I have eight children, six are adopted. We have varying degrees of openness in our adoptions. Our birth parents range from severely mentally ill, to profoundly developmentally delayed. They are all my family.

My children love them because they are a part of them in a way my husband and I will never be, and never want to be. They would not be who they are if they had come from our bodies. And by the very fact that these birth parents are so much like these children that I love, I find no alternative but to love them too.  My children came from them. I see in my children the opportunity and potential some of their birth parents never had; to be loved and honored for who they are. I see in the birth parents the same beautiful hearts I see in my children.

It sounds idealistic and unreal to some to not be threatened by my children’s’ “other parents.” Even on the day my ten-year-old son said, “I wish I lived with my real mom and never knew you.” In that moment I had to stop and think, and realize the loss of his family he never lived with was so huge I bet he did wish to live with them at that moment. Perhaps he has felt that way many times in his life. If I was him, I might also. Does that mean he does not love me? No. By his very love for me, he is safe to grieve and share the pain of his loss. That pain that no matter how much adoptive parents wish it wasn’t there, it is. The same as our kids’ noses or eyes.

I am mindful that my husband and I have been given gifts in these children. I pray daily that I am able to do the job. I worry some days that they deserve more. I cannot for a moment imagine my life without them, without their birth families as a part of my family. My life and heart have been made full by the gifts I have received.