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How Do We Love Another Woman’s Child?

When I became pregnant with my first child a girl I couldn’t understand how having a baby would be markedly different from babysitting. And I wasn’t too thrilled with the whole idea.

Then she was born and I found that I would give my life for this precious baby in a second.

When I was pregnant with my second child another girl I felt so sorry for her because I was sure that I could never love her or anyone like I loved my first.

Then she was born and I found my heart more than doubled in size. And I relaxed a bit over the births of my next two sweet girls.

When I was pregnant with my fifth my first boy I just couldn’t comprehend how I could ever really love and mother a ?boy. I mean boys are, well, they have that thing. And they like bugs and rocks and guns and bashing into each other. They don’t even have cute clothes and pigtails!

Then my boy was born and immediately I knew that no girl would ever be good enough for my most darling, little prince. [Note to Samson’s future dates: there is a chance I can mellow with time on this point.]

When my last boy was born, I knew he’d hold my heart as well.

Even though I’ve never adopted a child, I see that loving a child is often very different from the way we perceive it from the outside. And even though a child didn’t come from our own genes, I know from experience as an adoptee that an adopted child can be loved and cherished and included as much as those of our own blood.

What a blessing all around to give babies to families who yearn for them and give families to babies who can’t live without them.

{ 12 comments… add one }
  • agardner August 21, 2007, 1:26 pm

    I really appreciated this perspective. My husband is an adoption worker, and we have had many friends and family members adopt children. I totally get what you are saying when you think you can’t possibly love a child as much as you love that first one, or the second…and on and on. But an amazing thing happens when a child joins the family through whatever means – the capacity to love seems to increase.

    Have you ever met a mother/child that you were shocked to hear were not biologically related because of the bond that seems to be there, maybe they even look alike?? I have. My cousins wife seems to be the spitting image of her mother. They look alike, speak alike, and are so similar in their interests. Very strong bond and close relationship between them. In fact, you could say they are 2 peas in a pod. When I found out she was adopted, I was really shocked. It was just a testimony to me that sometimes a child is supposed to come into your family this way, for whatever reason, but it’s just as if you birthed them yourselves.

    As someone who is contemplating adoption, I appreciate the perspective from someone who was adopted.

  • Lewis_Family August 21, 2007, 1:44 pm

    Its crazy the concept of nature vs nuture huh. I know many that you would never guess in a million years were adopted, it is scary the similarities. Though similarities are a small factor in a family relationship, look how many people are so different from birth parents and siblings.

  • Oregonian August 21, 2007, 1:44 pm

    Love this. It’s not birthing that makes one a mother. It’s love, sacrifice, loyalty, time, care.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 21, 2007, 6:09 pm

    I look nothing at all like my family. Nothing. But I’m much more like my mother than my sister (the only non-adopted sibling). And I’m told that I’m the favorite child, but I don’t believe ie. 🙂

  • kiar August 21, 2007, 6:24 pm

    I have always been closer to my mom than my 2 brothers. (and they are hers biologically from a first marriage) I was always faced with the “are you sure your adopted?” question. Both my mom and I have a seriously warped sense of humor, which always left my dad scratching his head! And I look like my sisters, both of whom are my dads from a first marriage, with the exception that they are a little taller and have blue eyes. And I have my dads stubborn temper. So I think that it all boils down to this: you get sent where you are supposed to be, whether you are biological or adopted.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 21, 2007, 6:30 pm

    Posted By: kiarSo I think that it all boils down to this: you get sent where you are supposed to be, whether you are biological or adopted.

    Now THAT is an interesting discussion! Takers anyone?

  • agardner August 21, 2007, 8:25 pm

    Posted By: Alison Moore Smith

    Posted By: kiarSo I think that it all boils down to this: you get sent where you are supposed to be, whether you are biological or adopted.

    Now THAT is an interesting discussion! Takers anyone?

    Well, I just can’t help but agree, at least in many cases I have seen. It has been amazing to see how well-matched some children seem to be to their adoptive families. Sometimes in the way they look, sometimes in personality, sometimes in weaknesses. I’ve seen this even in children who are adopted at an older age. There is a little boy in our ward who was adopted when he was about 3-4. It is amazing to watch him now, at age 10, with his mom. You would never believe that she hadn’t birthed the child, they way they interact and seem to understand one another. They don’t look a thing alike (he is black and she is white), but they do seem to be kindred spirits. And that’s just one case off the top of my head – I’ve seen many others where the adopted child just seems to fit right in to the family – whether they are adopted in infancy or older.

    Having said that, there are some imperfect placements as well. A few I have seen are so incompatible that the adoption fell through – one adoptive family even placed their adopted son for adoption after having him for 7 years because it wasn’t working out. So it isn’t always perfect, but does seem to be more often than not.

    I think that’s one reason why my husband and I are leaving ourselves open to adoption since we can’t have more biological children. I think if the circumstances are right, we will know it and it will work out. If not, we are open to keeping our family as the three daughters we have as well.

  • heather August 21, 2007, 11:27 pm

    I appreciate this article for an individual such as myself. I truly believe there is a special bond between these unions. I’ve been to many temple sealings of some adopted children. Almost every one of the sealers presiding, have stated that these children were sent to that very family for a purpose. One sealer in fact mentioned that the adopted child will play a role in both the “uplifting of her parents that will raise her” and the “converting of her biological parents”. (That’s a situation I intend to watch carefully and see how it plays out! )

    I have had a few experiences with adoption. My parents adopted a little girl when she was three and she lived with us until she was six. I grew very attached to her – she was under my care a lot, but she was later re-united with her biological mother (as was promised) as soon as the mother had become “stable”. I was a teenager at the time and I was very confused with the whole thing. I still have many question for my parents. Theses are not common circumstances but I would have fought to keep her (if I was the parent).

    I also had the opportunity to help my late father-in-law find his biological family before his death. Someone was working hard on the other side to see that reunion happen because everything that happended fell right into place right before my very eyes. (Through the church ancestory records etc.) Boy ,is that a story to tell!!!!! (Of course, not all adoptees can vouch that this is what is in their best interrest … I humbly state!)

    Before I submitted adoption papers through LDS services, two unwed girls (aquaintnaces of aquaintances) were going to give their babies up for adoption and both had chosen my husband and I to raise them. However, when I became ill, the mothers changed their minds. I was heart broken. I kind of got a taste of what the adoption process could be like. a lot of ups and downs.

    However, I do not intend to steer away from adoption either. In fact, I too (like agardner) see adoption in my future with open arms, and an open heart. Send them my way I say!!!!

  • facethemusic August 23, 2007, 3:54 pm

    Loved this, Alison!!
    Mothering is how much of your heart you put into it. There are childless women who are far better mothers than others who have actually given birth. And honestly, I think the unmarried girl or woman who gets pregnant and has the courage and compassion to do what’s best for the child and give it up for adoption, even though her heart is breaking and she wants to keep it, is FAR more of a mother than the woman who gives birth and then abuses or neglects her children, or puts them in danger to serve her own selfish interests, etc.
    You know- one of the things I love about the Savior and his life is that he experienced all our joys and sorrows. If you think about it– the Savior himself was an “adoptee” and had a “step-father” of sorts.

  • lovelee August 23, 2007, 10:22 pm

    I adopted a newborn baby girl this past December from LDSFS. Even though she doesn’t look like us, I see myself in her. Our spirits definitely know each other. In the case of this adoption, I know that this baby is supposed to be with us. The coincidences that occurred are just too great to ignore the idea that God didn’t have His hand in this. It was THE most difficult and emotionally charged event I have ever had and sometimes wonder if I can do it again. We haven’t thought that far ahead since she is only 8 months old and I am just enjoying every minute of her babyhood. Thanks for all of the postitive comments about motherhood and adoption, especially Oregonian. It made me feel good as an adoptive mother.

  • Michael Snider August 24, 2007, 12:20 pm

    I join the others in thanking you Alison for your lovely post. (kiar, and lovelee too – wonderful thoughts)
    As an adoptive father of three girls (14, 12, & 4), I have often wondered at how my wife (who is an adoptee) feels on the other end, i.e., not being able to give birth. We have talked at length, but I imagine a woman’s innermost feelings on motherhood may be difficult to fully express.
    Then I read the 7th chapter of Moroni one day where he quotes his father Mormon on the pure love of Christ. Then this clause from the oft quoted verse 48 hit me: “…that ye may become the sons of God…”
    I thought: “What’s with the word “become”….we’re already all children of God; isn’t that the song we sing? With meditation, a reason came to me. Of course we are all God’s children, but becoming sons and daughters, capable of eternal life is very much a process of becoming and is not guaranteed by our divine heritage, but by our coming to Christ. It is similar with us and our children – The birth or adoption process/choice is the first part – that’s how we get our children. But nurturing, teaching, and loving them so they live worthy of following us on a celestial path is entirely a process of helping them become disciples of Christ.
    every good thing…

  • Alison Moore Smith August 24, 2007, 3:07 pm

    Such very nice comments. Thank you all.

    Truly, I do feel sorry for those who cannot give birth. It’s such a difficult, mind-blowing, painful, wondrous, miraculous thing. To be sitting in a room of two and see it become three is the most amazing single moment in my life. I wish everyone could experience that.

    But the billions of single moments that accumulate to make a mother/child bond far surpass that one moment (or 18 hours or whatever) of giving birth. Far, far, far. And I so hope that dear, wonderful, couples do not miss the latter, greater miracle, just because they are unable to experience the former.

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