My Journey to Motherhood  

A Mother father and baby child on a white bed.

Investing in Your Mind, Body & Soul IX

Women’s Health & Wellness Retreat / Aqaba (2-5 November, 2023)

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By Sara Mahdawi,

Clinical Psychologist

My journey to motherhood doesn’t align with Jordan’s cultural norms, but it sure does align with my expectations as to how I wanted to start my motherhood. At first, our plan sounded bizarre to our family and friends, but they soon became curious about the wonderful journey that led us to adopting our baby girl.

Loving an adopted child

My husband and I are frequently asked if the love parents have for a biological child is the same as the love they have for an adopted one. This is by far the most frequently asked question by our friends and family alike. As a clinical psychologist and an adoptive parent, my answer to this is always YES. Adoption is such a wonderful journey and worth every ounce of love, energy, money, and time.


Regardless of how a child comes into a family, be it through birth or through adoption, a tight psychological bond is formed between a child and its parents.

However, there are differences in the way this bond is created. The bond between a mother and her biological child is usually  formed during pregnancy; a mother is able to connect with her baby through physical contact, movement. A  baby also connects in the same manner in addition to when hearing her voice when the foetus is in the womb. This bond is further strengthened after the baby is born and mama is able to interact with her baby and respond to its needs from the moment of birth.

In contrast, the bond between a mother and her adopted child is usually formed through her  ability to nurture the child, meet its needs and provide unconditional love, regardless of when and how the child entered the family. Every time you tend to your child  when  sick or upset, every time you wipe the tears and bandage the skinned knees, or put her  to bed each night, every time you sing songs and read books, you love that child more than you ever thought possible. She will love you just the same, too.

The love hormone

As a matter of fact, the hormone oxytocin – known as the “love hormone”- is produced by both adoptive and biological mothers when they interact with their children. Oxytocin is released through general physical contact as well as breastfeeding, among other physical and emotional bonding experiences and helps to form the connection between mother and child.

For biological mothers, the production of oxytocin begins before the baby is even born, as the baby develops in the womb, which helps her bond with their unborn child. During childbirth, oxytocin is released in large amounts and this also aids the bonding process.

For adoptive mothers, oxytocin production begins the moment she  meets her child. Even without the biological connection, the act of holding, cuddling  and even just looking at her child can trigger the release of oxytocin. This helps adoptive mothers bond with their children and scientific studies have shown that levels of oxytocin among adoptive mothers are similar to those of biological mothers.

When the oxytocin starts flooding through her brain, the hormone helps to foster that crucial attachment between mother and child, whether biologically related or not.

Is parenting an adopted child harder than parenting a biological child?

Both maternity and adoption can be joyful, yet challenging journeys lie ahead that require both patience and commitment. It’s important to be prepared for the highs and lows that come with either route. Those considering either option should seek support from others who have gone through similar experiences, whether through family, friends, or support groups.

Is adoption a rewarding experience?

Psychologist agree that it can be a positive experience for both the adoptive family and the child. There is also a great deal of research demonstrating that adopted children can have secure familial attachments and reach social and emotional development at the required age, in a healthy manner. Adoption is also a rewarding experience for the prospective parents; they can create a new family and provide a loving home for a child in need.

Based on my experience, adoption is an incredibly gratifying and life-changing experience for us as a couple, our  family and daughter. The journey to adoption can be long, with many challenges along the way, but the outcome is worth every second of it. Every family that goes through the adoption process is unique, but the love and joy that come with it are indescribable. Adoption is a beautiful way to start or add to a family and builds bonds that last a lifetime.

Is adoption allowed in Jordan?

Most people are stunned to know that adoption is legal in Jordan; the Jordanian Ministry of Development refers to it as Kafala or Ehtedan meaning “fostering and embracing”. However, the process is quite complex and can take several years to complete. This is because the Jordanian government requires prospective adoptive parents to meet strict eligibility requirements and to follow a series of steps in order to be approved.