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Monday, February 21, 2011

What's the definition of real?

This morning, I was acting as referee in a disagreement between two of my kids when I heard these words:

"You like Kate best because she's your real daughter."

Ouch. Deep breath, try to stay focused on the behaviors at hand and not be drawn off the point...but with adopted kids, this kind of thinking is bound to come up. It deserves a considered response...so here's mine. This is for the child of my heart who is ever wondering (and not just in moments of anger) if I can possibly have enough love for each and every one of my kids.

As defined by The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition Copyright © 2010:

re·al 1 (rēˈəl, rēl)
  1. a. Being or occurring in fact or actuality; having verifiable existence: real objects; a real illness.
    You definitely exist, my child...I have a stack of documents from two countries and the battle scars from the fight we put up to adopt you to prove it...and I'm glad every day for your existence.
    b. True and actual; not imaginary, alleged, or ideal: real people, not ghosts; a film based on real life.
    While you have a great imagination, you're not at all imaginary.
    c. Of or founded on practical matters and concerns: a recent graduate experiencing the real world for the first time.
    I'd say raising you is a very practical concern of mine...because I love you ...and I chose you to be my child.
  2. Genuine and authentic; not artificial or spurious: real mink; real humility. You've always seemed genuine to me. If you were an android or robot, I'd think my grocery bill would be less.
  3. Being no less than what is stated; worthy of the name: a real friend. Trust me, when I call you "my child", it's with pride. You're worthy of the name.
  4. Free of pretense, falsehood, or affectation: tourists hoping for a real experience on the guided tour. There are times when you demonstrate pretense, falsehood, or affectation...but that makes you human...which is as real as it gets. It doesn't make you any less loved by me.
No, you weren't born from my body. I wasn't in labor with you in the physical sense. No, I didn't have the chance to give you your first bath, sing you to sleep at night, see your first steps, hear your first words. Yes, I had all those times with your sister Kate and I cherish them. Sharing these things with a baby is a precious gift. It should create a bond between mother and child that will last a lifetime...and I won't deny that Kate and I have that bond...but that doesn't lessen what I feel for you.

The truth is, I feel cheated out of all those special times that I missed with you. I'll always be sad that I didn't get the chance to forge that from-the-first-day bond with you. Sometimes, I wonder if I'll ever be able to fill that gap for you. I'm sad that based on your life experience, you have no good reason to trust me to love you the way you deserve to be loved...but I do. I've thought hard and searched my heart for the answer to your actual question: Do I love Kate more than you? I'd have to say no...which is not to say I love you all exactly the same way...because you are all unique...but that's a different story. I'd have to say no because of what my heart tells me each day. Born to my body or my heart, the love I feel for you is just as intense, as precious, as strong as the love I feel for your sister. I hope some day, you'll trust me enough to believe that.
With all my heart, 
            Your very real Mom


marythemom said...

When my adopted kids say I love my "real" kids more than I love them, then 1st I acknowledge that they're feeling unloved or jealous because things don't feel fair. 2nd I point out that I'm not biologically related to Hubby (yea!) and I love him a lot - you don't have to give birth to someone to love someone or for them to be part of your family.

When I hear, "You're not my "real" mom (which I used to hear often), I usually LOL and say, "are you saying I'm fake? I'm made of plastic? Cause if I were, this is so not the body shape I'd choose!"

Mary in TX

alphamama said...

Ha! Great response, Mary. I'll have to remember that one. Thanks so much!

alphamama said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
farmbeachgal said...

Dee, I'm seeing publication for this one. Promise me you'll send it in....

Miss Marissa said...

what a touching post, Dee. thank you so much for sharing. you give me faith in humanity, and help me believe that there are still good, kind people in this world! xo