Usually, when someone asks if I love child 4 like I love my three older children, I answer bluntly and to the point but this week it was different. The person who asked was careful with the way they asked the question and it wasn't a curiosity about my relationship with my children, it was an honest question, a question from her heart, she was asking if the love for an adopted child could be the same as that for a child you give birth too. She was asking because in probability the only way for her to have a child would be through adoption.
My answer was as quick as always, but, a little later it did make me stop and think. I could understand the concern, there is so much in the parenting world about pregnancy, mothers bonding and that desired mothers love. Interestingly, I didn't really like my first baby when she was born and when I, concerned by my lack of love for this beautiful, helpless baby told my mum of my fears her response was "well I didn't like you too much either"
As a new young mum, I did not speak of my worries with my new found post natal friends, fear of looking like a bad parent meant that I kept my worries to myself. I wonder how many other mothers feel the same as I. Many I suspect. As a society we worry so much about how things must look, about how we should behave so that sometimes we miss what is right in front of us. Of course I struggled to love my baby in the way that magazines and today social media portrays, bouncing, perfectly dressed babies and mothers. No one seems to show the long hours of labour, the stitches, the blood loss, the agony of breast feeding, the exhaustion. It was no wonder that I wasn't overly fond of my first born. But, the mothering instinct kicked in, I fed her, changed her, talked to her and when she did sleep I sometimes watched over her, slightly awed by what my husband and I had created.
Those want to be parents, who can not chose the birth route must feel just as scared, but in a different way. I would not even try to guess their worries and concerns, how could I have any real idea. But, having been fortunate enough to have done both, birth and adoption I can say, unreservedly and wholeheartedly that the love I hold for my children is the same for each of them, they are four totally different characters with different strengths and different flaws. As parents we have to adapt our parenting to fit with who they are to ensure we support them the best we can and yes I am more protective of child 4, his uncertain beginnings mean that his need for us is a little different, more demanding maybe. But the love is the same.