Dear Adoptive Mama,

As women, sometimes we compare ourselves to each other and it gets us down. This is especially true in the parenting world. During the hard times, remember the words of Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Please remember that you are adequate, and no less significant than any other parent. You are a REAL mom with a real child. You are not held to any higher standard than any other mother. You are just as free to make mistakes as anyone else.

Like many adoptive moms, adoption may have been the only way you could be a mommy. It’s okay to grieve that. It’s okay to be sad that you didn’t get to experience pregnancy firsthand. You didn’t get a cute belly and glowing skin. You didn’t get to have everyone around you offer you their seat or their place in line, and ask you how excited you are to be a mama. You couldn’t feel the joy that comes with feeling your little one growing and kicking inside you. And that is a loss. Grieving infertility does not take away from your love for your child. It’s okay to not be okay.

If the way you came into motherhood isn’t quite as you expected, that’s all right. Life is not a fairy tale. Maybe you haven’t bonded with your baby like you expected. Maybe you’re feeling sad and listless, or struggling with the judgments of others. Just know that your struggles, while unique, are also very similar to the trials many biological mothers face.

Grieving infertility does not take away from your love for your child. It’s okay to not be okay.

You are a “real” mom. Unless you ran into the street and snatched an infant, you haven’t “stolen” a baby. I know that because I chose to place my biological daughter with her adoptive mama. I did it because I trusted her adoptive mother to love her,  provide for her, and make her own mistakes. Even though her mistakes will be different than mine, I will never regret my choice because I know that little baby R is loved, wanted, and adored by the both of us.

If your adoption is open, maybe you are having a hard time balancing your relationship with your child’s birth parents. Don’t beat yourself up for that. You’re only human, and so are they. Ups and downs are natural. Remember that your child is your own. You kiss your kids goodnight, you catch them when they fall, and you are the one that’s there every day to love and nurture them. A relationship with their birth mom(s) doesn’t change that.

Don’t you let anyone tell you that you are any less of a woman or mother because you adopted. Do you remember how hard it was to adopt? All the home studies, money, and seemingly endless waiting for a baby you already loved, even though you hadn’t met him or her yet. You wanted to be a mother so much that you jumped through all the hoops, met all the requirements, and likely shed many tears in order to make it happen. That is just as much work, and just as admirable, as physically carrying a child.

Someone trusted you to be a mother. Whether it be the birth parents, an agency, or the courts, someone thought that you would make a great mom. And you do. A wonderful, messy, happy, flawed, totally adequate mom.