"There is no difference...."
This piece is a departure for me. It strays away from the safe space of song lyrics and inspiration, and wanders blindly into the somewhat foggy lair of my heart, the place where I often find myself when the lights are out, and sleep is evasive.
So, I was watching a film the other night. I'd never heard of it before...which didn't surprise me. I don't get to watch many movies these days. But, I needed to stay awake...right up until it was time to leave for a long drive to the airport for a pre-dawn flight...and a movie seemed like just the right thing.
Yet this movie wasn't entertaining for me. It was more like an emotional ambush. One I didn't see coming. The cast seemed perfect for a light-hearted romp through romance and family dynamics, but whoever cast this one was playing mind games with me.
Helen Hunt, Colin Firth, Bette Midler, Matthew Broderick...you see what I mean? Happy, funny, a bit wacky....nope. Not at all!!
For me, "Then She Found Me," was anything but light-hearted...it was deeply moving, and profoundly thought-provoking.
Especially the scene in which a newly-married, and eager to parent but not yet pregnant, Helen Hunt engages in an argument with her elderly adoptive mother about whether there is a difference between the way a mother loves her biological offspring, and the depth of love she feels for her adopted child. Hunt is convinced that she must bear a child biologically to feel "real" mother love, whereas her mother emphatically declares through hot tears, "there is no difference..."
It took me apart. I will not ruin the rest of the film for you, but suffice it to say, they had me with this scene, and never let go. Never...
So, what do I think? Without equivocation, I agree with elderly Jewish mother, "there is no difference." But do I really know this. No.
I wish I did. I wish that I could state, as categorically and without reservation, as she did, that "there is no difference..." (her character is also the mother of a biological son) But since I have never carried a child to term, I can only speak from what I feel so certain about in my heart. My love for my daughters...and, for that matter, my stepchildren...is no different than the love I would feel for a child that I'd given birth to.
If there are any differences in the way I love my daughters, I would say that it has to do with my confidence about my role in their lives. I believe that a birthmother knows, without a doubt, that she has been divinely appointed to be her child's mother. As an adoptive mother, I feel this, in every fiber of my being, on a deeply spiritual level, but I can't say that I don't worry, every day, that my children wonder, that, if by being adopted, some divine order has been abrogated.
For me, motherhood has nothing to do with biology. And I don't say this to demean my daughters' birthparents, or, for that matter, their step parents. I know, with all my being, that we love our daughters completely, absolutely and imperatively....nothing less. I do believe, however, that motherhood has everything to do with caring for a child...whether it starts at conception and continues for the rest of that child's experience...or, nine months, nine years, or nineteen years after his/her birth.
I can't imagine loving anyone or anything more than I love our children. If it's possible, I don't know if I could stand it. This love is already too dissembling and all-encompassing. It has dissolved everything I thought made me who I was. This is a good thing though...I needed to change. Self-absorbed, myopic, and critical behaviors couldn't exist in the atmosphere of love which motherhood requires, and calls forth, from the depth of our being.
But is it different? I so hope not. I pray with all my being that my children have not experienced anything "less," having grown up in an adoptive family. Because, more than anything else in the world, I want my children to know the best, the fullest, the most extraordinary love that life has to offer.
And perhaps, by encouraging and nurturing their relationships with all their mothers..and fathers, they have been able to experience just that.
I hope...I pray...