Two Are Adopted and One is Biological
One of the incredibly frustrating things other parents tell me is that it’s different to have adopted kids. That there’s something tangibly disparate about the attachment I have to Bella and Bubaloo because they’re not my kids (where “my” = I gave birth to or share genetics with). I’ve only ever heard this from parents who have biological children. They usually don’t have an adopted child, an adopted child in their extended family, or any general adoption connection. Without any experience in the realm of adoption, there is a subset of parents who are pretty certain, and vocal about it, that I must feel differently about my kids on the basis of biology.
I would argue vehemently against this. My proof is that I loved my dog, Gus, more than many of the biologically related humans in my life. His death was awful. I was completely and utterly smitten with this animal. I would have done anything for him. And he was a dog. My proof is that I love my wife more than any other human being in this world and we’re in no way biologically related.
Only in the past few weeks I began to feel differently about Bella and Bubaloo and Baby A. There was a clear divide in my emotional connection to my kids. In one corner, there was Bella and Bubaloo. In the other corner, Baby A. All of the children were competing for my attention, affection and parental investment.
This divide I was feeling between my children was initially unnerving. I felt guilty and wrong for feeling the way I did. I was feeling torn and I fleetingly suspected that it might be because of that adopted/biological divide.
I thought about it and reflected upon the situation. Wifey and I talked it through and she shared some of my feelings. I realized that while I’m feeling one way about two of my kids who happen to be adopted, and another way about one of my kids who happens to be biological (Wifey has adopted all three kids), these feelings had less to do with how I became their parent than with the age gap between the kids.
Bella and Bubaloo are teenagers now and they introduce all the complications and angst to our household that teens bring. Sometimes they’re just downright frustrating.
Instead of focusing solely on sheltering and raising them, Wifey and I are now trying to prepare and launch them into their forthcoming adulthood. We are standing behind them, and supporting them, as we gently try to ease them into independence. While there is still lots of love and nurture involved our parenting, we’re also now really focused on teaching the kids life skills and to be their own advocates. We have the hard conversations, we do the emotional maintenance and deep work with them. Sometimes I am so frustrated at the decisions they make or their behaviours and I feel that we’re forever running around in circles and never making progress.
They don’t crawl into my lap anymore for hugs and cuddles. I can’t just scoop them into my arms and with one kiss make their wounds better. I’m no longer the most exciting thing in their worlds. I’ve been replaced by videogames and youtube.
Baby A., on the other hand, has no world beyond her Mommies. She needs milk, diaper changes, sleep, cuddles and someone to help her explore her small world. She is joyful, and at times cranky, but her needs are very basic. Baby A. is entirely dependent upon us. Parenting her is simple.
The role I play in my kids’ lives and my feelings towards them was amplified as I sorted through some old pictures this weekend. Bella and Bubaloo were so little when we adopted them. They were tiny hurt children. Over the past 5 years they’ve transitioned from being little kids to teenagers. My heart swooned and burst as I remembered those early years and the fantastic young people they’re growing to be. They’ve changed and grown so much as human beings in such a short period of time.
What I realized is that I do feel differently about my kids, about the individuals that each of the three of them are, and it has nothing to do with how I became to be their mother. I fiercely love them all. It’s just harder sometimes to constantly like your teens.