There are these moments in life when you feel love for another that extends deeper than the love you shared before. I have been having these moments with my oldest son lately. Each time an unnameable, unmeasurable kind of love. One that causes my heart to swell with a fullness, my lips to turn upward in a content smile, and one that provides a knowing that I am right where I belong. I belong as his mama. And he belongs as my son.
People often have reasons why adoption might not work for them. They tell me their reasons as though they are absolute truths when really they are unknowns, fears, stories. I’ve heard all of these things:
“Adoption is not an option because there’s no way I could love a child as deeply as I love my biological children.”
“I have a need to pass on my genetics.”
“Adoption doesn’t feel natural.”
“What if I can’t love a child who does not bear resemblance to me or my husband? What if I can’t love someone I did not make? Whom I did not grow?”
“I hear that adopted children are just a mess of problems. You never know what you’re really getting when you adopt.”
Let me shout it from my pedestal, my soapbox, my rooftop: I love my adopted boys as much as I love my bio boys! In fact, in some ways, it’s easier to love them. Their character flaws are not a mirror of my own. Their physical features and medical issues are not something I criticize in myself or passed on genetically to them. It’s in some ways easier to see them as the individuals they are. Separate from me.
My heart has been full with love for my oldest lately. I’ve had remembrances of his arrival into our decade-long coupledom. For a few months, he was simply a dream. An idea. A possibility of love extended. And then he became a stack of papers, phone calls, interviews, background checks until eventually he became a face and a name proudly displayed on the front of our fridge.
A few thousand miles later, he became the little boy with the laugh that melted me into a pile of mushy, gushy, pure, unadulterated love. A laugh that confirmed I was meant to be his mother from the moment of his conception. He had called me from the womb of his sacrificial birth mom and drew me across the world to find him. Patiently sitting out the days in that Kazakh orphanage until I heard his call and answered. Like the story of the red thread, our thread was connected and will forever remain connected.
That little boy (now a young man) continues to draw me in. Each time I learn a little more about him, his struggles, his insecurities, his passions, his longings, his miseries, and his triumphs, I find that I fall deeper in love. My heart expands even more, filling my chest with such spaciousness. It’s in these moments that I see him. And upon seeing him, I know my love for him is pure, genuine, unwavering, and as deep as any mother’s love is for her blood-borne bio children.
– I see him when after years of struggling he gets a dyslexia and SPD diagnosis, and we celebrate together. We don’t grieve. We celebrate because this diagnosis confirms what he’s believed (but questioned) all along. He is not dumb. He is simply challenged.
– I see him when we send positive energy to his birth mom on his birthday because “she probably thinks about me every year on this day, Mom.” I bet she thinks about him far more often than his birthday, but that’s when he really thinks about her.
– I see him when he cares for his chicken. He is a chicken whisperer.
– I see him when he’s passionately being creative behind the lens of my camera.
– I see him when he doesn’t care about winning races. I see his heart when a boy crashes his bike, and my son stops 10 yards from the finish line to help the boy up and fixes the boy’s chain without a single thought to winning.
– I see him when I am reminded that he helped us make a decision to adopt another child. He told us, “Every kid needs a home. We should be that home for him.” Those moments when he simply sees more clearly than I do.
– I see him when he gets in nature and can identify every bird of prey and tell you details about the shifting of their wings to make flight and hunting more efficient.
– I see him when he measures his feet and hands against my own and swells with pride when he realizes that we are officially equal in foot and hand size. And then he takes over my running shoes.
– I see him when he cries because he feels so different. When he notices his skin color and brown eyes amidst a sea of blue-eyed caucasians.
– I see him when he leans against me just to find grounding in that chaotic SPD mind of his.
– I see him when he chooses meditation and reflection as a way to find his center. When he gives his daddy advice that is on par with the wisdom of any guru or enlightened being.
– I see him when he holds a burial and funeral for a bird that “died alone” in a winter’s snow.
– I see him when we cheer for Team Astana in the Tour de France because Astana feels a bit like home.
– I see him when we are camping, and he is the first to run up and help our neighbor with an issue she is having and then he shakes her hand and introduces himself.
– I see him when he laughs hysterically at a comic book he is silently reading. It’s that same laugh I heard in a Kazakh orphanage that taught my heart a mother’s love.
– I see him when we watch a National Geographic documentary together about using eagles to hunt, and he grows taller as he connects with the Kazakh/Mongolian men in the film. As a family we are instantly connected to his culture, and we all see him a little clearer with that connection.
– I see him after we have watched that documentary and all of us are laughing at the fact that birds of prey and archery (two of his passions) might actually be in his blood.
– I see him when I tuck him in at night and still see remnants of those super chubby baby cheeks that begged to be squeezed and kissed.
– I see him when I apply for a job as an adoption outreach coordinator, and I realize that adoption is my passion. He has put the inspiration in me. He’s responsible for that passion.
– I see him when I find myself advocating for every single child to have a home. When I encourage people to explore adoption as a very viable option for expanding their families (and hearts).
– I see him every time I choose to see. He’s always there, as loving and open as that very first moment.
He did not inherit my genetic code. He in no way looks like me. He did arrive with his own set of “problems.” And you know what, those truths are exactly what make our relationship beautiful. What makes him beautiful. Blood type, skin color, nationality, genetic predisposition, DNA, origin, womb, egg, sperm, none of these are measures for the basic human right of giving and receiving love. When I see my son, I only see love. My love. His love. A love that knows no bounds.