I recently found in my jewelry box one of those bracelets that were popular a few years back, you know...like those "Livestrong" ones, but this one was for adoption and says "ADOPTION = LOVE" on it. So I've been wearing it again. Proudly.
But it's also got me thinking about adoption and love and the bonds that are formed through adoption.
More to the point I've been pondering the question - does adoption automatically equal love? Just because we actively seek these children to adopt do we just automatically love them, bond with them? Or is it a love and bond formed over time? And even more, does love and bonding necessarily go together and grow together on the same scale, with the same intensity and at the same time?
I guess a comment a friend made got me thinking. She said something along the lines of *Dad's don't bond with the baby the way Mom does because they don't carry it inside and feel it grow. They don't get those 9 months of feeling the movement, the kicks. They just don't have the same bonds and connection...the same immediate love for the baby*.
This is a good friend and I probably could have opened a discussion...but I was rather speechless. (I know, I know...these speechless moments-so odd!) I just wasn't sure where this feeling of offense was coming from and what point I would have been trying to make.
And of course I've been mulling it over now, questioning that bond between mother and child - parent and child really. When does attachment, bonding and love begin? And where does it begin...in the womb or in the heart?
Do I not get to love my adopted child as much, with as much emotion simply because she/he did not "grow" inside of me? Am I required or expected to work harder at those bonds of love because I've only known my child post birth? And what gives a child of birth a better bond with their parents, their mother...My children have learned loss and learned how it felt trust again at a very young age...doesn't that mean something? Doesn't that show how deep our love and our bond truly is?
Now I am not saying I fell head over heels in love and immediately bonded with my children the moment our eyes met. No, not exactly...I mean I loved them, deeply, but yes I didn't have that complete connection we now so easily share. But the implication that those bonds were not there at all, that I didn't have a some kind of love- well that's not true, nor is it fair.
Maybe they didn't grow in my belly, but I had years of desperate wanting of them, months of waiting to see what they would look like and then months more of looking at photograph of my baby waiting across an ocean. I had oodles of dreams of holding each of them and I definitely had such intense longings to smell, touch and cuddle them. I knew every inch of their skin and hair and eyes (well that I could see in a picture) and was only lacking the feel of them in my arms. When I met each of them it was emotional and scary and the need to connect was not one of wanting but of necessity. We had to get to know each other through language barriers and fear of the unknown. And they had to trust us, these strangers that had come into their lives. And once home the connections made daily with each of my children were amazing. Some days I found new reasons to love them and some days we found new ways to bond. And some days we did both.
Oh yes, I had plenty of time to bond and love them, just not in womb...but in my heart.
So does adoption = love?
For me it certainly does.
I didn't give you the gift of life,
But in my heart I know.
The love I feel is deep and real,
As if it had been so.
For us to have each other
Is like a dream come true!
No, I didn't give you
The gift of life,
Life gave me the gift of you.
--- Unknown Author ---