People say that they love their adopted children as much as they do their biological children. That the connection between a mother and baby isn’t inherently genetic, but that it’s something that develops between two people: a woman who yearns to nurture and hold and bond, and a child that needs love and affection and care. They talk about how parents who have both biological and adopted children never think about which child came from where. Genetics don’t matter. They love them both. And love makes a family.
I don’t believe them.
I don’t believe them because it can’t possibly be true. There’s a biogenetic impulse that makes us instinctively drawn to people that look like us. All examples of social bonding and interpersonal relationships have us searching for mirror images of ourselves. Granted this phenomenon has been at the core of every grotesque chapter of human history, and I agree that it’s our social and cultural responsibility to challenge our propensity toward homogeneity, but that only serves to prove my point: everywhere from playgrounds to conference rooms to cemetery plots, we seek extensions of ourselves. We look for ourselves in our friends, we look for ourselves in our spouses, and we look for ourselves in our babies.
So when I say that I don’t believe people who deny a difference between biological and adopted children, it’s only because I know they’re lying.
But I don’t hold it against them. Of course they’re going to say that. They have to say that. Any sentence that begins with “Let me tell you about my favorite daughter” will end with someone calling Child Protective Services because you aren’t allowed to say that. Think about it, and be honest with yourself: have you ever loved any two things the same? No. You haven’t. Because it’s impossible. Because two different things will, by definition, have differences, and those differences mean they’re different and therefore not the same, and therefore you can’t love them the same. And in the case of biological versus adopted children, 10 times out of 10 the child you look at with the deepest, most profound love in your eyes is the one who’s looking back at you with the eyes he got from you.
So I don’t want any part of the charade. I know that to adopt a child is to raise another woman’s kid, and I’m not interested in raising another woman’s kid. Pretending that it’s mine. Changing diapers and feeding it and helping it with its homework when I know the reality is that that kid comes from someone else. It would be no more mine that it would be the nanny’s, and I don’t want to be the nanny, especially not to a child of a woman who doesn’t even want that kid herself.
I wouldn’t even be a mom. I’d be a “mom.” Someone whose parentage would require legal documentation and whose role in the falsely-contstructed “family” could be challenged in a court of law. I’d fail a DNA maternity test. But then of course I wouldn’t take a DNA maternity test because I’d never assert that I was the mother, because I wouldn’t be the mother. I’d be the “mother.”
Mother-ly. Mother-ish. Now, I happen to think that I’d be quite an adequate mother-ish figure. The next best thing to for child whose real mother didn’t want it. And perhaps the child would be a passable substitute for the real child that I wished I could have.
But I’d know the truth. The real truth. The reality that – if I did adopt and then was lucky enough to magically get pregnant on my own – when faced with the decision to choose between those two kids, that I wouldn’t hesitate: given Sophie’s choice, I would save my real child and send the other one to the gas chamber.
Judge me if you want. Post comments below about how I’m a horrible, soulless person. I don’t mind because I know that I’m voicing truth. And any person grieving the loss of having a genetic connection with a child – any woman facing adoption as the only means of acquiring kids – has asked herself: What am I going to miss out on that real mothers take for granted every day? Could I forgive this kid for being the distant-second-choice to the child I really wanted? Would I ever really love it?
So I’m not going to do it. Adoption isn’t an option for me. I’ll grieve and I’ll cry and I’ll continue to feel despair about my infertility, but purchasing another woman’s child isn’t my solution. And when people around me try to console my grief with “Why don’t you just adopt?,” I would tell them the truth:
Because when that child’s pre-pubescent voice inevitably shouts, “You’re not my real mom,” my response will most definitely be, “Well, I never wanted you either, Kid.”