A few weeks after giving birth to my youngest daughter I bravely ventured out to rejoin my mommy and me group, taking along my newborn and my oldest daughter. I sat down to a brunch and began chit chatting with the ladies around the table as they cooed over my new baby girl and took turns holding her. I was tired, I was hormonal, I was emotional, and then was asked this question by a woman I mildly knew.
“So, now that you have your own baby – there’s a difference right? A difference in how you love your adopted child and your real one, right? How could you love them the same?”
I wanted to hit her – in the face. I wanted to be outraged and flip over my chair and storm from the room. I wanted to scream at her. I wanted to cry. But I sat there with fury raging and drawing my newborn closer to my body tried at a reply that would feel like an outraged scream filled slap in the face.
“Both of my children are real. I love them both. They are my daughters – there is no difference in the love I feel for them. They are both loved equally and with all my heart.”
Outraged scream filled slap in the face – fail. She smiled and said, “Oh.” And then added, “I can’t imagine.”
Internally I knew she was naïve. Knowing her a little, I knew she meant no harm. But as we Blended parents know, she pushed all the buttons using inappropriate terms like ‘real children’ and ‘own child.’ Sadly however, while this was the first time I heard this question, and encountered such off the cuff rudeness, it would not be my last (and yes, even in front of my now much older children).
I think what I have learned over the years of parenting a bio-adoptive family is that people outside of our community are curious; sometimes intrusively so. What they don’t understand is the adoptive pregnancy it took to conceive and wait for my firstborn child. They can’t comprehend the wondering, the waiting, and all the emotions of engaging in the adoption choice – which, I might add, were just like my biological pregnancies. They don’t realize that when I first held my daughter at eleven weeks old, it was love at first sight, and while I had to work hard at attachment, she was my child, the one I protected, coddled, kissed, and marveled at her perfection. These are all the same emotions and truths of my biological pregnancies. It was the same experience. It is the same wholehearted, head over heels love.
I often struggle with compassion for those who say such blatantly insensitive comments, but now realize as my children grow older, all eyes are on me to display a reaction that will benefit them, protect them, and leave our family’s emotional health intact. I confess it is a struggle and one that most likely will never go away. The good thing is that I am armed and ready to respond to most invasive questions at this point, and I see in my children that by my responses they are arming themselves too. And that is part of loving my Blended family well.
So, when you have the outraged scream filled slap in the face moment, as I’m certain you will, let’s take a moment to educate and explain what real love is – and what it looks like in our Blended families. When it comes down to the balance of a family, it really is a love thing.