Adoption and the Nature of Love

At the tender age of nine months old, I was adopted by my White mother from Hunan Province, China.

The first question I usually get is, “Oh! Where were you adopted from?” The easy question. I met someone else who was adopted in my junior year of college, and regardless of the fact that we have different stories, but there are some concepts that we have in common; for example, we both know the feeling or not quite fitting in with one culture.

However, if there is one that I have learned from being adopted is that I have no idea what love looks or feels like. I don’t mean that in a psychopathic way, but in the sense that I can’t define it even with those I’m closest to. For instance, family is the first place where you learn what actions and words equate to the expression of love, making breakfast in the morning, doing laundry for everyone, emptying the dishwasher, saying “I love you” no matter how reluctantly. My family runs differently; in all of my 21 years, I have never said “I love you” to my sisters or my mom, the only time I remember hugging my mom was in the beginning of high school (sophomore year maybe?) before I left for four days with my sisters and a family friend to stay in the Mount Washington hotel in New Hampshire.

But, really, love is such an abstract concept that I wonder if it’s actually a feeling or a constancy of benevolent actions? Going back to an age old question, is it nature or nurture? I was abandoned by my parents as a baby so I only knew the detached care of the caregivers in my orphanage (not that I remember it), but doesn’t that then mean through the new connection with my mom, I learned to love her? Or maybe all human beings are equipped with the tools to create bonds where they were missing? If this is true, then I wouldn’t have written this article, right?

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