Thursday, February 12, 2015

Real Parents Who Love

A few days ago, I saw a quote that went something like this:  students who are loved at home come to school to learn and students are aren't come to school to be loved.  I understand the sentiment behind it, that teachers love a lot of kids and impact their lives in mighty ways.  But I also cringed a bit because this quote perpetuates one of the biggest myths about parents and kids.  It assumes that struggling parents don't love their kids.  The reality is pretty much every parent loves their kids.  Even the ones who we might describe as those doing a really crummy job of parenting.   Most often, it's just that they really don't know how to parent and the things we see as the things a parent does to show love and care are just not things that parent has in their wheelhouse.

But in another way, this type of thinking, that only parents who can check of every item on the "successful parenting" checklist are loving parents, also doesn't sit well with me.  As an adoptive mom, I have heard many comments that insinuate that birth parents don't love their kids.   

"It's great that they are so much better off now."  

Or I've heard comments that places limitations on the love of a birth parent, where the attitude seems to be that the only good thing the birth parent did was to relinquish their child.  

"How fortunate that his mom realized she couldn't care for him."  

Here's the thing:  birth parents are real people, complex people who have flaws and failures just like everyone else.  They are also people who love and hurt and wish their children's stories might have ended up differently.  It is also not always a completely selfless choice so don't think I am wearing rose colored glasses and making birth parents into gods.  But it is also the one spot those on the outside looking in get stuck on, this idea of adoption being the most loving thing that birth parents do for their children.  

Maybe that is true.  And maybe it is not.  Maybe the most loving part of being a birth parent is not connected to just one singular event.  We don't define most parents by a singular event.  We do not attempt to ferret out what the most loving thing is that "regular" parents have done for their children.   The concept of parental love is not tied to a superlative form.  The love between the parent and child exists for the duration, despite the good and the bad.  

I guess I would hope we would see all parents as mere men who do the best they can to love their kids, whose love is not finite, whose love is not boxed into certain moments within their child's life.  

And just in case you need a little reminding, would you read this?  A friend asked me the other day a bit about Zeke's birth family.  Trying to explain Chinese adoptions, finding spots, and birth families is kind of a hard thing because there is a lot of secrecy and lies of omission that often cover up the truth behind a child's story.  It is illegal in China to place your child for adoption and it is also illegal to abandon your child.  Many children are "left" in public places to be found and taken to orphanages.  However, often this is not quite the whole truth.  Often, someone connected to these finding spots knows who the birth parents are.  Some provinces have also created baby drop boxes, where parents can bring their children and anonymously leave them.  It's similar to the set up we have for rescue animals, where there is a door/cubicle type space where the animal is left with no questions asked.  Someone photographed the birth parents at once such place.  I think it certainly humanizes birth families.

1 comment:

Amber said...

I've seen that quote about students, teachers, and love before but never put it into the perspective you shared. I fully agree with you- how you parent doesn't correlate to how much you love your child, and I defend every one of our kids birth parents when anyone makes comments like the ones you shared for just that reason.
Amber at