Adoption is love. But what is love? Depending on who you ask, there are many different definitions of love. It is both a noun and a verb. As a noun, it means to have an intense feeling of affection or to have great pleasure in something. As a verb, love means to like or enjoy very much or to feel a deep affection toward someone. The kind of love I am talking about is one of action. It is expressed by a birth mother who so deeply cares for her child that she lovingly places her child into the arms of strangers. Love is expressed by an adoptive parent who willingly opens his or her loving arms to a child without a home so that they can feel loved and have a sense of belonging. As an adoptee, adoption is an act of unconditional love.
Unconditional Love and Adoption
Unconditional love is a term that is often misunderstood. In the dictionary, you will find the definition to be that unconditional love is love without conditions. Simply put, to love unconditionally means to love someone without asking for anything in return. It’s a love with no strings attached. So, how does unconditional love tie to adoption? The answer is simple: adoption is unconditional love. In adoption, unconditional love comes from both the adoptive parents and the birth parents. Birth parents show unconditional love to their child by choosing to place the child into another home so that the child can grow up in a potentially better environment that benefits the child. Adoptive parents show unconditional love to the adoptee by accepting them as they are and loving them like they would their biological children. They choose to adopt because they want to bring a child into their home so that the child can feel loved and have a sense of belonging. Adoption is about love.
My Story of Love
Growing up, I knew that I was adopted, but I did not feel any different. I was loved and I felt a sense of belonging. No one ever told me that my birth mother and father did not love me or did not want me. Their choice to place me for adoption was their act of love. They loved me so much that they wanted the best for me. They cared about me and wanted to see that I grew up healthy and happy. I was born on December 8, 1994, and left the hospital with my birth family. Ten days later, I was placed in foster care. Why? I was very sick and considered a failure. At the time, my birth parents did not know how to care for me. I wasn’t eating and I was having trouble keeping my formula down. My birth parents rushed me to the hospital to get me some help. On Sunday afternoon, December 18, the Schurke family was sitting down to have Sunday lunch when they received a call from the Division of Family Services. Marty answered the call. The social worker told Marty that they had a ten-day-old baby girl at the hospital needing a home and wondered if the Schurkes wanted to care for her. Immediately, Marty said yes, so Jim and Marty rushed to the hospital to pick up their baby girl. Jim and Marty knew this baby girl had several medical problems, but they opened their hearts and home anyway to care for her. Marty was a registered nurse and knew that she could take care of this baby. By accepting this baby into their hearts and home, the Schurkes were expressing their love for a child that was not their own. Today, I am 26 years old and have graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Studies. I am studying to become a special education teacher and plan to go into the mission field.
“A child doesn’t have to be biologically yours for you to love them like your own.” This quote is by an unknown author, but I think it truly describes the Schurkes. Though they have two biological children and have adopted one, they still wish to spread that love to children who need it. The Schurkes are still opening up their hearts and home to children in need of people to love them. Over the years, they have taken care of 43 children who needed a loving home. They accept the children as they are knowing that many of these children are medically fragile or have suffered from abuse. The Schurkes desire to see that every child has a loving home. If you want to see unconditional love in action, you should just observe the Schurkes. I believe that they are very special people and meant to be my parents. I am proud to call them that.
Loving My Adoptive Parents Versus My Biological Parents
Is it hard to love my adoptive parents or even my biological parents? No, it is not hard at all. Some adoptees may have resentful feelings toward their biological parents and have to work harder to love their adoptive parents; but, for me, that is not the case. I have lived with my adoptive parents since I was ten days old and since that day they have shown me love and care. Growing up, I always knew I was adopted, but I was not treated differently. Jim and Marty loved me the same as their biological children, maybe even a little more. This made it easy for me to love them back because I knew they cared about me. Even though I knew I was adopted, I did not despise my biological parents for placing me for adoption. Jim and Marty always explained that I was placed for adoption because my biological parents could not take care of me. It was a simple explanation, but it gave me an understanding. I love my biological parents because they gave birth to me and if they had not chosen to place me for adoption, I would not be here today telling you my story.
Loving an Adoptee
To love a child of adoption is to love another human being. An adoptee is no different from a child who is biologically yours. An adoptee is simply a person who has had unique experiences that may be different from yours. For children and teenagers who were adopted later on in life, it is going to be hard for you to make them understand that you truly do love them. If they have been in foster care, they may feel that they have no sense of belonging and that no one loves them. Be intentional in spending time with the child. Find ways to bond with them. Spend time with them doing things that they enjoy doing whether that be playing board games, reading books together, or even just watching their favorite movie with them. As I mentioned in my story, I was treated as a member of the family. Treat your child as part of the family. Do not treat them differently. They are another member of your family and they just happen to have been adopted.
Another way you can show love to an adoptee is by being willing to listen. An adoptee may experience many complicated emotions. Show them you care by allowing them to express their feelings to you. Just spend time listening to them. Do not criticize them or judge them. You can talk to them later about what they are feeling, but let them express their feelings to you first. To an adoptee, adoption is just another part of their identity. Be open about it. Explain to them why they were adopted if you can. Try to remain positive even though you may have negative feelings about the circumstances of the placement. These are just some ways you can show love to the child of adoption in your life. You will discover that showing love to the adoptee is not as difficult as it may seem. Love is a part of you. It is inherent in all of us.
Showing Love to a Birth Parent
Placing your biological child for adoption is a life-changing decision. It can be a very difficult decision for any parent. For a birth parent who has made that decision, you can be a source of support. Whether you are just a friend, family member, coworker, or even the adoptive parent, you can show love to a birth parent. Showing love to a birth parent is equally important as showing love to a child who was adopted. It is not easy to place a child for adoption. The birth parent will experience a range of emotions throughout the entire process from deciding to leave the hospital without a baby. Be a shoulder to cry on. Spend time with the birth mother and allow her to express her feelings to you. Don’t judge or criticize. Just take the time to listen. Help her find a support group of birth mothers who have placed their children for adoption. If you are the adoptive parent, it can be very hard to show love to the birth mother. You may have negative feelings toward her. Put those negative feelings aside and just be a support to her. If you chose an open adoption plan, communicate with her. Include her in special events like the child’s birthday or a school play. Make sure she knows that you love her child and that you also love her. Encourage a positive relationship with the child when appropriate. If it is a closed adoption, check with the adoption agency about sending photos of the child as the child grows. Do what you can to show love to a birth parent.
Showing Love to an Adoptive Parent
Choosing to bring a child into your home that is not biologically yours is a big decision. Many parents who have chosen to adopt have done so because they have struggled with infertility or may have had a miscarriage, but there are many more reasons why people choose to adopt. Whatever the reason, they have made a big decision for their family. As a friend, family member, coworker, or even a birth parent, it is so important that you find ways to support them through this process. Offer to help them with childcare. Whether it is for a date night or while they run errands, offering to watch their child can be a huge help for adoptive parents. Within the first few weeks after the adoption, set up a meal train to help the family with meals as they adjust to life with a new child. Adoption is not always going to be easy. The parents may have times when they are struggling. Be the person they can come talk to and to whom they can express their feelings. Offer to help them find a support group. If you are a birth mother seeking to show love to the family that adopted your child, communicate with the family and don’t be fearful of expressing your love for them. If you chose an open adoption plan, be sure to stay in contact with them. Write them a letter of gratitude if you have those feelings. Seek help through counseling and therapy in navigating negative feelings you may experience post-placement. Be there to support and encourage them as they raise that child. They need love and encouragement, too.
I hope that after you read this, you will find ways to show unconditional love, whether that be through the adoption of a child or by being a support person to someone involved in the adoption process.Considering adoption? Let us help you on your journey to creating your forever family. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98. Are you considering placing a child for adoption? Do you want more choices with your adoption plan? Do you want to regain more control in your life? Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98. We can help you put together an adoption plan that best meets your needs.