reflections on being adopted

There is only one greater love than the love of a mother and that is the love of two mothers.

I used to get angry at people who’d say, unawares of who was in the room, something along the lines of adopting is fine, a noble act, if you will, but there’s nothing like conceiving your own child… It’s just not the same.

I would keep my anger for myself, of course. Better keep them in their ignorance of the fact that an adopted kid was present. I would at best manage not to blush, and I would remain silent, tongue tied in the face of shame, of feeling less than.

I shall credit maturity and experience for being able, now, to respond to such comments with a little more equanimity and ease. Though my response is still a mute one, I no longer feel that singular rage that brought color and warmth to my cheeks and turned my blood into lava. Truth is, they are right — adopting and bearing a child are not the same. Since I have neither adopted nor had children myself, I cannot be trusted in my speculations of how they differ. But, Love — of Love I can speak, and Love is what these pages are about.

Someone once said (an popularized) the phrase: “mother there’s only one.” I reckon this someone was not an adopted kid. A mother is that person who, through divine compassion and selfless care-giving, grants a child the sacred gift of life. There can be one, or more than one. I personally have two — one that gifted me with a mind and a body and a heart, so as to be able to live; and one who gave me everything else I have ever had, including the privilege to have a life.

Being aware that so much sacrifice has been done just so that my siblings and I can stand on our own two feet, and live comfortably, and be happy, brings at once feelings of gratefulness and guilt. Mainly, though, my reflections on being adopted float around this odd, almost humorous realization that neither I, nor my siblings, were “supposed” to be here. We were supposed to live an almost antithetical life — a life I cannot think of for long before my heart begins to break. Yet, something made of good fortune our faithful companion through the early years of our lives. Through each step, each dice-rolling and coin toss, we had the invincible force of Love on our sides. Like Ulysses through his various encounters with death, we got lucky time after time, until, having sailed through tumultuous waters and fought hostile battles, we reached home at last. Like Antaeus, we gathered from our mothers what now comprises the strongest source of power from within ourselves.

Being adopted sets the foundation for a life filled with questions, with confusion, even — but it also gives one permission, perhaps more so than non-adopted people, to believe that this life was given to us as not just a gift but as something beyond that. A challenge, almost, and permission to believe blindly that if we made it this far, we can reach the distance, however far. Inside us we have the strength of two mothers, a vast well of courage and compassion whence we can drink when our strength alone isn’t enough to carry us through the journey of life. The elixir of this well is the purest form of Love there exists. Motherly Love — the kind that allows new life into this world — literally through inception, and figuratively, by giving someone a chance in the world.

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