|Celebrating Catholic Motherhood|
Catholic Kids *
Adoptive Parenting Columnist Heidi Hess Saxton
“Are you the Mommy?” He was just two years old, and already he understood “Mommy” to be as much about function as biological fact.
I hesitated, then smiled. “Yes, Christopher. I'm the Mommy. Would you like to come and see where I live, and stay with us for a while?”
With a confidence that took my breath away, the little boy slipped his hand into mine and we set off toward the McDonald’s Playland. I was the Mommy who was going to play with him, at least for now.
That was five years ago. Since then my husband and I adopted Christopher and his little sister, Sarah. I love them fiercely, more than I thought it possible to love another human being. Frankly, I think I got the better end of the deal, since on most days they are infinitely easier to love than I am.
But do I love them “unconditionally”? Let’s take a closer look at that question. The other day in an adoption forum, the question came up, “Is it possible to love an adopted child unconditionally?”
Most people seeing this question would put a comparative spin on it (i.e., “Is it possible to love an adopted child as much as one that is biologically related?”).
However, since I’ve never given birth and can’t address that question with relevant first-hand experience, my first instinct is not to compare it to biological parenthood. I have spoken to many people who have both adopted and biological progeny, and believe the core parent-child bond feels the same no matter how a child enters your family. Some people believe this quite passionately. I find that inspiring.
I just don’t come at this question from the same direction. To me, the word “unconditionally” has a magnanimity that I’m not entirely sure I possess. I mean, couples pledge “unconditional love” on their wedding day ... and fifty percent of them wind up in divorce court. Parenthood would seem to require a higher standard, because there are higher stakes. And so, I promise my kids something that doesn’t sound quite so flowery, but fits the bill just as well, and perhaps even better. Not “unconditional” love, but “every day” love.
It’s a real-world choice, made in real-world time. God in His infinite perfection can truly pledge “unconditional” love. Me, there are days when I aspire to “adequate.”
I know my own limitations. The best I can do is one day at a time. God knows just how pitifully flawed and frail I am, how far from perfection I fall in my capacity to love. My children do not have the perfect mother ... but they do have a Heavenly Father who always fills the gap.
And so, they call me “Mommy.” I tickle them, and we fall in a heap of hugs and giggles. It’s not perfection, but it is real-life love.
Copyright 2007 Heidi Hess Saxton
2037 W. Bullard #247
Fresno, CA 93711
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