For the sake of a little balance around here, I present ten things I love about being an adoptive mom*:
- My children are learning, first-hand, that family isn't just about circumstances of biology. It is also about the people we choose to love and the commitments we keep.
- It's fun to confuse the nurses at the doctor's office when you tell them you have two children, zero pregnancies.**
- Ditto the strangers who can't figure out which two children match up to you at the playground.
- My husband and I were able to equally participate in every aspect of childcare, from feeding to babywearing, from the very beginning and it's led to a wonderful emotional and logistical balance in our household. No one got a head start in bonding or the extra responsibility that comes along with it.
- If the baby-birthing moms in my playgroup are a representative sample, I am glad I can laugh hard without peeing a bitty bit.
- I've come to believe in the inherent resiliency of children and it has allowed me to let go of so many things I think I otherwise would have tried unnecessarily to control.
- At the same time--and this may seem like it contradicts #6, but it doesn't--witnessing my children's transition away from their birth parents led me to a more nurturing, attached parenting style than I probably would have let myself embrace had I birthed them. I'll never know the mother I would have been had my children been born to me. But, knowing myself, she may likely have missed out on what have been some of the most meaningful moments of my parenting life thus far, as I've stretched myself to understand and meet my kids' needs. I like the parent adoption has made me. (And I got to use attachment as an excuse to hog the babies when they were wee newborns.)
- I am more empathetic to people grieving ambiguous loss and finding themselves on paths they did not expect to take in life. In many ways, unplanned pregnancy and infertility are two sides of the same reproductive coin.
- I have no expectations, secret or otherwise, that my kids inherited some favorite trait or talent from my or Todd's family line. I discover and delight in their unique personalities together with them as they emerge.
- As a mom sharing motherhood in a mismatched, non-genetically-related, happily messy extended family created through open adoption, standing up to persistently narrow cultural paradigms of family and parenthood and saying with no apologies, "We're a family," is one of the more punk rock things I've ever done.
How about you?
* You all are smart cookies, so I'm going to skip the whole "these things may not be universally true nor exclusive to adoptive parenting" thing, mkay?
** Seriously, though, in this age when surrogacy, adoption, and step-parenting aren't exactly rare, you'd think they wouldn't be so consistently befuddled.