There are certain things you hear a lot when you have adopted children. How did you know you could love someone else’s kids? Do you love them like you love your kids? Isn’t it weird that they don’t look like you? Are you worried about problems they might have that you might not know about? Does is feel the same as your own kids? You’re friends with their birth moms? Isn’t that weird?

Now, every one’s experiences are unique and I can only speak to my own, but I thought I’d share a few thoughts on love and biology. I always say that I’m the luckiest mom on earth because I have been blessed with so many different mothering experiences. I have two biological sons and two adopted sons.

Now I’m not one of those earth mother types. The “I love kids and all I ever wanted to do was have twelve of them” types. I am not overly sentimental and gushy about babies. I wasn’t head over heels in love with my child the moment I felt life bloom inside me. My pregnancies and births were really hard. Being a mom was really hard. Sure, I loved my children, but it took more than just giving birth for me to REALLY love and feel connected to my children. I needed time to learn who they were, to be with them, feel of their spirits, learn their likes and dislikes, and most importantly, to serve them.  

Have you ever noticed that you love those you serve? Have you ever been through an experience with someone that allowed or even forced you to dig deep within yourself to give more than you ever thought you could give? Your feelings for that person are forever changed. The love you feel for them becomes more than a passing fondness. It becomes deep and sacred. And there is no experience that requires as much daily, hourly service as being a mother.

As I was required to serve that first little scrawny baby, my little Josh who was so small I could hold his head in my hand and his feet wouldn’t even touch the bend of my elbow, who wanted to nurse every two hours for five minutes on each side and then threw half of it up down my shirt, who wouldn’t sleep unless he was being rocked and we only had one of those old wind up swings and those winds lasted for ten minutes, who had such horrible bowel movements that his nickname was rocket man…..I couldn’t believe that I could love something that was so much trouble.

As I struggled to take care of my second baby, Nathan, and Josh, now a toddler, after a near death experience giving birth that left me completely physically, emotionally, and spiritually depleted, even though I was so exhausted that I had to plan my life around two trips upstairs a day; I was so grateful that I was still around to get to know these two amazing boys, so grateful that I was able to serve them.

So when Jacob came along, and he was different than our family, and he was already 2 ½ months old, and he was a stranger, I knew it was going to take us both a little time to learn to love each other. And as I served him and got to know him, as I prayed with gratitude for this gift, my love for him grew in to the same kind of love I had for Josh and Nathan. And even more wonderful was the love that grew for a woman who was a complete stranger the day I met her and she handed me her child.

I’d like to say I was a pro by the time Rachel and Ben came along. I wasn’t, but it was getting easier to tap in to that knowledge that with service comes love.

So when people ask me if I love my adopted kids the same as I love my biological kids, sometimes I want to laugh and say, “You got a couple of hours?” Because I want to tell them all the ways, through many acts of service, through hours and hours of prayer and pleading, through the experience of being a biological mom and an adoptive mom, that I not only love them, but I LOVE them. And how I know that biology is only one small part of being a family, and that our children do not belong to us, they are entrusted to us and it is our privilege to be in their lives and to serve them. And how I know that I do not need to feel threatened by the love that my adopted sons have for their biological moms, because I love them too. And how I know that any time I’m not feeling that love because of my many imperfections, all I have to do is ask God to enlarge my heart and he will do it if I let Him. And how I feel that my family is better and I am better because of the opportunity we’ve had to learn more about love through our experience with adoption. But usually I just say “Yes”.