Adoption vs. Biological Children

I wrote this article while waiting to adopt Elena in the hopes that it would reach those who might be struggling with the decision of if adoption was right for them.   During our PRIDE course we heard many stories from people still working through their deep grief over their inability to conceive.

Since I wrote it, we have brought Elena home and feel the same way about her as we do Grace.

Physically, giving birth is rarely easy, but trying to adopt a child requires more patience, determination, strength of will and faith than giving birth ever could.

Over the last seventeen years I have given birth to four children; the first, natural; the second, induced; the third, a near-fatal emergency C-section; and the fourth a planned C-section. Whatever the circumstances, it did not take long for life to return to normal and for the whole nine-month experience to become a quickly-fading memory.

Our youngest daughter Grace we brought home from China just over a year ago.  As quickly as one forgets the woes of giving birth, the trials and tribulations of adopting are also forgotten, but as we prepare for our next and final adoption, I’m reminded of the struggles adoptive parents face.

Adopting requires one to complete a home study conducted by a provincially recognized Adoption Practitioner, and attend a course called P.R.I.D.E. (Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education)

In my mind I had equated PRIDE training to that of pre-natal classes and found the thought of spending three full days in a room full of first-time parents-in-waiting, taught by someone who probably wasn’t a parent but rather “an expert” and debating the “family bed” issue, or “how best to discipline children”, equivalent to nails down a chalkboard.  I was less than enthused.  However, my husband and I decided to turn it into a mini-holiday. We booked ourselves into a beautiful hotel and planned to spend the evenings soothing away the day’s annoyances with a good bottle of wine and some much needed alone time.

With our arrogance rightly squashed we discovered that PRIDE training was not at all what we envisioned, and we were not the resident experts.  The course covered the adoption process itself, best ways to attach to your child, the grieving process that each child goes through, child development, placement challenges, and many other parenting issues that are unique to adoption.  Rather than spending our evenings lamenting the hours lost that day, we enjoyed wonderful thought-provoking conversations not only about our family, but also how as police officers, we could use this information to better understand the challenges that some of the children we meet during the course of our duties, face daily.  It was humbling, enlightening and maybe even a little bit frightening. I was beginning to feel like a first time mum, after all.

The home study loomed next.  I worried about having my private life and my belief system examined by a stranger who professed to know best because he or she was a “social worker” with experience in the adoption world.  I fretted that our home wouldn’t measure up, or that our children would have an “out-of-the-mouths-of-babes moment”, or that we would be denied because I was still using hand-me-downs that were surely outlawed many years ago by the “safety Nazis”.  None of those fears came to fruition. Our Adoption Practitioner was a complete delight and we looked forward to her visits.  With her, however, came the mountain of documents required to proceed, at which point the process became an exercise in frustration.

There is a requirement for international adoption to prove that one of the parents is Canadian.  Photocopied birth certificates and other documents have to be notarized and sent off for authentication, which incredulously averages twenty-seven weeks to complete.   Add to that, police checks, vulnerable sector checks, financial checks, fingerprints, medicals, salary letters, and a myriad of other required documents and the task becomes more and more daunting.

It took almost a year to get ready for the actual adoption, and then the wait began for a match.  We were more fortunate than many. We sailed through the process, but make no mistake. Preparing for adoption is hard work and parents need to be very dedicated and very sure or they would throw their hands up and abandon the entire process.  But even more than the red tape involved, adoption brings with it a lot of concerns and unknowns.

Before adopting Grace, I worried that I wouldn’t love her as much as I did our other four. More than this, I worried that she would in some way sense it.  I asked my sister, an adoptive mum of 8 years, and she assured me there was no difference, but still my concern lingered.  Looking back, although I knew intellectually that I loved my biological children as soon as they were born, emotionally I wasn’t really on the hook yet.  Had my third child died of the sudden severe abruption, I would have grieved, of course,  but true bonding doesn’t happen immediately. It happens over time and continues to grow each and every day.  Having lost my eldest child in her teens, I know this to be true.

Admittedly, I never suffered the loss of a miscarriage, or years of failed IVF treatments, or had to come to terms with my own inability to conceive, but I know one thing that some people may wonder about. In the end, it doesn’t matter what brings one to adoption. I can say, unequivocally, that my husband and I love Grace as deeply and profoundly as we do our other children, and that she is also loved and accepted by all of them.

Now we can’t wait to bring home the next one, this time without the worries of first-time adoptive parents.

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6 Responses to Adoption vs. Biological Children

  1. Thanks for this blog :)

    Our son passed away 3 years ago. He was our only child. We have since tried many fertility treatments and are still doing so. Adoption is something we have considered and have attended one information centre. We are not sure we are “there” yet in the decision making. Your blog really helps as I’ve had many thoughts that you’ve talked about.

    I am very sorry for your loss.


    • I’m also terribly sorry for your loss as well. It’s just awful, isn’t it !!!!!!!!

      Certainly adoption is not an easy decision. If you’re afraid you can’t love a child born to someone else, I can promise you, the love you’ll feel is the same. Some people have said to me “oh, I could never adopt and raise someone else’s child”. To that I ask them if they have ever loved a pet. If the answer is yes, then unless they gave birth to an animal, they know how to love something not born to them.

      I wish you the best with whatever decision you make and I’m so glad to hear that you and your husband are well enough to even considering another child together. That’s FANTASTIC!

      I think you have to be able to tell yourself that no matter which child comes into your life, they are not a replacement for your son and not something to feel guilty about.

  2. It is awful. As you know it’s hard to put into words.

    We were really considering adoption seriously a few months ago and something inside of me stopped. I really want a biological child of our’s. But we won’t be able to have another one if we are lucky to get pregnant so adoption is for sure in our future. I’m just not sure I’m ready for it yet. We want to exercise all of our options. Add in the cost as well as the waiting. At the information session we went to they said domestic adoption of a new born doesn’t come along very much at all. Lots to weigh up. That’s why when I came across your blog it was so informative for us.

    I agree completely that another child will never be a replacement. I think in the very beginning we thought that another baby right away would take all the pain away. That was naive on our part. As time went on and we got some counselling a counsellor put it to us that made so much sense. He said that it’s not fair to put that kind of expectation and responsibility onto a baby/child. We should have a baby because we want to. Not put the pressure of taking our pain away. That really stayed with me and it put alot into perspective.


  3. hsakha5678 says:

    I am thinking about adopting a child too so i have a couple questions. In the adoption process, did you actually end up going to China and meeting her before adopting her? Also if you did, in the adoption process, does the said organization choose a child for you or can you actually talk to the children and see who you connect with the most?

    Thank you for your time

    • patriciahung says:

      I’m happy to hear that you are considering adoption. We did not go to China first, and the process (in Canada only because the U.S. is different), is that the parents are shown a file of the child and can say yes or no. My husband and I decided that whichever file was presented first, that was the child we were meant to have. We were also in the Special Needs stream which is pretty much all that’s available now. We could have gone the regular stream and been expedited (because James is of Chinese heritage) but decided that we would prefer the other. How lucky we have been! There are many Yahoo groups that you can join for more information – you only have to search “adoption” and many will come up. Best of luck to you!

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