My family is formed through both adoption and birth. We adopted from Ethiopia first, then I gave birth to two more children. My relationship with my oldest daughter is complex because, at the back of my mind, I am always aware that she is also someone else’s daughter too.
We had the privilege of meeting her birth mother while we were in Ethiopia and are still in touch with her today. She is a very special woman to me, and I feel a connection to her like a sister – yet bound together additionally with the thread of motherhood.
When I make decisions for my daughter’s life, discipline her, or watch her accomplish milestones, I am doing so with the knowledge that she could very well have been raised by her birth mother. If circumstances had shifted even the slightest bit, my daughter would be calling someone else “mom.”
This awareness can be challenging at times, especially because I am a perfectionist who is always thinking and analyzing. She is my oldest, so it’s always firsts with her. She’s the one who is paving the way for freedoms and limits. It’s her life experiences that write the rules for our family. I worry that I’m too hard on her. That I’m too easy on her. I worry that I’m not giving her enough of myself now that there are two more children to take my time and attention.
But the question that is hardest for me, the one that whispers deceptively, quietly, in the hard moments is, “Do I love her as much or in the same way as my biological children?”
It’s a scary question.
It’s scary because I am her mom! I am the one raising her. If she doesn’t have all my love and support, who will give that to her?
Every night I go into her room after she’s asleep to shut off her lamp. Every night I gaze at her sleeping and marvel that she’s mine. I kiss her forehead and pray for her, and I also pray for me that I’ll be the mom she needs me to be.
The other night was a tough night when the questions in my head were loud. “Do I love her as much as my other kids? Am I a good enough mom for her? Am I failing her?” I went into her room after she was asleep, paused to look at her sleeping face, and I began to weep. Through my tears, I grabbed her hand and held it, then watched her as she slept. I prayed hard that I would be who she needs me to be and that I wouldn’t let her down. I prayed that I could be enough for her and give her wings to fly.
I spend so much time worrying if I love her “enough”. That moment told me everything I needed to know. I long to give her everything I have, everything I am. THAT is a mother’s love. And that is the kind of love I have for every single one of my kids.
Photo Credit: AMG Photography