This week is Infertility Awareness Week and I’m participating with Adoption Magazine’s blog hop on this often difficult topic by sharing some of my personal story.
People often assume that you are unable to have biological children when you adopt. Countless times, after learning that my oldest daughter was adopted, others would lower their voice, pat me on the back and say, “So, you couldn’t have children of your own, huh? So sorry.” This is normally the time when one of my younger biological children would go whirling by yelling something to their older sister, and the whole situation comes unhinged for the bystander who has not yet recovered from feeling sorry for me. And while, yes, because of a medical condition I had a more difficult time carrying pregnancies to term, the assumption that this is why my husband and I chose to adopt is misconceived.
Our decision to adopt was made before my husband and I were married. We had one of those strange nebulous pre-marital counseling sessions (before we quit because they were so, so weird – the sessions, not the people – well, okay, both) in which you strangely and vaguely talk about having children. I didn’t want children at that point, so we ethereally agreed that yes, in the future, kids sounded great. Most significantly though, we agreed that adoption would be part of our family planning.
Years later, after struggling to become and then stay pregnant, but no doctor actually using the ‘Infertile’ stamp, my husband and I decided that we would begin first with adoption. It was during this time that I met with a friend whose doctor had used that word, the only word that strikes fear and hopelessness and desperation into the hearts of women who do want to have children. That word brings on a ‘to the death’ wrestling match with hope. Upon finding out that I was filling out paperwork to adopt she looked at me with dismay. Tears began to run down her face. I knew those tears, but not her heart. “I only want one of my own.” She said. And thus it began – my earliest of defenses; me fighting for my daughter in that ethereal world of babies yet to come, defending adoption as a viable way to grow a family. Calling forth the idea of love being transcendent, kind and complex. Adoption is not a cure for infertility, or a broken heart, but families are created in all sorts of ways, and they belong to one another in a bond that runs deep. Little did I know that during this conversation my baby girl was just born, waiting for me in foster care to bring her home.
Only two months would pass before I held her in my arms in a bright conference room at the top of a New York City skyscraper. My first memory of her was watching her quizzical face transform into a giant smile. Yes, adoption was first for us. Yes, it was a choice to move beyond doctors visits, bloodwork, and wondering just how broken my body was. And yes, she is very much one of my own.