I guess in many ways, Mr. Lady Breaks and I were lucky. Long before we found out we were infertile, we discussed our desire to adopt. We always said that we would like to have one or two “of our own” and then we would pursue adoption. Of course at the time we were completely ignorant of how difficult achieving either of those dreams would be for us.
But that just the thing, it was two dreams. Biological was separate and distinct from adopted. Not worse, or better, but not the same. If we get this, we will do that.
Discovering that we were infertile started to break down this division in our hearts and minds. I remember sobbing one day thinking about the fact I would never see my husband’s eyes in a child, never see his curly mop bouncing away on a toddler. Never feel the gravity of a tiny foot pressing against my stomach, or feel the warm pressure of a newborn held tightly against my chest.
And this knowledge does still overwhelm me sometimes, but gradually I came to understand that experiencing these things does not make a child “your own.” Indeed, there are many biological parents that, for one reason or another, don’t experience some or any of those things (take fathers, for instance).
No, parenting is about making daily choices to love and nurture. Choosing to envelop someone completely into your care. Biology doesn’t determine whether you do this or not – of course there are plenty of biological parents who have sadly chosen not to. And, obviously, there are plenty of non-biological step/ foster/ adoptive parents who have chosen to do this. So, all in all, I have to conclude that being blood-related really doesn’t determine whether you’re a real family or not.
Just as I chose a non-blood-related husband “of my own” to love, fight, eat and create a family with, I can also choose to love and create a family with a child who needs one.
Last week I met a man who put this concept so beautifully and eloquently to me that I just have to share it. He said: “Adoption is an act of election, an act of belonging. It’s about choosing to love and care for someone, committing to protect and nourish them, just as you would a husband or wife.”
By electing to love, I am choosing to remove the invisible barrier between biological and adopted, just as the sweet poem for adoptees by Fleur Conkling Heylinger shows:
Not flesh of my flesh,
Nor bone of my bone,
But still miraculously my own.
Never forget for a single minute,
You didn’t grow under my heart,
But in it.