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Adoption Blog: The Yin and the Yang

A Question of Love
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“Do you love her like your own?” People have asked this in one way or another. There was a time I wondered about it myself. As the mother of one daughter by birth (Kathryn) and another through adoption (Hanna), I guess I am in a distinct position to answer this question about loving an adopted child.

The answer is yes. And well, no.

The other evening, my two daughters and I are lying in Kathryn’s bed, giggling, telling stories. The girls drift off to sleep. I stay awake between them, their warm heads snuggled against my shoulders. Streetlight mingled with moonlight plays shadows on the ceiling, the grandfather clock chimes gently in the foyer downstairs. I think about this question of love.

There is a sense of ferocity in my love for my adopted daughter. A quality ingrained perhaps to overcome all Hanna has been through, maybe all we went through to be together. My love for my biological daughter exists a little more quietly, at a cellular level, pervasive and persistent like breath. Now it may be partly attributed to the differences in the children. As I think of this tonight with them sleeping beside me, this is a bit how they are—Kathryn steady and calm; Hanna a wave rising and falling, thundering to shore.

It may also be I am conscious of making sure Hanna knows my love, understands it, fills up her empty spaces with it. It’s as if I want to stash extra love away inside her for when she might need it later in life. Before Hanna goes to school some mornings, I hold her to me as she is getting into the car. “Let me give you a hug that will last you all day,” I’ll say. One of the first times I did this, I started to pull away and she grabbed me back. “I’m not done yet, Mommy,” she said, “I’m only up to lunch.” I realized she was going through her day in her mind, weaving my love into each part.

That hug describes our love. While Kathryn “came out of me,” Hanna has been slowly woven into me, and I into her. Our bond is no less strong, but it is different. This is hard to understand, even for me as I lie here between the two breaths of my children. I think of a mother I know whose adopted child died. Someone said to her “at least it wasn’t your own son,” as if that would make it easier. It wouldn’t. I do not mean this kind of different, not this kind of own.

This notion of “my own child” comes up more than I anticipated, and I grapple with how to explain it. Simply because Hanna has another mother and father somewhere in China, I cannot claim her solely as mine. But neither do I claim Kathryn. It’s a bit like how I think Native Americans were baffled when the white men wanted to buy their land. It wasn’t theirs to sell. And yet they cherished the land, were bonded to it in a way. This comes close to how I feel.

My daughters are a part of me, but they are not mine. Kahlil Gibran wrote in The Prophet: “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.”

No matter how my daughters came to me, there is no question of love. 

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Hi Stacy,

A very belated thanks for this great post. I mentioned in a blog post I wrote some time about about answering this question for prospective parents.  Having two biological and one adopted gave me one more nuance to the perspective.  My boys are older and were also able to weigh in.  It is a sensitive but vital discussion. I appreciate getting your artfully written view.


By Ellenore Angelidis on Sunday, April 17, 2011 at 8:11 pm.

Thank you for putting to words exactly how I feel. Beautiful writing.

By jdiedrich on Friday, September 30, 2011 at 4:42 pm.

You are so welcome.

By Stacy Clark on Sunday, October 02, 2011 at 2:59 pm.

Stacy, I am new to the circle,(haven’t adopted yet) and enjoyed reading your post. laura

By Law on Sunday, October 02, 2011 at 3:31 pm.

Welcome Laura.

By Stacy Clark on Sunday, October 02, 2011 at 6:20 pm.

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Stacy Clark

Stacy Clark


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