While openness in adoption is becoming all the more common, and that’s a good thing, it does come with its own challenges. In the case of adoptive mom Charlene, one of her greatest fears came true. When her son was old enough, he sought out his birth family and found them. Not only did he find them, he moved across the country to live with and get to know them. For a while, Charlene felt as though she had lost her son. HER son.

There is quote that gets passed around on adoption blogs that has always stuck with me:

“She is mine in a way that she will never be hers, yet she is hers in a way that she will never be mine, and so together, we are motherhood”

-Desha Wood

Before I adopted my daughter, I did not understand this concept of mutual motherhood. I only knew my pride and the idea that my daughter should love me as her mother. Like Charlene, I was once terrified at the idea of having to “share” my child. How could someone love two mothers? Would my child love her birth mother more? Want them more? Not love me any longer?

When I adopted my daughter, my perspective changed drastically. I now understood that my daughter would have two mothers – and that was okay. The fact that she had two women who loved her fiercely was the greatest kind of blessing. Her birth mom will never have the relationship I have with my daughter, and I will never have the connection with my daughter that she shares with her mom. And that is okay. That is motherhood.

If my daughter chooses to one day go live with her birth family, as Charlene experienced, I cannot lie: it will be hard. Not because I worry I will “lose” my daughter. She was never only mine. But I will miss her fiercely the way a mother misses her child. Not having your child close to you is as if your heart is off somewhere else. I will be overjoyed for her chance to bond, but still miss her as a mother would.

The update to Charlene’s story is that her son moved home. Charlene realized that her fears were generally unfounded. Charlene notes in the article: “I am now fully able to acknowledge that he is my son and he is his birth mother’s son.  He is going through life, like all of us, trying to figure it all out. I can honestly say I’ve felt more these past 18 months than I have in a lifetime . . . ”

Families are fantastic and growing and no two families look the same. When we let down our guard and set down our pride, only then will our children get to experience the full depth of love and relationship they so deserve.