A few weeks ago I received a question from a reader. The question is listed below. I have thought about it a bit and I will do my best to answer this well thought out and sincere question. I will try to illustrate how I came to embrace adoption through a story. If anyone else has some advice or insight, feel free to share it. I must also say that I like the nickname "Mrs. Joy"; that made me smile and brought me joy.
Hi Mrs. Joy :)I have been following your sweet story, and feel blessed to have a glimpse in to your life. My husband feels like he is being prompted to adopt, so we are heading that way, but I am still struggling with the thought of not being pregnant, and actually giving birth to my baby. You said you had come to terms w/ it, was there something that helped you move past that feeling? I would really appreciate any advise, you are certianly a great example! Thanks!!! ~Haley
To rephrase and summarize the question, it was: How did I come to terms with not being pregnant and actually giving birth to my child?
I think it was a process over time. I don't know that it was any one thing.
At some point early on in our infertility and realizing that having a baby was not going to be as easy as we had hoped I happened to walk past the store "Motherhood Maternity" while in the mall. At the point I had a breakdown. I sat down on a bench and felt sorry for myself. I don't know if I outright cried, but I wanted too. I was angry and felt justified in my anger at my body, God, and those that easily become pregnant and just waltz into a store to buy maternity clothes. All I wanted was to wear maternity clothes. I wanted to get pregnant and have a baby. Was that too much to ask?
I had always been open to adoption and as time went on with the infertility treatments not working out I began to realize that adoption might really be something we might be involved in. As time went on I realized this focus of "wearing maternity clothes" was a bit myopic. Time and the sheer fact that infertility treatment after infertility treatment failed led us to seriously consider adoption. When I found out I had a unicornuate uterus I learned that bedrest, preterm labor and c-section were likely in my future due to this diagnosis. I had to give up the idea I had that I would have a natural unmedicated delivery, let alone carry a baby to term. Trying to have twins via IVF was out of the question. For me, these small bits of information helped me begin the process of accepting the fact that I would have to give up what little control I thought I had in this reproductive process.
I realized there was more than one way to have children. One would require maternity clothes, morning sickness, hormone fluctuations, ultrasounds to hear the heartbeat and learn the gender of the baby, registering for baby shower items, etc. The other would require any length of waiting period, allowing someone else complete control over choosing us as parents, scrutiny from social workers, travel to any part of the US to meet birthparents and our child, a completely different way of announcing to friends and family of being matched, and of meeting our child for the first time, an intense amount of stress and joy in short spans of time, building relationships with people you never dreamed of, etc.
So with time and this realization, it really wasn't that difficult for me to "come to terms" with adoption as a means of growing our family. Sometimes, yes, I would have a tinge of sadness if I thought, I wonder what my biological child would've looked like? Or if I was feeling anxious or unsure of myself I would think, "why do I think I can be a good mother? or, "what if the child I adopt doesn't like me"? It was one thing to take on the responsibility of bringing a biological child into the world, but to raise and parent an adoptive child made me really put pressure on me to think about whether or not I was up to the task of being a good mother. I think these questions and feelings are normal and important to recognize. It is important to acknowledge the loss that is is to lose the dream of becoming pregnant and carrying your child. I always recognized it as a unique and beautiful thing that I hoped to experience, so it while it was hard to set that dream aside, once I realized I had replaced it with another one just as beautiful and unique I was more than okay with adoption. I was excited about the possibilities and joy the child we would adopt would bring into our family.
I think having an open adoption was also nice in the fact that I know who my child will look like. I really enjoyed getting to know my son's birth parents. I know their personalities, traits, and physical characteristics. My son gets his amazing good looks from his birthparents. I will be able to tell him that and tell him what they look like and other things about them. That gives me peace and hope that my son will be able to "come to terms" with any "loss" he might feel with adoption.
I think time and just the realization that if I wanted children, and I did, that this was the way it could happen, and probably the only way it would happen. I read stories and articles about adoption and I saw it as something miraculous and amazing. I realized that not many people have the opportunity to adopt a child, and that I was lucky to be able to have this unique experience. And unique and amazing it has been.
I think serious consideration of adoption is just a natural progression that occurs if having a child biologically is just not feasible. It doesn't mean the child I adopt is loved any less, or that I am sorry we turned to adoption to grow our family. I truly hope my child will know that. I also hope society and people will realize that too. I am so grateful to have adopted our child, it has been a great experience.
The night or two before we left to go see our child in the hospital and finalize the adoption I had to go to the mall. I went to the side I never go to, and saw a certain store, you guessed it, Motherhood Maternity. I hadn't seen the store since that time years ago, and as my mind reflected back on how devastated I was at the time, this time all I could do was laugh. As far as I was concerned, I would never enter that store, and that was perfectly fine with me. I had other things to do, I had to hurry and find the item I was looking for and then hurry home to finish everything else I was occupied with for the adoption. That was a great feeling.
To get to this place here are some other things that helped:
Blogging and writing in my journal helped me organize my thoughts and feelings. Reading scriptures and uplifting talks by church leaders helped me feel at peace with my infertility and not be upset with my body's inability to become pregnant. Praying about what direction to take helped. Exercising helped. Good friends and family helped. Humor and laughing about infertility helped. Focusing on others and trying to help them helped.
My advice to you is to be patient with yourself. Let yourself take the time you need to be okay with not being pregnant and having a biological child so you can give yourself fully to the adoption process and your child that you adopt.
I hope my story and thoughts have helped you.