While waiting for Maggie to join our family, someone asked, “Do you think you will love Maggie more than Elise?” I think they asked because Maggie is biological and Elise was adopted. That question has stuck with me. I remember I was initially taken aback, and emphatically assured the questioner that I would love them the same because they are both my daughters. And I do.
But sometimes it feels easier to love Maggie more, especially when I am on the receiving end of a rant or have been found lacking: Elise, “Mom, I wish she was my mom (pointing to random neighbor in middle of the street) because she’s better at blowing bubbles.” Logic did not work here about how I was given a defective bottle of bubbles. A full day later and after blowing bubbles for 20 minutes, Elise recanted and said I was the best mom. Whew, glad I got that fixed. (Maggie just doesn’t have enough words to offer her criticism of me – yet.)
So, as I have muddled over this question, I read the chapter on attachment in Curt Thompson’s book Anatomy of the Soul and found some relief:
“Each child is born into the world with a certain genetically predetermined temperament to which the parent reacts. This parental reaction then elicits the particular attachment pattern that the child tends to develop with each parent. That explains why no two siblings ever really grow up in the same home. For no two children have exactly the same temperament, so each elicits different emotional reactions from his or her parents…An attachment pattern, therefore, is relationship specific.”
I have five siblings, so this really resonated with me. My siblings and I are all different, and I have often said out loud, “Didn’t we grow up in the same home?” We did, but we all have had our own unique experiences because we each have our own relationships with our parents and with each other.
So I think I’ve been pondering a null question and confusing my love with our attachment or how we relate to each other. Will I love my children the same? Of course, I love both my children, but I do have different relationships with each of them. (Maybe I need to work on some of the emotional reactions our relationships elicit, but that’s a whole different post.) I relate differently to Maggie and Elise not because one entered my family through adoption and the other through birth, but because they are different people. And I understand now that that’s okay.
BTW, Curt Thompson (author of Anatomy of the Soul) will be the featured speaker at the 2012 Tapestry Adoption & Foster Care Conference on October 27, 2012. Be sure to mark your calendars now to join us for this free all-day conference at Irving Bible Church.