This I Believe

Janine - Babylon, New York
Entered on June 8, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: parenthood

This I Believe Essay

I call it pink fall. The season in 2000 when two little girls – one carried in my womb and one in my heart fell into my life and challenged the very core of my mothering instincts.

I prepared for the arrival of my adopted daughter Sophia for months, but was not prepared for my reaction upon seeing her for the very first time. Instead of love at first sight, which occurred so naturally with my biological children, and especially with my then 10 week old infant, there was no connection. Sophia was just a gangly 18 pound 18 month old who traveled 2,000 miles from Guatemala in the arms of an escort. She was a stranger literally dumped into my arms, and I was called to love her as my child.

Five years later, I can’t say that I have that intensely deep connection with her that I so desperately yearn for, but I can say that she is my child and I love her in a much different way. Still, I will always regret that lack of intensity and my mothering of Sophia will always be a bit guarded, a bit restrained.

I’ve been told perhaps I try too hard to love her and that I am too hard on myself. Therapists reassured me that some mothers even feel disconnected from their biological children, but bond with them over time. But I can’t get past thinking that maybe I wasn’t the right mother for this sweet little girl, maybe a home without other children would afford her all the attention she needs.

But then, I see her interact with her younger sister Sarah and their bond goes way beyond biology. Their love is genuine. How I wish my love could be so uninhibited.

I have always prided myself on the warmth and protectiveness I bring to mothering. Anything less is contrary to the very core of my being. Anything less for Sophia is unacceptable.

So I struggle with this contradiction each day. Meanwhile, Sophia loves me just the same and accepts what I do and don’t do for her unconditionally. Little by little she creates her own history and place within the family, and within my heart.

And maybe this business of mothering – no matter how a child enters your life – has a lot less to do with intensity and more to do with spontaneity – not measuring love on an emotion meter, but embracing it as it unfolds moment by moment – child by child.