What You Should Know About These Fears
Whether voiced or not, this is a common fear that lingers in the minds of some people who have adopted a child, as well as those considering adopting a child. Posted tentatively into online forums, potential adoptive parents confess: “I’m afraid that if I adopt, my child will love his biological parents more than me.”
Despite the work to end stigmas surrounding adoption, there are still many fears surrounding “real parents,” not just in the minds of adoptive parents, but in those of birth families and the friends of the birth and adoptive families who mean well.
People may ask birth or adoptive parents who are entering into an adoption questions like, “Aren’t you worried that they’ll want to live with their real family when they get older?” Of course, this does nothing to ease fears about the future happiness of adopted children, nor the nagging feelings of jealousy mixed with shame that many birth and adoptive parents feel about their child’s potential loyalties.
But through these moments of fear and jealousy, the voices you should listen to are the voices of experience.
Birth Parents Aren’t Out to Take Your Role as Parents
Biological ties are important. An adopted child’s relationship with their birth family often offers a sense of wholeness and is a positive presence in the lives of many young adoptees today thanks to the rise of open adoptions.
But, as we know, biology isn’t the most important influence in a person’s life. And although many birth parents are excited to maintain a role in their child’s life to some extent through an open adoption, that doesn’t mean that they want your role in the family unit. The role of “birth parent” is very different than that of a “parent,” and this is something that most birth parents completely understand and respect.
When a woman makes the difficult decision to place her child into your family through adoption, she does so with the understanding that you will be her child’s parent. She trusts you to perform that job well. Please respect her enough to understand that she doesn’t pose a threat to your place in your child’s heart.
Remember: your child’s birth parents chose you. Even though she’ll grieve for the loss of her child, she wants you to succeed as a parent and she wants your child to love you and be happy!
Adoptive Parents Love Their Children
You are your child’s Mom or Dad. You clean up messes and weather tantrums. You share in the joys of their triumphs, both big and small. Adoptive parents are simply parents.
Family bonds that are created and nurtured are strong, no matter how you became a family. “Family” is a muscle that is strengthened with work.
And for any parents who have ever worried that they might not love an adopted child as much as a biological child: don’t. Parents who have raised both adopted and biological children will tell you that the love parents have for their children is equally strong, regardless of biological ties.
If you’re not yet a parent and you’re still considering adopting, ask any adoptive parent how they feel about their children. It may not hit everyone “at first sight,” but the love that families who were brought together through adoption have for one another is just as “real” and just as strong as any other family.
Your Child Loves You
Your child also loves his or her birth parents. That’s a good thing!
Anyone who’s ever talked to a happy child knows they’re chock full of love. They have room in their hearts for birth and adoptive families. That doesn’t diminish their love for you, nor does it confuse them about your place in their lives and hearts as their parent.
Children in open adoptions grow up understanding who their birth parents are and loving them. But it isn’t the same kind of love they feel for their parents. The love a person feels for their parents is unique.
Ask an adult adoptee and they’ll tell you who their parents are. Your child may be too young to express how they feel about you (or their adoption) right now. But if they could, any fear, doubt or jealousy in your mind would probably melt away.
Don’t Let Your Fear and Jealousy Become Your Child’s Anxiety
Even when listening to the reassurances of adult adoptees as well as birth and adoptive parents, it can be hard to put worries about your child potentially favoring their birth parents at ease. However, making an effort to calm those feelings of jealousy is important not only for your own happiness, but for your child’s.
Our personal insecurities often creep into our thoughts and actions, but if you don’t make peace with some of your worries, your child may catch on to your feelings and misunderstand. Many adoptees see their parents’ fears and reservations about their birth parents and bury their questions and feelings about their adoption so as not to “hurt their parents’ feelings.” Let them know that it’s ok to love their birth family, and that they’re not “betraying” you when they ask questions about their adoption or express interest or affection toward their birth parents.
If you adopt, your child won’t love his or her biological parents more than you. Your child will hold a place in their hearts for their birth family, and that’s something you’ll need to respect. But to your child, you’ll always be “Mom” or “Dad.”
Need to talk to someone about your adoption worries? Reach out to an adoption professional now.