Updated: Feb 27
It can be funny at times the number of people who will ask you to justify the decisions that you make in your life. People love to ask why; I think generally we are all "why" people to some degree. We want to know what makes people tick, how they come to their decisions and need reason for everything in our world. However, when it comes to asking about a persons choices with how to make or build their family; this why becomes way more complicated and emotional.
While most of these questions do come without any sort of judgement, the recipient almost always feels judged. Why don't you try to have your own kids? Why don't/didn't you try IVF? Did you consider surrogacy? Why don't you just relax, take a vacation? What about acupuncture? All of these questions come with complex answers that would require lived experience to truly understand. The road to adoption is oftentimes paved with intense grief and pain.
When the question of "why adoption?" came up in the home study process, I thought the answer was easy. In our eyes, family has never been limited to sharing the same blood or DNA. We've defined family as those people in your life that unconditionally love you and support you. We have friends that we hold just as dearly as our family members. So it always felt natural that we would be able to love any child that enters our home. This response still rings true in every sense, but the why certainly goes much deeper than that.
Adoption has lived in the back of my mind since I was a teenager. It may have been some sort of self-preservation tactic since I was diagnosed with gynecological cancer and endometriosis at age 15. All the doctors assured me that this would not impact my fertility and that I shouldn't be concerned. Obviously, I only partially believed what they were saying at the time.
Fast forward to meeting and marrying Colin (you can read all about our story here).
I have written and rewritten this paragraph several times now, because I can't figure out a way to say,"we started trying to grow our family" without sounding 'oogie'. So let's fast forward through that first part. We tried for one and a half years, naturally. People like to say, well at least it's fun trying, am I right? These people have obviously never experienced the infertility struggle and how that impacts every single aspect of your life and relationship.
Next, we did all the tests. I mean, all of them. There were no specific problems to be found. I ended up having an elective procedure to manage and treat my endometriosis that we had expected flared up again. This was followed by seven months of medicated cycles - basal body temperature readings, trigger shots, progesterone, and chlomid. These medications also provided me with mood swings, migraines, pain/cramping, loneliness, trauma, and depression. Oh, I forgot to mention, this was all happening at the beginning of the pandemic. I had the initial surgery the weekend before the shut down in March of 2020.
We finally reached the fork in the road. Medicated cycles weren't successful. We could choose to move forward with more medical intervention - most likely IVF, including an additional surgery. We started to research and the sticker shock set in; along with the low success rates reported. This was followed up quickly by the physical/emotional cost of this route. I truly didn't think that my body and brain could handle the continued disappointment. Colin was so supportive through this time; knowing that this decision was mine to make since my body was the one in question. I truly hope that everyone experiencing the trauma of infertility has a strong and unwavering partner by their side. After much consideration, I was certain there would be nothing left of me to give to a child following IVF, should it even be successful.
Naturally, one would think, option two was adoption. However, there was a third option that I had never even considered and that was to choose to be childfree. Every cell in my body wanted to be a mother, but all roads had to be taken into consideration.
Adoption was something that we discussed all throughout our relationship; oftentimes in a playful sort of way. I would talk about adopting my students, whom I loved so deeply. We would see families out in the community and wonder if that might be what our family looks like one day. It seems like a no-brainer, right? Not so much. We did deep soul searching, copious research and consideration for what this type of life would look like; open adoptions, adoption triads, birth families, foster or private adoption, child preferences, financial cost, etc. We spent months just processing all of it; both together as a couple and individually as people. Ultimately, we both came to the decision that we could do this. We wanted to be parents and this was how we were going to do it. Once that decision had been made, it was foot on the gas and we haven't looked back.
The years that led us to this place were riddled with pain and loss but also a time of personal discovery/growth and learning about something we thought we knew, but really didn't. Our why is complicated, beautiful and ours alone.
My hope for those that are following our journey is that next time you find yourself in a conversation with a friend, family member or coworker about their decisions to start a family; you might consider the bigger picture. We oftentimes don't know what people are going through underneath the facade.
Lastly, my hope is that when a birthmother reads this, she will be able to see inside our souls a little bit and understand that we didn't come to this decision quickly or easily. Our decision to become parents through adoption came from deep within our hearts.
Patiently waiting, Christina