Adoptive mother: “You know how it is”

My husband and I were talking to a waitress the other day in an airport who noticed we had a young toddler with us. We were making small talk when she mentioned to my husband and I that she was pregnant and due with a boy in just a few weeks. She mentioned that she was so tired, due to her pregnancy, and made a comment directed at me, “Well, you know how it is.” I didn’t reply to her comment but rather nodded politely as if I completely understood. Two years ago, before adopting our son, that small, innocent comment would have sent me reeling and I likely would have ended up in the fetal position on my bed crying my eyes out because no, I really don’t “know how that is” being deemed infertile after trying unsuccessfully for years to get pregnant. But miraculously the comment this time didn’t even phase me. In fact, I remember thinking at the time how much things have changed and how funny it is that that things aren’t always as they appear in life.

When I first brought our son home after adopting him from birth, I would tell everyone around me that he was adopted. It just seemed dishonest of me to let people assume incorrectly that the baby came from my genes after they had made a comment about him such as how cute he was. I was way too honest of a person to let the innocent comments like that pass. However, as time goes on I find myself letting more and more of those innocent comments go. It’s not that I’m trying to hide the fact that he is adopted or that I don’t think about their comments every time I hear them – because I do – believe me I do. It’s just easier now to nod my head and agree with people’s comments and leave it at that.

A couple years ago, I remembering hearing that adopting a child does not take away the pain of not being able to have your own biological child but it does however lessen the pain. I was very glad I heard that statement before adopting my son because I found it to be very true. Adoption does however allow you to be a parent anyway despite being infertile.

Since adopting my son, I have had tinges of pain brought on by innocent comments from people, however, I find these days that the pain passes much faster and doesn’t hurt as deeply. It only takes looking at my healthy, beautiful, adopted son to help put things in perspective.  Having a biological child is not everything, and I truly believe that raising an adopted child can be every bit as rewarding as raising your own biological child.

Looking at the woman in the airport made me wonder about her situation. I had no idea what kind of home life her unborn child was about to be born into. Possibly it was a good situation but I suspected it may not have been an ideal situation or she may not have been working an early shift as a waitress in a Texas airport at that stage in her pregnancy. Either way, it proves the point that you don’t always know how it is for another person. What appears one way on the outside is not always what you think it is.

Birthmother: Chance

By Birthmother – It’s not often that you have a clear opportunity to do something GOOD.  By GOOD I mean life-affirming, joy-inducing, compassionate, and challenging. When I got pregnant for the first time, unexpectedly, I realized that I had been given such an opportunity.

I wasn’t ready to be a parent.  I had NEVER wanted to be anyone’s parent.  And certainly no one wants to become a parent when they aren’t financially ready to take care of another person.  My husband felt the same way.  So we could have been overwhelmed by the obligation that had just landed in front of us.  Instead, we recognized how many men and women were waiting out there, filled with hope that they could bring life into the world.  We recognized that our baby could be meant for one of these hopeful couples.  What seemed like a fluke occurrence could be a match made in heaven.

A friend of mine once told me his feelings about choosing to be a parent.  He said that becoming a parent is a bold statement of your true feelings about life.  When you have a child, he said, you are telling the world that you LOVE life, you love life enough to share it with another human being.  You have enough hope or optimism to willingly bring an innocent new person into this uncertain world.

I can’t say that I’ve ever felt so strongly positive about life.  Perhaps that’s one of the reasons I’ve never wanted to be a parent!  But once a life is growing inside you, you may find that your feelings about life are changed, or that they grow more strongly in one direction or the other.  I remember sitting in bed on the day the doctor confirmed I was pregnant, taking in the reality of it.  I was 25 years old and newly married.  I had JUST finished college with a Master’s degree.  I had not planned to be pregnant.  In fact, I had taken birth control pills every single morning since the age of 18.  Pregnancy was the furthest thing from my mind.  By the time I found out I was pregnant I was already MANY weeks along.  I hadn’t behaved like a pregnant woman in those weeks.  The winter Holidays had just finished, complete with drinking and smoking.  But the doctor had done an ultrasound right away –  he confirmed the baby was healthy, with a strong heartbeat.

So as I sat there in bed, the STRENGTH of the life inside me impressed me more than I can explain.  How could this tiny bunch of cells be so tenacious as to survive the first trimester of life without any help from me?  “Wait,” I thought, “This bunch of cells IS receiving help from me!  I may not be expending conscious effort, but my proteins and my fluids are sustaining this life. My body has been growing this baby!”

I suddenly felt how much effort my body was expending without my knowledge.  A great process of life had started into motion without me knowing.

And you know what they say: A body in motion tends to stay in motion.  If I had closed my eyes and pretended that I wasn’t pregnant, if I had gone on with life as though nothing had happened, the process would have remained in motion anyway.   Once those little cells come together and start multiplying, BAM!  The pattern had begun and hose cells were going to KEEP multiplying unless something stopped them.   My body was in the midst of a natural state of development, following it’s own basic design for sustaining an embryo.  Life is programmed, genetically, to persist.  Sometimes our life systems malfunction, sometimes fatally, but the overall pattern is to SURVIVE.  When the system is working properly it takes incredible force and difficulty to stop it.

And so I chose not to stand in the way of what my body was doing.  I chose to let those cells grow.  I chose to let my baby find the hopeful, compassionate couple who would could give it all the love it would ever need.  My situation wasn’t perfect, but I refused to believe that nothing good could come out of it.

I definitely had fears about what would happen next.  Would the biological father support me through the adoption process?  What would our parents say?  What would our friends and family say?  What if the pregnancy was hard, or if the delivery was painful?  What if the child hated me for giving it up?

All I can say is this: Life isn’t perfect.  And no matter what you do, your child’s life will not be perfect.  The reality is that you will be questioned and judged no matter what decision you make about a pregnancy.  Someone will always be there to doubt you or tell you you did the wrong thing.  And you will face difficulty and trials no matter which way you turn.

But does that mean you should give up?  Does that mean life isn’t worth sharing?  I’m not going to answer that question for you.  But I can assure you of this: There will be people there to support you no matter what you choose, there WILL be people who understand what you’ve gone through.  For each reason you find to doubt yourself, you can find an equally good reason to appreciate the choice you make.  Once the clouds clear the sun will shine in and you will see the beauty of life again.