Will I be able to love an adopted child?

We had our bi monthly adoption meeting on Monday and this time I was one of the few (due to crazy holiday season I am sure :-))who were able to make it. As we got chatting - as always with one ear and one eye on our kids throwing food items at each other and falling off monkey bars - many interesting issues were raised. Of course half way through any conversation one of us tunes out or comes back in and the general thread of conversation is always a little frazzled and unfocused. But with my mind on my blog, I took two issues with me, that I want to take a little further: The question that many parents - adoptive or birth parents- ask themselves often in a flat panic throughout this journey of conception: Once my child is here, will I be able to love him/her enough. And people who adopt often have the additional fear that loving a child who does not come from their genes or their body is different.

The second issue, that is somewhat related to this is the secret or open wish that "my child looks like me". This is of course related to the fear that we might not be able to love a little "stranger".

When we adopted Kala, my second daughter, I was shocked to find out that we were one of only three couples on the long long list of future parents - who did not specify that their child should look a certain way. The common requirements were "manageable hair, light skin and straight nose" - in other words as white as possible. It made me feel angry and hurt for all the beautiful children who - like Kala - did not comply with these requirements and were therefore not "in demand". On the upside, this was our luck as we were able to take Kala home two weeks after we applied for a second child. Definitely a shock to the family system as we were expecting a waiting period of at least six months - and at the same time a true blessing.

Did I feel this overwhelming love that I have for her today from the beginning? No I did not. I did not know her then. I knew I wanted her and I knew she was meant to come to us as I believe in the universe sending us always what we need. But I felt torn between guilt towards my older daughter Leah for making her share her parents and fear of not being able to love Kala as much as I already loved Leah. I was literally sick for almost 6 days with paralysing nausea and dizziness ... all the while thinking I made a big mistake. My panic made me forget all I had learned about life and love: both happen to us if we let them. All we have to do is relax and open our hearts. As I did not have a choice but to relax - I stopped fighting my feelings and gave in to them. I sobbed and cried and poured out all my fears and worries to everyone who was in listening range. Mostly my wise(yes it's true) and wonderful husband who gave me the best advice ever: don't worry. Just do, what you have to do, go through the motions. The rest will come.

Strange advice to somebody who believes in being authentic and looks for deeper meanings in everything... But then I remembered an old yogic saying by Yogi Bhajan:

Fake it and you can make it . Or fake it until you make it...

Hard to believe? Believe it! As this whole inner turmoil was entirely about myself and my demons and had nothing to do with my beautiful totally non-judgemental children, this was the best advice ever. Ok, so I felt I was not able to love. Just doing the loving anyway did the trick. Kala did not mind. She just looked at me with knowing eyes communicating with her heart and teaching me to slow down my spiralling thoughts and just be there for her. Her calmness and determination helped me a lot. She knew she was in the right place. The fact that she had managed to fight her way through all the obstacles that life had already put in her way before she finally arrived in her family also made me realise how strong she was.

And slowly as I relaxed the pressure on myself and got to know my beautiful child I learned to love her.

More and more every day.

The guilt towards Leah? A wasted emotion if there ever was one - as she radiated in the importance of being a big sister and simply extended her love. So easy when you are not even 3 yet!

I am not sorry I went through all this turmoil as it was another big life lesson for me: Trying to be perfect, the perfect partner, the perfect daughter, the perfect sister and now the perfect mother - has taken up so much time and effort in my life. Time I could have used much wiser to just be myself and learn to accept (and hey, maybe even love ) who I am.

Only when Kala came into my life and triggered one of my darkest moments, in which I felt utterly and hopelessly inadequate, was I able to give up the concept of my perfect self and surrender to my human self. And this is really what I want to say to people who think they might not love a child - an adopted child - enough. First of all, when it comes to your ability to love - there is no difference between loving a little stranger who comes out of your body (or your partner’s body) and a little stranger being put into your arms. The moment you hold them in your arms they are your children. All children are different. They need different things from us. Some resonate with our emotions on a different level than others. Therefore we love them differently. It is not about our children. They are all equally lovable. This is entirely about you . Your experiences with love, good and bad, and the pressure you put on yourself to love in a certain way. If you just open your heart and let love happen, it will happen. Maybe not on the first day - or maybe not even in the first year - but it will happen. Every day. A little more. And while you are busy growing a bigger heart you are doing your job as a parent. The best job you can do. This is what counts in the end.


Adoptmom said…
Hi there...I am really enjoying your blog. I have just started one too! Please have a look at http://adoptmommy.blogspot.com/
All the best, Terri
gunnagirls said…
thanks will do! the more we get out there the better.
Charisse said…
I just found this -- it's hilarious and insightful.

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