Being a parent is exhausting – every moment of every day revolves around raising kind, healthy children – and it is a marathon that is never truly over. Constantly putting the needs of a child above everything else can take its toll, but even when parents think that they couldn’t possibly give anymore, they have that incredible ability to just keep going. No matter what.
So, when a woman was told by a complete stranger on Facebook that she “wasn’t a real parent” because she hadn’t physically given birth to her child, she decided to write out a detailed response that has everyone cheering.
My response to her:
I did not give birth to my child. I did not get to feel him growing within me, or hold him against my skin when he was born. Perhaps by your definition, my child is not a part of me – he does not resemble me or my wife.
Let me tell you what being a parent is to me.
I didn’t labor for hours for this child, I labored for YEARS. I waited for years to be told that we had been chosen, that we were finally going to be allowed to be parents.
I didn’t feel labor pains. I felt the incredible pain of emptiness in my heart and home as my wife and I yearned to begin our family through adoption.
I didn’t get to wake up in the middle of the night and nurse my sweet child. I did, though, spend many nights lying awake and praying to whomever might be listening to let us be next. Asking myself why we hadn’t been chosen yet. Poring over adoption profiles and sending endless e-mail inquiries on children available for adoption and being told no, no, no over and over again. And like you said, “you can’t possibly understand that feeling.” I feel certain you have absolutely no idea.
A child lives to depend on me – you’re right. My child has been let down by everyone else in his life. You think I am not losing sleep? He may not wake me up to feed him every couple hours, but he screams out in his sleep – no doubt reliving past traumas from the life he led before being adopted.
Not every experience is your experience. Not every mother is a mother because she gave birth. Not every child is yours or a “part of you” because you grew it inside of you.
My child will always be a part of me, because we’re fighting for this life together.
Her life as a parent isn’t the same as a lot of mothers, but it isn’t much different in the end. Being a mother isn’t found in the physical act of birth. Being a mother comes from kissing thousands of cut fingers and drawing hundreds of bubble baths and being woken up countless times at night to chase away the monsters under the bed. It doesn’t have to come from a genetic link, and she hopes that people will stop shaming other moms just because their lives look a little bit different.
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