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My Adopted Son Will Always Be Our First Born

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"This is your first pregnancy?" Asks the ultrasound technician as she picks up the jelly and squirts a large dollop over my belly.

"Yes. First pregnancy but second child."

"And you want to find out the sex, right?"

"Definitely, but my husband and son are in the waiting room and I want them here too."

She leaves the room and I'm left with my thoughts as I wonder, looking at my belly: "Boy or girl, boy or girl? Who are you in there?"

The door opens, and in walks my husband and five-year-old son to the dimly lit room. My son, curious but unsure of this room stands closely between his dad and myself.

"What do you think you're having?" inquires the technician as she sets to work and peers at her computer screen.

"I really don't know, we have a boy so we want a girl, but I have four nephews and two more on the way, so realistically I think it is a boy," I say, still not having a valid reason for my gut instinct.

"She's a girl."

An exclamation of excitement exudes from my son, "Yes! I just knew it. Now we are like the Berenstain Bears!"

Overwhelmed with happiness and excitement and surprised by my son's comment, tears quickly come to my eyes, "Yes, sweetie, now we are the Berenstain Bears."

This happened months ago, as we excitedly learned our family of three was expanding to become a foursome. Now, we are just weeks away from meeting our baby girl and I've had some time to reflect on this pregnancy.

Years ago I had surgery for endometriosis and did not know if that would impact my ability to conceive. My husband and I always agreed, "If we aren't pregnant in six months we'll just begin the process of adoption."

You see, our son is adopted and we know that regardless of whether he is biological to us or not, love does not recognize a difference. So, my husband and I knew that regardless of whether our second child was biological or not, we would love them just as a fiercely and intensely.

Like any protective mother, when I think my son has the potential of being hurt, I advocate for him.

My son had been asking us for a sibling for almost two years and when he finally learned he was going to be a big brother, he did a classic five-year-old jump on the couch, roll over your head, legs in the air, happy dance. The years of frequently playing "big brother and little sister" were finally becoming his reality.

During this pregnancy I have felt overall, really good. I hiked until midway through my pregnancy, never had morning sickness or threw up, and most importantly, the baby has been healthy. I feel so fortunate and grateful.

In fact, the hardest thing about this pregnancy has been comments. My husband and I have been intentional in how we share the news about our growing family because we have heard it all:

"You are becoming a mother now."
"You are having your first child."
"Now you are finally having your own."
"It will be so cool to see a baby that looks like you."
"You're really having your first kid."

While my husband and I, as adults, know the well-meaning intentions behind these comments, my five-year-old does not. And most of these types of comments have been said in front of my son. Language is powerful and words can be incredibly hurtful as they can make people feel alienated or that they do not belong.

My son is part of the fabric of who we are, and we are part of his fabric; he is our "first-born" son even if he was not birthed by us.

Like any protective mother, when I think my son has the potential of being hurt, I advocate for him. However, my desire to advocate extends beyond protecting my son. Many women who have heard my story and shared theirs, have identified with my struggles. As a counsellor, I have also heard stories of children who were adopted and made to feel that they did not belong. That breaks my heart.

In the United States alone over two million children have become part of families through adoption. Becoming a mom through adoption was beautiful and difficult, as I imagine labour and delivery will also be beautiful and difficult at the same time. Different, but one not of less value than the other.

My first son is adopted and that is nothing to hide. It is part of his story, of how we became a family, and I want to honour his life story. My son may not have my eye-colour or my husband's complexion, but he is "coming from us" as his worldview, interests, mannerisms, and brain development are being shaped by us.

My son is part of the fabric of who we are, and we are part of his fabric; he is our "first-born" son even if he was not birthed by us.

And after three wonderful years being a family of three we are now, according to my five-year-old, becoming the Berenstain Bears.

Please remember, when you a meet a family growing through adoption and biology, or if you meet our precious baby girl and my son's new sibling, words are very powerful and can be unintentionally very hurtful, especially to young minds. Both our children, one still in the womb and the other excitedly awaiting her arrival, are our children and both precious gifts.

The multiple forces that weave our family together into an intricate unique and whole fabric are not premised on bloodlines.

As my son recently told me while we were playing "Brother Bear and Sister Bear," he was to be called "Little Bear" (Brother Bear's name before Sister Bear arrived) until his sister arrived. Only after, he would get to be called "Brother Bear."

And indeed, he will soon be "Brother Bear."

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