I read a blog post I really liked about the transformation a woman has when she gives birth and becomes a mother. The author said that the woman she had been effectively "died", and that she needed to discover who the new woman was. She also wrote about the intimate moments of bonding with her baby and the love you fall into, like "quicksand", that you fall deeper and deeper, even if you sometimes long for your pre-baby life.
The difference in the birth of my motherhood is that I didn't give birth. My introduction to motherhood wasn't hours of labor and the solid knowledge that the child in my arms was mine--flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone--but only the solid knowledge that these children weren't. And the solid knowledge that there was nothing solid about any of it. They didn't have to like me. They didn't have to connect with me. They didn't have to call me Mom or Mommy or anything the least bit maternal. They didn't have to accept me as their other mother. They didn't have to do anything at all.
But I did. I knew without question that I was supposed to be in their lives, and that while I didn't know exactly what I would be to them, I did know that I was the only physically-present "mother" they had. I also knew that I loved them. I wasn't really certain how to define that love, but it was strong. Since I never gave birth, I couldn't know if my love was truly maternal. I just knew I loved them.
While I can't possibly relate to the relationship between birth mother and birth child, I can definitely relate to loving my children. I can relate to that love deepening and changing over time. And I have come to believe that my love for them is maternal.
Because they are my children too, no matter how we came together.