Adoption Doesn’t Mean We Failed at Conceiving
People assume a great many things. I’m guilty of doing it all the time. And I guess that’s why I feel the need to correct those who have assumed wrong. I know that what other people think of me isn’t any of my business. All that matters is that I’m happy and doing what I need to do to take care of myself. So, really, it shouldn’t matter if people assume that we’re adopting because we’re infertile. (I’m doing my own assuming in thinking that about 75% of those who don’t know the details think we’re adopting because we’re infertile.)
In any case, that’s not really the point. The point is what I’ve learned about myself, about my relationship with my husband, and about acceptance.
Yeah, I’ve had three miscarriages. It sucks. Big time. I’m still sad about them from time to time. (The first one caused a severe depression relapse.) I had a great therapist recently who helped me realize that it wasn’t the end of the world. She asked me to consider that pregnancy and birth aren’t the only ways to be a parent. I knew that, but before, I hadn’t really been ready to hear it, let alone accept it. (She actually had to tell me a few times before I heard it.)
I want to be clear that this wasn’t a glib attempt to be helpful (“Buck up! There are other options out there, champ.”); it was a very calculated therapeutic technique. I’d created the myth that this was the way things worked: You fall in love. You get married. You have babies.
Babies were the only thing missing from my Happily Ever After. I had a whole grand fairy tale constructed in my head about How Things Should Be. In my mind, after the miscarriages, I was failing. In my mind, I was being punished and therefore unfit and undeserving of motherhood. In my mind, adoption was only the contingency plan for How Things Should Be.
My therapist asked me to consider editing my fairy tale. What if there was more than one way to get to Happily Ever After? What if How Things Should Be didn’t have to be so rigid? What if could just accept that I was a strong, smart, and capable woman who had the power to make her own dreams come true?
I don’t think I have the words to explain what an impact this shift in thinking had on my life. It’s almost funny how simple things became after that. Taking the doomsday thinking (thanks, Depression!) out of the equation made things so much easier. If I wanted to be a mother, how could I make that happen? Pregnancy. Adoption. (Surrogacy is also a valid choice, but it wasn’t right for us.) So my husband and I set out to explore all our options, and we did it concurrently. And, oh boy, did it take the stress away for me! It wasn’t a “we’ll try this if the other one fails” situation; we were pursuing all avenues. We went from the fertility doctor* to foster(-to-adopt) parenting** classes and back again.
There are three things I want to make super clear (because I still have a need to correct/pre-empt assumptions):
- This shift in thinking, this work I did in therapy, wasn’t a magic cure-all for the pain, trauma, and grief I suffered as a result of the miscarriages. It’s all very real and very valid, and I still have some PTSD triggers that linger.
- Adoption was always something we’d talked about because our hearts go out to all the kids in the world who don’t have a home. Our grand plan included one child by birth and one by adoption (or two if the birth thing didn’t work out). In fact, that’s still our plan, if ya needed to know.
- Just because this post focuses on me and my experiences, doesn’t mean my husband isn’t involved or supportive. He was and is. We’re in this together. I just had a little more mental work to do.
I’m happy to report that, for us, fostering happened first. We are currently the foster-to-adopt parents of an adorable five-month-old baby girl. I’m living my Happily Ever After.
*For those who are nosy (I’m totally nosy): We’re not infertile. We have a few complications that are making it harder to carry a pregnancy to term. With a little medication, that shouldn’t be an issue.
**Did you know that it’s free or practically free to adopt through foster care? It’s challenging but rewarding!