Too many times Varun and I have been asked, “Oh, are you going to have your own kids too?” Or some variation of this question.
To be fair, I get it. Not every family has read books and blogs and forums about adoption. Not everyone has thought through the nuances of words like “birth Mom”, “biological kids” or “your own”. So in one sense, that’s why I’m writing. So we can think about and change our vocabulary to words with more grace-filled implications.
But on a deeper level, I believe that all of us have some idea of what we mean when we refer to some kids as “(y)our own”. That in some small way, we want to delineate. And that is what compelled me to write this post.
What does it mean for our child to be “our own”? It means that they belong to the Rana family. It means that we promise to love and protect and nurture them. It means that they are our responsibility, and our joy. It means we will sign their permission slips, walk them down the aisle, co-sign their first bank account and fight for them.
By persisting in differentiating between adopted and biological children, by delineating between which ones are “our own”, we are subtly sending the message that children who join our family via adoption are less our children.
On every level, this is not the case.
Legally, once the adoption is complete, every adoptive family is just as much family as any other family. The parents have the same legal rights and status, the children have the same legal rights and status. Not very lovey-dovey, but true.
Financially and physically, all of our children are our responsibility. We have the privilege to feed, care for and protect every child who becomes a part of our family.
Emotionally, we will commit to love and support every child who joins our family. Whether they enter our arms wrapped in a fuzzy blanket in a hospital room or donning second hand clothes in an orphanage waiting room, they will be ours. To love and to cherish for life. We are from that moment the kissers of boo-boo’s, confidantes in times of trouble and, if we do our job right, the givers of roots and wings.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly for our family, our children belong to us in a spiritual way. We believe that God has adopted us into His family, and that we are His own. As such, we have prayed for years for the hearts and futures of whatever children God gives us. We intend to pray with and for them, to teach them the truths we hold dear and to commit their ways to God. We want to hold their tiny hands and walk along the path God has laid for our family.
I realize that welcoming children into a family via adoption is very different than having children biologically. It is not the same for the parents, nor for the children. I want to talk about and learn together about these differences. However, let’s not confuse the way the child entered a family with their identity in that family. Both adoption and biology bring children, but it’s love that makes them family.
What does it mean to have children of our own? I picture dimples and giggles, tantrums and sticky fingers. I imagine helping with homework and laboring together over hobbies. I envision chats about dreams and waiting up for a return from a first date. I dream of proudly waving goodbye to our young adult, over-joyed at their confidence and ready to support them should they stumble. I desire a mature friendship with our adult children, smiling and reminiscing as history marches on in their lives.
Our own. It means that our children will call us Mom and Papa. It means they will snuggle with us during bedtime stories. It means we will hold them in their brokenness, and rejoice with them in their triumphs. It means they will trust us, and fight with us. It means that we will love them and pray for them and forgive them, even when they’re raging and in turmoil.
So, you ask me, are we planning on having our own? Absolutely. Will they have chai-coloured skin and have a frizzy Amelia-and-Varun-hair? I have no idea. But I do know that all of our children will be cherished with a fierce and deep love. And they will all be our own.