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Two Different Kinds of Love

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Most of us who are connected to adoption have read the beautiful poem, The Legacy of an Adopted Child. The poem touches on what a Birthmother and an adoptive Mother have to offer an adopted child. From nationality, to a name; from direction, to life-this poem reminds both adoptive Mothers and Birthmother how significant each of our roles are in our child's life truly are.

However, the last line of the poem lingered in my mind, and caused me to wonder. It states, "Nature or nurture, which are you the product of? Neither, my darling, just two different kinds of love." A very powerful point, yes, but...Is our love really that different?

Sadly, numerous adoptive Mothers and Birthmothers are continuously comparing themselves, their sacrifices, their love with one another. Instead of respecting, and appreciating the similarities between one another, some tend to belittle, and devalue the importance of the roles each mother has in their child's life.

Here are just a few similarities between a Birthmother and an adoptive Mother:

We are both women:

Before we are adoptive Mothers, or Birthmothers...we are women. We are both someone's daughter, someone's best friend. We both were once little girls with big dreams, and we both are concerned with or face issues such as; breast cancer, rape, motherhood, marriage, careers, and friendships.

We both struggle, or have struggled with self-image, and self love. Both adoptive Mothers and Birthmothers may have fallen head over heels with a handsome young man. Possibly, we both have had our hearts broken and even some have survived the unthinkable. It is sad to know that as women, through our friendships with other women, we have the resources to build each other up, yet, all too often, we tear one another down-often in times when we need fellowship the most.

We both want the best for our children:

An adoptive Mother will work hard to provide a loving, stable home for her child. A Birthmother will place her child in the arms and heart of another, so that her child may have a better life. Though our walk is not the same, the road in which we tread leads to the same destination: the best life possible for our child.

We both love, pray for, think of, and worry over our children:

An adoptive Mother may pray over her children as they head off to school, a Birthmother may pray for her child as she heads off to school. An adoptive Mother worries if her child will be safe at the park with his friends, a Birthmother may worry if her child is well taken care of. An adoptive Mother remembers the time her child gave her a special gummy smile, a Birthmother remembers the times when her child would squirm within her womb-almost of saying, "I am growing!"

We both have a season of waiting:

Many adoptive Mothers wait as they go through numerous fertility treatments, only to realize they are yet again, not pregnant. An adoptive Mother waits for the adoption agency to call informing her that she is "expecting" her first child. She waits on edge at the hospital while the potential Birthmother makes her final decision. Maybe she will wait for years in fear-she is afraid her child will choose his Birthmother over her. Possibly, she will wait for a long over-due letter from her daughter's Birthmother, who backed out of the open adoption years ago.

A Birthmother waits between letters and visits to be informed of the well being of the child she placed for adoption. Many Birthmothers have waited 18,21,30...years until any word of the children they gave up. Some Birthmothers wait years before they finally receive pictures or letters promised to them, and when they do, they are out-dated and blurry. Some, like myself, wait until it all comes full circle. I believe when my daughter has her own child, it will be then she will truly understand how much I love her.

Others may not believe we truly are Mothers: Whether you are a Birthmother reading this, or an adoptive Mother-we have both cringed as someone implied that we are not a "real mother". An adoptive Mother may hear, "So, aren't you afraid her 'real mother' will come looking for her?"

A Birthmother hears, "A 'real mother' changes diapers and...."

It is not the act of birthing a child that makes me a mother, nor the act of signing an adoption decree that makes you a mother-for it is our love that makes us Mothers.

Becoming a mother is not an event; it is a commitment.

We both know loss:

An adoptive mother knows loss, for she has lost the dream of pregnancy, and the birth to a biological child that possesses a reflection of her husband and herself. (Of course, I am in no way implying that an adoptive Mother loves her adopted child less, only that she had to face her infertility, accept it, and choose a new path toward motherhood.) She had to face the truth that her body would not do what many women's bodies do-even those who do not even wish to be pregnant. Each friend's child's birthday party is a reminder, each trip past the infant section at the mall is a reminder, each time she hears the news another friend or family member is pregnant...is a reminder to what was lost.

A Birthmother knows loss, for she has lost the dream of parenting her child. She knows what is best for her child, and is willing to loose everything for that child's gain. She had to face her pregnancy, accept it, and choose a painful path. Each friend's child's birthday party is a reminder; each trip past the infant section at the mall is a reminder; each time she hears the news that another friend or family member is pregnant...is a reminder to what was lost.

We both are at the mercy of others:

Sitting in an adoption agency, surrounded by photos of happy families built through adoption, an adoptive Mother hands over the 'Dear Birthmother' letter her husband and her poured weeks into making. An adoptive Mother waits for an expecting mother to choose her and her husband to adopt her child. An adoptive Mother receives the news that her eighteen-year-old daughter found her Birthmother-and her Birthmother will be flying in for a reunion.

Sitting in an adoption agency, surrounded by photos of happy families built through adoption, a Birthmother hands over the papers bearing her signature-papers that legally sever her from her child. A Birthmother runs to the mailbox each month, just hoping that finally the adoptive Parents sent the pictures they agreed to send. A Birthmother looks longingly out the window, wondering when or if her child will search for her.

Two different kinds of love?

Personally, I believe our love comes from the same place inside, it is just that our outside circumstances may be different, thus we choose differently from one another. One chooses to let go, and another chooses to hold on.

I loved my daughter enough to let go, and her mother loved her enough to hold on. As she expressed to me once, "....I am glad you let go so that I could hold on, but I am not holding on so tight where there is no room for you."

Two different kinds of love? No, just two different women, both loving one precious child.

Skye Hardwick (c)2002 Do not use without Author's permission.

*Legacy of an Adopted Child - Author Unknown

Credits: Skye Hardwick

Visitor Comments (2)
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Penny LeBaron - 6 months ago
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I wrote that poem when I was 15, back in 1985. It was only about 10 years ago that I realized that it was credited to author unknown and that the title had been changed from Two Different Kinds of Love #1
Stacy - 1 year ago
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I really enjoyed reading this. I am an adoptee who has gone through the journey that many of us do to understand the depth of love that adoption entails. Thank you! How can I obtain permission to use this article as a reference for a reflection paper that I am writing for school? Please let me know; this I feel would be helpful to counselors who are attempting to gain perspective of teir clients processes. Warm regards, Stacy #2
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