It’s different. There, I said it. And to be honest, it feels pretty good to get it off my chest. For over a year now, I’ve struggled with guilt over the fact that I love James a little differently than I love Isaac, Hannah and Lydia. Before you think I’m a terrible, awful mother, let me say that it’s a common thought among adoptive parents. Not all, but many adoptive parents, particularly parents of older adopted children, talk about these things in hushed voices behind closed doors. Most of the time, you can see some distress on their faces as they gingerly say the thing that terrifies them the most. And yes, they are worried what you might think of them, and they are also worried that they are somehow cheating their adopted child, maybe not doing the job that God called them to do.
The absence of those precious early years with James haunt me every day. There’s not a minute that goes by that I don’t wish that I had gotten to hold him, cuddle him, and rub his tiny hand as he drifts off to sleep in the comfort of a crib set up just for him. It pains me to talk about the things that my biological kids did when they were babies. I show them a video from the past, and I can see it in his eyes, the hunger for a video of him when he was a baby, the wish that I had a cute story about him. I wish it too. But it’s just not there. This is a hole in our history that we both will always grieve. And due in large part to this fact, our love is on a bit of a different course.
As I’ve tried to put an adjective to my love for him, I’ve only come up with one. Fierce. My love towards James is a fierce love. It’s a love that is determined to prove to him his worth. I refuse to allow him to believe that he will never amount to anything. I refuse to accept, “Nah, I don’t want to learn that new thing,” because he says it out of fear that he will fail, but I know he will fly if he just tries. I refuse to allow him to gain acceptance through acting out or acting babyish. Because I know who he is…he’s a bright, sweet boy that anyone would love to get to know. It’s a love born out of determination, and it’s a love that is slowly and tenderly formed alongside each other. As I’ve walked this adoptive parent path now for over a year, I have come to realize that not everyone understands a fierce love. But I think this is what adoptive parents have in common…the ability to love in many different ways.
And it’s my prayer that this post might comfort prospective adoptive parents who say the words that have fallen out of the mouths of thousands of adoptive parents before you…”But what if I can’t love them like I love my other child?” So let me take this opportunity to tell you that you probably won’t, and that’s okay. A different love doesn’t mean it’s wrong. And even a different love…a fierce love…has the amazing ability to grow over time.
I believe with all my heart that God has a plan for James. A big plan, and as much as I’ve tried to be the perfect mom for him, I’m still just me-completely imperfect me. So, I’m slowly coming to accept the idea that God knew that I would love James in a fierce way. And maybe that’s just the different kind of love he needs to be everything that God wants for him.