We adopted our first child five years ago. In those five years, I’ve come to realize that the love I have for my children has both nothing to do with where they came from and everything to do with where they came from, at the same time. I love who they are, fully, and that means loving the person they came from. We have open adoptions with both my son’s and my daughter’s birth families, and it makes my children feel even more cherished knowing personally the people who gave them life. I’m able to see how much my kids’ birth mothers love them and how much they wanted them. I feel so lucky that I can hear firsthand about the time my kids spent in their birth mother’s womb.

I’m still surprised when I tell people about our adoption and I see the bewilderment in their eyes. They think what we’re doing is strange. They can’t figure out how we make it all work in our open adoptions. I often hear the same questions from people, and I’ve worked throughout the past five years to find answers I feel really comfortable with. One common theme is that people don’t understand the love my kids’ birth parents have for them, and they certainly don’t understand how desperately wanted these children have always been.

For the purpose of this article, let’s call the pregnancy my kids’ birth mothers experienced with them an “adoption pregnancy.” Here are the top three adoption pregnancy myths I hear most often:

Moms who experience an adoption pregnancy don’t bond with their babies.

Try as she might, it’s difficult for any pregnant woman not to bond with the child who’s growing inside her. Many mothers who consider adoption admit they try throughout their pregnancy not to become attached to the child they’re carrying. But each hiccup, each flip, and each kick to the ribs is a reminder that a child is there, counting on that mother for nourishment and sacrifice. Even mothers considering adoption find themselves bound to that child long before birth.

Moms who experience an adoption pregnancy don’t love their babies.

A mother’s love is a hard thing to break, so even if a woman is considering adoption for her baby, her love is still true and fierce. Again, many mothers considering adoption may try to guard their hearts, but adoption means a mother breaks her own heart to provide more for her child. The very basis of adoption is love.

Moms who experience an adoption pregnancy don’t take care of themselves because they won’t be raising the child.

Regardless of whether a child will be raised by a biological mother or an adoptive mother, I have met very few birth mothers who didn’t do their very best to care for their child during pregnancy. From prenatal vitamins to healthy foods to regular checkups, a mother loves and makes continual sacrifices for her child, regardless of what plans she is making. Of all the birth mothers I’ve become friends with, I’ve met very few who didn’t prioritize the health of their child over all else. After all, if they’re willing to go through the heartbreak of adoption, they clearly love the child and care for his or her well-being. That care begins with staying healthy so their child can live the best life possible.

Just because a mother chooses adoption for her baby doesn’t mean she isn’t madly in love with her child. A bond, love, and concern for that child’s future are all reasons an adoption plan is made in the first place. It makes sense, then, that an adoption pregnancy would be the foundation of everything that’s to come between a birth mother and her child: a forever bond, love that cannot be denied, and a future where both have the best chance to succeed.