The first time I saw the newborn baby that would become my daughter, I was stunned. I didn't feel it. I only felt.... fear. There was no instant connection. There was no instant love. There wasn't the unseen biological thread binding us together.
As an adoptive mother, it has taken me years to admit that it's different. It's not less, it's just different. There are other human beings on the planet who have a biological connection with my children that I won't ever have. I have never had the joy of watching my child's mannerisms or habits and thinking, "That's just like me!" They don't look like me. They don't sound like me. They don't laugh like me.
Are they like me at all? Yes. They are sarcastic, like me. They are messy, like me. (Do I ever have to force myself to stay neat so they will!) They are hardworking, like their dad.
Are we connected? Yes. Even when they live far away, I seem to know when they are struggling. If we are in the same room, I can see a glint in their eyes and know if it is joy, pain, or mischief.
Are they my children?1000 times yes!!
But it's different.
I was always so defensive of being their "real"mom because I am, but so is the woman who gave birth to them. In a perfect world, adoption wouldn't be. Children would be born to parents who had all the needed strengths to raise their babies. Parents wouldn't die. Father's wouldn't feel like they needed to leave. Mother's wouldn't feel like they just couldn't do for their children all that they longed to do. Couples could conceive.
But we don't live in a perfect world and adoption, though it is beautiful, isn't a perfect solution.
Like everything else in our jumbled world, we do the best we can.
The first time I held that baby, I felt the weight of responsibility and the hope for the future. We put her in her carseat and headed home. Part of me watched warily behind us for sirens and lights because we were taking someone else's child.
On a hot April day, some 29 years later, I entered a house and met the woman with whom I shared a most precious gift. We embraced and she thanked me for loving her child while I thanked her for giving me my child to love.
It's different. It's precious.