This guest post is by Paige Knipfer, an adoptive mother.
Most adoptive moms cringe at the question “Who is the ‘real’ mom?” The reason: We are. We are the real mom.
I apologize if I sound defensive but I take it personally when someone insinuates that my main job title isn’t “real.”
Even though I didn’t carry my daughter inside me for 9 months or give birth, I am real.
I’m the one responsible for my child. Along with my husband, I’m the one who’s raising, feeding, disciplining, and teaching her.
I’m not a mirage. I’m not made of plastic, cardboard or wood. I’m a “real” mom because I loved my daughter before I even met her.
The love I feel for my child is immeasurable. As a mom, I have been overwhelmed, sleep-deprived, anxiety-ridden, exhausted, and truly happy.
I have changed diapers, given baths, gotten up in the middle of the night, put her to bed, read her stories, played with her, taken her on walks literally hundreds of times.
I have gotten up “just to check” on her way too many times to count.
I have sat on the phone with two on-call nurses and a doctor to make sure my daughter’s cough wasn’t something more.
I have spent countless hours talking to other moms and reading reviews about the best products to use and buy for my child.
I have spent weekends making her homemade baby food. Maybe I made all that homemade food out of guilt because I chose not to breastfeed.
Yes, as a mom, I feel guilt too. Just like other moms, I worry that I’m not doing enough for my child.
I worry about which daycare and school district will be the best for my daughter. I worry about each and every decision I’ve made and how that will impact her as she grows up.
Although I did not experience post-partum depression, some adoptive moms do. Sometimes we, as adoptive mothers, lose every semblance of what life was like before we had a child.
We too are adjusting to and coping with changes and getting to know our new child. We too are trying to figure this new parenting thing out.
I can tell you the sense of pride that I have in being a mother didn’t come easy. It’s hard to be an adoptive mom because you feel like you are taking credit for something you didn’t create.
When strangers approach me and say how adorable my daughter is or “what a great job we did,” I feel like an imposter. Like a lot of adoptive moms, I worry about being considered second best.
I worry about how our child will adjust to being adopted and if, and how, it will impact her life.
I have complicated emotions towards her birthparents because I owe them everything. And I also fear that our child will resent us.
The day we met our daughter for the first time was the happiest yet saddest one of my life. I was full of love but I was also full of pain for her birthmother.
It’s an incredibly conflicting and confusing emotion to feel. There are times when I don’t feel like a mother because I didn’t go through all of the things that most mothers experience.
I am and will always be appreciative of how I was able to become what I always wanted to be: a mother.
I didn’t give my daughter life, but I’m dedicating mine to her.
I think adoptive moms AND birthmothers are both ‘real’ moms because without the two of us my daughter wouldn’t be who she is today.
We are both a part of the story. To cut one mother out is missing the bigger picture.
To say that adoptive mothers or birthmothers are not “real” moms is denying the achievements and sacrifices that we both have made.
Paige Knipfer is a trainer for a financial institution, an adoptive mom, wife, mentor to a high school student, volunteer, and avid traveler (Semester at Sea alumni). She loves to share her adoption experiences and assist anyone interested in learning more about the process @.
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