The “What If” Questions of Adoption

Written by Anne Sawan

The other day a friend called and asked if I would be willing to meet with a young woman she knows who is thinking about adopting a baby. I said yes, of course. I am always eager to share with and support any person who is interested in adoption.

The young woman and I met at a local coffee shop and over cappuccino and cake, we chatted. Just the basics at first: reputable adoption agencies, the stress of home visits, the never-ending paperwork, and so on. Then she told me that she has biological children already, as did I before adopting my daughter. She hesitated and looked away and in that instant, I saw it: that one question she was so desperate to ask but too afraid to say. That one fear that feels too shameful to admit.

“You can ask me anything,” I said. “Really, anything.”

She looked at me, her eyes meeting mine and whispered, “What if….”

What if…
What if I don’t love this child the same as I love the others?

This question is probably every pre-adoptive parent’s secret worry.

Many years ago I had my first biological child and she quickly took over my heart and soul. She became the very essence of my life, so when I found out I was pregnant again, I was terrified.

What if?
What if I couldn’t love another child as much as I loved her?
What if I couldn’t fit any more love into my heart?
What if I felt differently about this child?

At my child’s next doctor’s visit, my pediatrician was tapping my daughter’s knees and looking in her ears when he casually asked me how my pregnancy was going. My pediatrician was one of those kind, grandfatherly types and so for some reason when he asked, instead of responding with the usual, “Great! We are so excited!” I suddenly found myself blurting out all of the terrible “What ifs?” I had been holding inside.

My doctor smiled, calmly handed me my baby and said, “The human body is truly an amazing thing. Did you know that it has been scientifically proven that for each child a mother has, she doesn’t just share the heart that is already there but she grows a brand new one.”

Years later when beginning my adoption journey to my youngest child I again found myself consumed with the terrible “What ifs?” Because this, after all, was different, wasn’t it? Then I remembered those words.

Words of wisdom. Words of truth. Words I had seen proven over and over again.

A new heart will be born.

So as I sat there, ten years after adopting my child, with this young woman who was now bravely wrestling with the same worries and fears that so many of us have at the beginning of our motherhood journey, I nodded, smiled and shared my updated version of the truth. “Did you know, that it is a scientific fact that for each child a mother has, no matter how that child enters her life, a brand new heart will always grow.”

 

 

(Previously published in Adoptive Families Magazine.)

About the author

Anne Sawan

Mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, writer, runner, psychologist. Reluctant dog-cat-rabbit-chicken-fish owner. Believes in the power of the sun, love, and tequila. Anne's writing has appeared on Bluntmoms, Scary Mommy, Ten to Twenty, Brain-Child, Adoptive Families and Adoption Today. Her first picture book, "What Can Your Grandma Do?" is now available.

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