Last night, while tightly hugging me around my neck, my twenty-three month old spontaneously told me that she loved me – for the first time. “I love you.” Oh, how those words hold such magic. I immediately became a puddle of mommy love, Callie melting to the ground with me. I then filed this memory in that ever-growing box in my brain titled “Memories Never to be Forgotten.” I hope this box doesn’t fail me because that is surely a moment that I never want to forget. Callie’s older sister Samantha has a genetic condition and developmental delay so I may never hear “I love you” from her. That’s ok. I know she loves me. But hearing those words from Callie was a magical moment.
When Samantha was nearly a year old we thought about having another child. Only eight months later we were blessed with Callie. We were scared at the closeness of age with a special needs child but we were also filled with pure joy. When I first saw Callie I instantly fell in love, but admittedly, the mother/daughter connection took some time. I remember holding her on the couch one day and I was overcome with a tremendous amount of love. I thought, “She is my daughter. She is mine.” It seems so simple but it held such strength and power. Memory filed in box. From that day on, I have felt a deep connection with her that continues to grow.
Being a mother of two, I have learned for myself what everyone has told me for years. Each child comes to earth with her own personality. Those mixed personalities combined with love make a family. Samantha loves to cuddle. Callie prefers being chased around. Sammy eats anything. Callie doesn’t. Their differences compliment each other. For instance, Samantha likes to be comforted, while Callie likes to do the comforting. When Sammy is sad, Callie is concerned and gives her sister hugs and kisses.
Of course, there are many similarities too. They’re social. They laugh easily. They’re determined to figure it out on their own – frequently they do. And they both clearly love their mommy and daddy. When Callie was born our family became more complete.
There is one more difference that may seem obvious to others, but that I frequently forget: I delivered Samantha in a hospital. Callie was delivered to me by an adoption caseworker. Surprisingly, I have had several people tell me that they could never adopt because they couldn’t love someone else’s child as if he/she was their own. But you see, that child becomes your own. There is no doubt in my mind or in Callie’s mind that I’m her mother and she is my daughter. I understand that she’ll have questions and may want to meet her birthmother. That is why we chose open adoption. But when it comes to love between a mother and her child, it doesn’t matter if the child is biological or not. Callie’s birthmother, as the mother who gave her life, will always love her. That is a mother’s love. And I, as Callie’s mother who raises her, will always love her and think of her as my own. That is a mother’s love.
November is a month of Thanksgiving. It is also National Adoption Month in the United States. For our family, this is extremely fitting that these two are celebrated together. Without birthmothers who selflessly sacrifice so their babies can have a better life, our family would be incomplete. Everyday, we give thanks for adoption. We give thanks for the laws that allow it, and for individuals who sacrifice so families can be complete. As we celebrate the season of Thanksgiving, we also consider the blessings and joys of adoption for many families around the world.
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