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Celebrating the unique motherhood of adoption
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At its core, motherhood is about sacrifice. Whether its a mother of four, a teacher or a woman slogging through infertility, every type of mother makes daily sacrifices for the children she loves. - photo by Erin Stewart
Motherhood comes in all shapes and sizes. I hope every woman out there who has mothered in her own way or who aspires to be a mother is feeling loved.

At its core, motherhood is about sacrifice. Whether its a mother of four, a teacher or a woman slogging through infertility, every type of mother makes daily sacrifices for the children she loves.

This year, I have been immersed in the world of adoption as my husband and I try to grow our family. In the process, I have met so many amazing expectant mothers, birth mothers and adoptive mothers who have opened my eyes to the unique love of all different types of mothers.

In particular, Im beginning to understand the intense love that exists between adoptive parents and the mothers who choose adoption for their children. Open adoptions are becoming increasingly common as adoptive parents and birth parents continue to have a relationship after placement. While such relationships are certainly not perfect or easy, both sides of the adoption equation are coming together because of the love they have for their children.

A young, expectant mother recently chose my husband and me to adopt her unborn son. We were elated, and I instantly loved this young woman and this child. In the end, though, the grandparents of the baby decided to rear the baby. Although I thought I would be devastated, I was surprised that I was grateful that this baby will grow up in a family that loves him, wants him and can provide a good life for him. The love involved in the whole situation took away any bitterness I might otherwise have felt.

From that experience, and from my widening circle of friends in the adoption world, I have learned so much about the love that exists in adoption.

First, I have learned that birth mothers are thoughtful, selfless and courageous women. They have already chosen life for their unborn child, and now are choosing a home that can give him or her the best life possible.

But motherhood doesnt stop for these women after they give birth. They are still mothers and will be for life. Their bodies show the physical evidence, but their hearts are also scarred for better and worse. They are mothers, even though they are not rearing their children. The absence of that child in their lives is palpable and daily.

Likewise, adoptive mothers are mothers to their adopted children, even though they are not biologically linked. They love their children as their own, and often embrace the birth mother into their family, as well.

Adoptive mothers also have doubts and fears about their worthiness. They feel strongly the responsibility of being chosen by a birth mother.

Most importantly, Ive learned that the road to adoption is full of heartache and setbacks for both biological and adoptive parents, but it is also rich with love coming from every direction. The bottom line is adoptive mothers and birth mothers need each other in a very real and vulnerable way. Adoptive mothers have love and lives they want to share with a child, and birth mothers have dreams for their child they cant fulfill.

We come into each others lives for a reason and embark on this unique motherhood journey together, hand in hand.