osmond said it best. When asked which of her children were adopted, she simply replied, “I have no idea. I can’t remember.”
In reading Michele's piece, I realize that I've thought, if not said, “it must be hard to love an adopted child as much as your own”, making me wonder how much I, or any of us, really know about how to love another.
When we have biological children, do we take for granted that we will be close as a family, rather than recognizing that we need to create ties that are familial?
Some of us may have biological parents, siblings, cousins to whom we are close, others do not. What can we learn from Michele's thoughts and feelings about the essence of building relationships that are safe and secure, even family-like?
Do we have to birth all of our dreams? Or can we adopt a dream? Once we adopt a dream, and tend and care for that dream, is it any less or more ours, than if we had ‘birthed' it?