Lessons From an Adoptive Mom
By Courtney Excell
When we first set out on our adoption adventure, we knew very little about what adoption would entail. And like many others, we were afraid of the unknown. Through our journey, however, we have learned so much. Hoping to enlighten other hopeful adoptive parents, here are my top 5 things that I’ve learned since becoming an adoptive mom.
1. We Felt Love for Our Birth Mom Immediately
I had no idea that I could love and care for our birth mom so quickly! When we first started considering adoption, we had a decision to make. Did we want an open or closed adoption? At first, we could not see the benefits to an open adoption and were pretty closed off to the idea. We were nervous as to what an open relationship with our birth mom might mean down the road. Would an open adoption allow her to become overbearing? Would it cause her to wish she hadn’t placed her child to begin with? Those worries faded the first time we talked to our (now) son’s birth mom. I wouldn’t be able to describe adequately how I felt the first time we met, other than it just felt right. After E was born and we left the hospital, we both thought, “I can’t imagine not having her as a part of our lives now.” We decided that she will always be a part of our lives to whatever extent she wants to be. How can I ever put into words the love and gratitude I have for someone who trusted me enough to raise this little boy and gave me the opportunity to be a mom!? My wish is that she truly knows what a wonderful and incredible thing she did for us; she made our family more complete, and so she will always have a very special place in my heart.
2. Bonding with My Child Came Quickly, too.
At first, I was extremely nervous about bonding with our baby. I thought to myself often, “What if I don’t bond with him? Or what if I don’t really feel like I’m actually his mom, and just his adoptive mom? Then what…?” We were privileged enough to be present during the birth of our baby, and the second I saw even just the very top of his head I heard a voice inside me say, “That’s YOUR baby!” Since then I have not once, for even a second, felt otherwise. We learned very quickly that, for us, the love we felt and devoted to our baby was returned to us tenfold. I can’t imagine my life without E now! I remember them placing him in my arms and crying at the sight of this amazing, handsome little boy. My heart felt like it was going to explode! It did not matter that he did not grow inside of my body; in that single moment made my heart grow by ten sizes.
3. You Will Know When the Match is Right
Through the process of becoming an adoptive mom, there was a nagging fear in my mind that we were going to say no to the “right” baby or say yes to the baby that was meant for someone else. We had several birth moms reach out to us, and each time it was hard to say no to those adoption opportunities . . . until we talked to our son’s birth mom for the first time and everything clicked. It just made sense. We know now that we have the baby that was meant for us. It doesn’t matter how he got to our family, he is our son! He is exactly who we needed and he came at exactly the right time for all of us. You will know when your own adoption match is “right” for you and your family, too.
4. Let It Roll Right Off
As an adoptive mom, I’ve realized that I have subconsciously become hyper-aware of people asking if I am my son’s “real mom” or if my husband is his “real dad.” However, I have come to the point that my immediate reaction is, “I sure am!” Yes, he has a birth mom and I can technically be called an adoptive mom, but I am also his “real” mother. As in many situations, especially regarding adoption, there is always going to be someone that does not think before they speak– even if they do not mean it in a negative way. I have had to learn to let others’ words and opinions roll right off instead of allowing myself to get defensive or to later replay it over and over in my head. You will save yourself a lot of grief by letting opinions stay opinions and careless words remain dormant.
5. Adoption Does Not Need to be Scary
Adoption is not for everyone but it is also not as scary as some make it sound. Each adoption situation is different, and determining if it is best for your family is important. Funny enough, though, I still have a tough time not wanting to tell everyone that I meet about the amazing experience we have been through. I want to tell them about our birth mother and her amazing courage. I want to tell them about the roller-coaster of emotions we went through to get my son. I want to tell everyone that nerves are to be expected when it comes to adoption, but they don’t need to last forever! Yes, it is stressful. It can also be emotionally exhausting at times and might take longer than most of us would like. But when you meet that child that is meant for you and your family, you won’t change it for the world. Adoption is an amazing journey and our story is one that I am proud to share. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity we had to adopt, and for the chance I’ve had to learn these things through the process.