I am in too many adoption groups for my own good. As someone who has spent a lot of her life in various capacities with sorrow, grief, trauma, I struggle incredibly when loss is overlooked for someone’s gain. I believe you can acknowledge the pain of both (birth) mother and child in adoption without minimizing the great love that mommy has for her (adopted) child. I feel like a constant refrain from me is that biology matters. Because it does. Biology matters so much that I just turned to 23 and me, my last hope in this life of knowing where I came from. No amount of therapy, schooling, processing changes the fact that biology still matters to me.
The word “mother” bothers some. If you are considering adoption and it bothers you that your child’s mother gave birth to them, it may not be the right fit for you. The word “mother” isn’t a one use ticket. Our foster daughter proudly claims many of us, and it’s a badge of honor to be part of the team that is helping her launch, because in the end, it’s about her.
What is so often missed, though, is that there is being one’s mother, and then there is the calling of motherhood, and both matter and there is more than enough room in a child’s life for both. Motherhood isn’t purely biological. Motherhood is a calling. It’s calmly and lovingly changing sheets after an accident in the wee hours of the morning, kissing their foreheads and reassuring them that it’s no big deal, go back to sleep, my love. It’s hearing a wail and dropping what you are doing and racing to your child because you would, and could, move a car with your bare hands to get to them because you know they are hurt. It’s pretending that you love to play transformers, even though you have a pile of work that you really need to be doing, because that child, your child, deserves to believe they are the very most important thing you have going on. It’s setting an early alarm to french braid hair. It’s making both pancakes and waffles because everyone has a favorite. It’s rocking all day, showerless and hungry, because your little one is sick and they are only comfortable in the chair of their infancy, in your arms. Sometimes motherhood is an extension of also being the mother who gave birth, and sometimes it’s also the moments that the woman who made it possible for you is missing for herself. That deserves space.
And sometimes motherhood is loving your child enough to love the woman that carried them, casting aside judgment because to love our children is to love their DNA, too. When you speak poorly of the mother who gave them life, you tell them that inherently something is wrong with them, in a way that they cannot overcome. Biology matters. It’s where we get our eyes and our hair and our stature. Adoption doesn’t rewire that, it creates a co-story… but the original story isn’t replaced, either. It’s all the feelings in one child’s face. It’s hard and beautiful, and it’s a story that includes many.
The calling of motherhood is selfless, as every adorable meme on facebook reminds us. In theory that is sweet, in practice it is difficult. That is what makes us special, and that is why it doesn’t matter if we share the title. There is always room for more grace, more forgiveness, more love.
Love on, mommas.