*Join me as I welcome Kindra to share her story. I was going to share her story in May, but it has been on my heart all week. It is exactly where I have been. I pray that it will encourage your heart, especially you mommas who have just brought your daughter home.
Can I Really Have The Same Love For My Adopted Child As My Biological Children?
A friend of mine adopted a newborn, and had biological children in the mix as well. Interested in adoption myself, I asked her if she loved her adopted daughter like her bio babies. She explained that unlike having biological children, you do not have the nine months in the womb to bond. “Honestly it took one year,” she said, “and then there was no difference.”
Fast forward several years, and I had three bio babies, and was holding in my arms for the first time my newest baby from China. I was so relieved to finally be holding Colette, she was mine.
While in China, Colette hard a bit of a hard time bonding. We would stretch out our arms for her, and she wouldn’t raise her arms out in return. Eye contact for any length of time was almost non-existent. Attempts to cuddle were met with pushing farther away. I wondered if my little girl could love me, and if my love for her would perhaps wane.
Even though I loved her so much, I became frustrated when Colette would simply not look in my eyes, even though I was looking right in her eyes, and singing to her. And after we came home, I read to keep bonding times, especially eye contact, positive. So I thought I’d give it a try. I played peek-a-boo with her, sang her songs, made silly faces, and bottle feed and spoon fed her, even though she was a too old for those things by many parenting standards. And I was hoping that my tricks of great bonding games and silliness would work for her to bond. But I began to notice something change in my heart. My daughter did indeed bond to me more and more, but surprisingly to me, I noticed my heart growing in fondness for her. She became even more adorable to me than before. All of a sudden instead of being frustrated that she would not give me eye contact, I began to just love her regardless and be thankful for the little improvements she made day by day.
And I realized that often, our love for people is not solely an affection we have. Many times it is an action. To quote from C.S. Lewis,
When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less.
There are times I perhaps don’t feel like loving my husband, or my neighbor across the street, or a little one who is hitting me. But if I trust that my emotions will catch up with my actions.
Can my love for adopted vs. biological children be the same? Of course. Love is a choice. I think the real question however, is can I have the same natural affection? I just might need to fake it for a bit, but trust that my emotions for my children will catch up to my actions of love.
Natural affection is almost always strained by crisis. It is perhaps easier with a healthy (physically/ mentally) child. It is often a roll of the dice whether or not you will feel affection for an adopted child. Many feel it right away and many do not. One child’s pain might bring out disdain or compassion. I couldn’t easily tell you how I’d react to X child in need, especially if he/she is not “cute”. So rosy results are, in human terms, a flip of the coin. But then again so are bio kids.
Perhaps our goal is not the perfect healthy/happy/easy family. We love and pray that God would give us natural affection for all of our children, knowing that time and choice play a big part.
When I first read Kindra’s words, I had tears in my eyes. I had been struggling with these same frustrations and feelings with Liana. Choosing to love our children is not less love. Choosing to love is more powerful than feelings of love. God is giving me the love for her. Because I know that He is giving me the love, I can know that it is real love and it will grow to be something so beautiful.
No matter where you are on your journey through adoption, I hope those words are encouragement to you. Give yourself time. God is definitely in the business of changing hearts.
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Read more adoption stories here.