Some Things about Adoption vs. Biology are Hard to Admit

Pumkpin PatchSome things about adoption are hard to admit. And some things about biological children are hard to admit. I hesitate to be too forthcoming because my sons will read this blog someday. (If I can ever find the time or money, I will totally make this into a book or photobook or something. They will be all like, “Ugh, Mom, that’s so stupid. Who cares?! Stop talking!”) But here is one nugget that I have recently allowed myself to admit:

I am upset with my biological sons for gaining independence, but I am proud of my adopted son for gaining independence.

By the way, I never say “adopted son” unless I’m at the doctor. But here it seemed necessary to the sentence. I don’t want to be Mr. Royal Tennenbaum and introduce you to “my adopted daughter Margot.” Just as it’s important to say “the child with autism” (rather  than “the autistic child”), it’s important not to let “adopted” become that child’s adjective. Adoption was something that happened to him one time: on the day he was born.

Anyway, about that independence… My oldest son didn’t come from my body. As a result, I didn’t have the hormones that come along with pregnancy and birth. Adoptive mothers are still given the gift of that  lovely cuddling-induced hormone oxytocin, though, so we still bonded. But I never had to wrestle with that bittersweet feeling of watching him grow inside of me, and then grow outside of me. He came as a fully separate human being from me.  Therefore, when he started to crawl and walk away from me, it didn’t hurt. It was celebratory. I cheered him on. I see him doing things by himself and I have surges of pride.

Something weird is happening in my brain as my “biological sons” (again, I promise I don’t use that phrase in conversation) are learning to walk. I am feeling a wee bit, um, mad at them. Am I crazy?! Do other moms feel this way? In the newborn phase, they cuddled me because of gravity. Gravity forced them to rest against my chest. Then, in the baby phase, they actually cuddled me because they wanted to be close to me. Now, in the toddler phase, they are separate human beings with their own will. Sometimes that stings. It stings the momma who felt like they were part of her body for nine months of gestation and then one year of baby-dom. I am proud of them, but it stings, too.

To quote Raising Arizona (the best movie about infertility and child-stealing ever made): “Course I don’t really need another kid, but Dot says these-here are gettin’ too big to cuddle.” And that’s the “crux of the biscuit” right there. (Obscure Frank Zappa reference thrown in there for my Dad.) I have mommy guilt, and now I have mommy sadness. It’s not about them walking- it’s about me! I’m so sorry, kids, but you have to deal with me putting my issues all over you.

1)      I never had enough arms or time to cuddle them the way they needed, and now it’s too late = guilt

2)      I want more children but I don’t know if I can have more children (via any method) = sadness

As anyone who has watched a baby grow up knows, once he can move, that’s all he wants to do. Babies who can move are constantly on the move. If you’re lucky, you might get a few minutes of cuddles when they are falling asleep, waking up, or feeling sick.

However, I am noticing that the amount of children one has is inversely proportional to the amount of cuddling one receives. I may get one twin to cuddle for five seconds before he is distracted by one of his brothers doing something more exciting. I have been pushed aside for the wonderful world of movement, brothers, and distraction.

It’s the natural order of things. It is beautiful and wonderful and terrible.


8 thoughts on “Some Things about Adoption vs. Biology are Hard to Admit

  1. Don’t worry; once they get over the excitement and newness of their growing independence, they will return to your lap for just-because cuddles. Even Hudson, at 9.5 yo, will choose to sit right up against me on the sofa rather than spreading out on the other, unoccupied, sofa. And sometimes at night, he will ask me to lie down with him and snuggle for a few minutes before I kiss his cheek and say goodnight. Cannon sits on Karl’s lap all through Sacrament meeting even though he’s 7 and his buddies might see, and we have a whole tuck-in routine at night that is akin to a secret handshake. It is bittersweet when our babies grow up up – you know I wasn’t sure how to feel feel about having my days to myself now that Keaton is in kindergarten – but I promise that if you stay touchy-feely, so will they.


  2. Well written, feeling perspective. Thank you for it. It fills out some nuance of understanding many may not have been able to wrap their minds around yet.


  3. Not sure if it is the adoption issue or first child issue. I was thrilled for the solid food, walking, playing rough, “I’ll do it myself” times. It didn’t hit me until we realized that the next rounds of fertility work failed and I was out of options and losing an ovary. I mourned what might have been and wondered if I could have made more memories with my one and only. I have to tell myself if wishes were horses beggars would ride and move on. My almost 16 yr old still misses out on the high expense things his friends are doing sometimes, but he comes to me first when there is trouble, he comes to my aide when I’m in trouble and we still sometimes cuddle up on the sofa to watch a movie on cold dark nights. When I see his almost grown face covered in a “needs a shave” stubble I still see that happy baby and it pulls at my heart strings. I hope you can find a way to invite more little bundles of joy into your home, but if not realize this blog will be for you as much as for them in the coming years. I read David’s baby journals and realize I did OK, but I miss the baby days a bit too.


  4. My little monster has just started to walk and I am very proud, but only because he is walking holding my hand….. When that day comes that he walks away from me…. I will feel your pain. He has started to push me away sometimes when I cuddle him…. Heart breaking.


  5. (just found your blog and it’s fab, so forgive for a late comment)
    Don’t be certain it’s a bio/non-bio kid thing. It might be first kid, subsequent kid thing. My first was nearly pushed to do it all and celebrated. With my second, i’m much more clingy. And the second make the first seem so much bigger/older/mature, btw ! 😦


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