Monday, November 18, 2013

Can I love a child I didn't give birth to? (Adoption Fears and Falsehoods Series)

So far in this series, we've covered the following fears and falsehoods that can be hindrances to adoption: "I could never afford it," "Is there really a need in the U.S.?" and "Birthmoms are scary." Let's look at another common fear:

It's something whispered in hushed tones, something few are willing to vocalize even though many considering adoption are thinking the same thing. Amidst the fears and falsehoods hindering people from pursuing adoption, this may be the most paralyzing of all. If you've considered adopting but haven't been able to move past this question, you're not alone.

Why? Why is that such a common fear as people are considering adoption?

  1. In America, we tend to define love primarily by an emotional feeling. We're all about passionate emotions and "love at first sight." We think that love is something that always happens immediately and without any effort. The thought that it may take time to grow in loving someone seems terrifying and wrong (when it fact, it's often the way that love works...even with biological children).
  2. We can very quickly make everything in life about ME. How I feel, how I think, how it effects ME. What if I don't feel an immediate overpowering love for my child? What if it takes time and effort for my love to strengthen and deepen? That would be hard for ME.
  3. We know that the love of parents is highly important for the well-being of children. We feel the weight of that responsibility but that weight can turn into fear, especially because...
  4. We're so self-sufficient that we think our ability to love is dependent upon us and our own strength. We don't want to ever need help from others or from God. We don't believe that He is able to do way more than we can in our own efforts.

Can you love a child that you didn't give birth to? Yes. But the speed and intensity at which that love grows is going to be different for each adoptive family.

For those adopting an infant, it's fairly unusual to lack that "connection" quickly. That doesn't mean those feelings will come immediately for everyone who adopts an infant. For some, they will feel it when they are matched with an expectant mom even before the child is born. For others, the deep love will come the minute they meet their child. For others, the connection may develop after the baby leaves the hospital and comes home. And for others, it may intensify in the days and months to come.

For those adopting an older child, the complexities of connecting and developing attachment and deepening love is often more of a process over time. That is understandable and normal; don't let it scare you away! Again, this looks different for each family. Loving someone often takes time. For many, it will take patience, it will take education and equipping, it may involve counseling or other outside help, and it will definitely take a dependence on the Author of Love Himself. But God is able to tightly wind the attachment an adoptive parent has with their child. (I love how my friend, Kim, poignantly addressed this.)

Can you love a child you didn't give birth to? Yes! If you are willing to accept that God is the author of love and He is more than able to bring it about in His timing, if you can see love as more than just an emotion, if you are willing to believe that not experiencing "love at first sight" doesn't determine the future love you can feel for your child, if you're willing to lay down your own love of ease and self for the sake of a child, if you're willing to do whatever you can to learn and grow and depend wholly on the Lord to deepen your love, then you don't need to be afraid. Don't let fear of your own abilities to love keep you from the beauty of adoption.
*I'd love to hear from you! Scroll down to where it says "Leave a message" if you have any thoughts you want to share.

(For more information about domestic adoption, please contact me at 
katief@christianadoptionconsultants.com)

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