One of the main fears hopeful adoptive parents have when considering open adoption is that the child might not love them as much as the birth parents. It is a very normal thought to have. If you are worried about this, it’s okay. I invite you to spend some time exploring this concern. Ask yourself these questions, and then reassess the situation.
First off, from where is this thought coming? If you are honest with yourself, it is probably coming from a place of insecurity. It often stems from feelings related to infertility or not being a ‘real’ parent. Insecurity is a very normal part of the adoption process, but it’s something you need to learn to manage because regardless of whether the adoption is open or not, those feelings won’t go away. You will never be biologically related to your child. They will always be adopted, whether the birth parents are present or not. Coming to terms with this fact will reduce your anxiety exponentially.
You are real, and you matter. A parent provides safety and shelter for their child. They give so much of their time and resources to their children to raise them to be the best they can be. They love, and they worry. None of these things have anything to do with biology. You will be a good parent to your child, and they will love you.
Do you love any of your children more than the others? Of course not. So why would your child love any of their parents more than the others? It is not a competition—if you can love more than one child, they can love more than one set of parents.
Love isn’t something that can be measured; you can’t have 10.5 ounces of love for someone, and 12 for someone else. There are no limits on the capacity of the heart to love. You cannot ‘share’ someone’s love 50/50. One person can love any number of people with all of his heart. Trying to weigh the love of another on a scale, comparing it, trying to make it equal or ‘win’ will only hurt everyone.
There are many different ways to love. I love my mother and my sister the same, but in very different ways. I love my mom because she takes care of me and is always there to offer her wisdom and support. I love my sister because she is my best friend, she keeps my secrets, and we always have each others’ back. Both of these relationships have made me who I am, and I wouldn’t trade either of them for the world. It doesn’t have to be any different for birth and adoptive parents. The love is not more or less; it’s just different.
The final and most difficult question to answer is about how fair your fears are to your child. Children do not exist to give love and validation to adults. It’s not about getting love from a child; it’s about giving it to them. Your child does not belong to you, or to the biological parents—you both belong to the child. This innocent little person deserves to be loved by many and to give love back freely, in whatever way he chooses.
Your fear is valid and normal, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessary. Don’t let your fear of being loved less drive you away from choosing an open adoption. Children deserve to know where they came from, and how much they are loved on all sides. Adoptees are their own person and will process their stories in different ways. I believe that your child will love both of you differently. Love is not a competition. There are no ties, winners, or losers. There is enough for everyone.
Annaleece Merrill is a birth mother to the cutest little girl on earth. She loves being an advocate for open adoption by writing, mentoring, and speaking at adoption panels. She attends Utah State University in Logan, Utah.