Last week marked the 30th anniversary of our adoption of our oldest child. Being an adoptive parent – and especially the parent of children who don’t look like me – means that I have fielded many questions over the years.

One of the most common questions is, “Do you love your adopted children the same as your birth child?” It takes people awhile to gain the courage to voice such a raw concern, but it is a valid one for anyone considering an adoption journey.

For years, I answered that question positively. It may not have happened within the first hours or days, but before the first week was out I was absolutely, over the moon in love with each of my babies. Adoption was never second-best to me; it was just a different way of bringing our babies home.

But lately I’ve been re-visiting that question. If I were to be asked today if the love I have for my adopted children is different from the love I have for my birth child, I would answer “yes”, and here’s why:

For my adopted children, their birth mothers had to purposely choose life for them under very difficult circumstances. And they didn’t just choose once. Every single day of their pregnancies they made the choice to allow their babies to live. Every. Single. Day.

But that wasn’t the only choice they had to make. The other one was to relinquish them to be raised by strangers. Thoroughly vetted and selected by them, but strangers nonetheless. The depth of love and sacrifice involved can never be overstated. So for our babies to actually be brought to birth, and then entrusted to us, came at a high and holy price.

I thought of those things when I held my babies close to my heart, when I calmed their middle-school angst, and when I comforted them after skinned knees and broken hearts. I thought of their birth parents and the weight of their trust. I thought of the odds that my babies would never have taken breath, or never have taken my breath away with that first little smile.

Yes, the love I have for them is different. There was a long road of grief and unimaginable sacrifice that led them into my embrace. They were loved long before I kissed their little faces. Knowing that adds a depth of gratitude to my love, reminding me through all the moments in this parenting journey that my children carry the heritage of an uncommon grace.

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