It’s Valentine’s Day and the mind and heart turn naturally to discussions about love. So I went looking for adoption related articles (having slept late today and having a long day away from home today) to create a blog for such a special holiday. I found this 2007 The Guardian piece – LINK>A different kind of love by Kate Hilpern.
It begins with a question that I often see come up in my all things adoption group. Does a mother love a child she has adopted in the same way as she might love a birth child? And why is it such a taboo to ask?
One adoptive mother answers – ‘If something tragic happened to my adopted daughter I’d be devastated, but I wouldn’t die. If something happened to either of my two boys who I gave birth to, I feel I would die,” says Tina Pattie. “I don’t love my daughter any less, but it’s a different kind of love. With my sons, my love is set in stone. It’s that ‘die for you love’ that would never change, no matter what. With Cheri, it’s a love that develops and grows. It’s more of a process than an absolute.” And to my own thinking, that might be why a love for the child too often fails in an adoptive situation.
The article goes on to note – Ask most adopters whether they think their love for their children is any different than it would be if they had their own offspring, and you can generally expect a resounding no. Very likely, they’ll be offended it even crossed your mind. But in families such as Tina Pattie’s – where there are both biological and non-biological children – it’s a question that is put to the test. It’s a question that gets to the very heart of what it means to be a parent.
“I don’t care how close you are to your adopted son or beloved stepdaughter, the love you have for your non-biological child isn’t the same as the love you have for your own flesh and blood,” wrote Rebecca Walker in her recent book, Baby Love. “Yes, I would do anything for my first [non-biological] son, within reason. But I would do anything at all for my second [biological] child without reason, without a doubt,” added the estranged daughter of the renowned author Alice Walker. Understandably, her comment has attracted a lot of controversy.
Tina had always wanted three children, so when she was told it could jeopardize her health to have a third baby naturally, she persuaded her husband to adopt. Her preference was for a baby, but there were none available and they were offered a little girl five weeks off her fourth birthday. “I was totally and absolutely shocked to find that in the early years, I felt no love at all for her,” recalls Tina. “It didn’t even feel right to say she was my daughter. The word ‘daughter’ describes a relationship, a connection – things we didn’t have.” There was no one point at which Tina began to love Cheri, now 17. “It was a drip, drip, drip kind of process. Now, I love her a lot. I’m really proud of her and close to her, but it has taken time,” she says.
Tina has spent a lot of time “unpacking” the disparity in her feelings for her children. “I think there are several things going on. First, she wasn’t a newborn baby, like my sons had been. There’s nothing quite like a newborn baby. Second, when you get a stranger in your house, you’re not going to love it straight away, you’re just not. Then there was the fact that Cheri was a hugely damaged and difficult child. Even now, I wonder that if she’d been sweet and easy instead of angry and violent whether it would have been different. Instead, I turned from a calm, patient mother into a monster. I’d never felt rage like that, ever. But even in the blackest moments, when there was no connection between us at all, there was never a question that I would give up.” This is not at all uncommon, adoptive children have trauma, it is unavoidable.
There is more with other stories on a related theme in The Guardian article, if you are interested.
2 thoughts on “A Different Kind of Love”
How the hell would an infertile know what it feels like to love a child that is part of them, that they gave birth to? They don’t and therefore their opinion on this matter is null and void. Most adopters are psychopaths and psychopaths mimic what other people say to come off as being normal or actually caring. This is why adopters use the bogus “unconditional love” phrase which is disproved EVERY time we express our pain about not being with our real mothers or knowing them.
Adoption is without a doubt the fakeist and biggest scam in the world and adopters are the biggest liars/phonies on the face of the earth. They don’t know shit about being mothers and parents because they aren’t.
They’re just over glorified babysitters and that’s all they’ll ever be.
I believe the discussion related to women who have given birth. Who have both adopted and biological children. No argument with you about personality traits in adoptive parents. I do understand the pain, though perhaps second hand – both my parents were adoptees, both of my sisters gave up children to adoption. No argument from me about pain or trauma related to adoption. You are most welcome to expressing your feeling, emotions and perspectives here.