Monday, September 16, 2013

Embracing Adoption

I know it has been forever since I wrote here…but in the last week or so a few people have asked about my adoption blog, so I figured since I had told them, yes I have a blog, then perhaps I should write in it.

It has been a busy few weeks and months.  Jacob started preschool and loves it.  Unfortunately for me, on the first day of school, his new friends shared a lovely cold with him, and he being the generous and kind boy that he is, he promptly shared it with me.  And lately whenever I get colds, they really hang on and worsen until I get some antibiotics to kick them out.  But, now I have some antibiotics and am feeling a little better.

Life is going well.  Jacob is busy as ever, silly as always, and lots of fun to be with.  I liked last week when he took me by the hand and said, “Mommy come, sit here... now tickle me.”  And so I did, and we laughed and had a good time.  I love laughing with my boy. 

Aside from giving a little update about us  (since I put a lot of pictures on our facebook page that show what we are up to on a day to day basis) I thought I would share something I wrote awhile back.  (I used to have a blog—but stopped shortly after we adopted Jacob) about findng joy in life… Infertility can be quite difficult and after our second unsuccessful in-vitro attempt I was struggling to find joy in the daily moments of my life.  My husband and I were moving towards the path of adoption, and I wanted and knew that my heart needed to heal.  My faith was fragile, my outlook jaded, and I was tired of feeling that way, so I tried to focus on the good and joyful things going on.  Anyhow, in that process, some people seemed to like what I wrote and I was once asked how I “came to terms with adoption”.  The following is of what I replied, with some minor additions or grammar corrections.

I came to love and embrace adoption, but it was a process over time. 

At some point early on in our infertility (after a few unsuccessful treatments) and realizing that having a baby was not going to be as easy as we had hoped.  Around this same time I happened to walk past the store "Motherhood Maternity" while at the mall.  At that point I had a mini 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. Would I ever go shopping for pants with stretchy waistbands or oversized shirts? Not that that was the best part about having a baby, but it was part of the process and I wanted to be able to do that.  I wanted to get pregnant and have a baby.  Was that too much to ask?    

I had always been open to adoption and loved hearing adoption stories, and as time went on with the infertility treatments not working out I began to realize that adoption might really be something we would 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 will include a post about UU in case you are wondering what that is).  I learned that if I were blessed to become pregnant, bedrest, risk of miscarriage, preterm labor, and likely c-section were also things to be aware of.  I had to give up the idea I had that I would have a normal and natural pregnancy and delivery, let alone carry a baby to term.  Trying to have twins via in-vitro, IVF was also 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 the reproductive process.  

I realized there was more than one way to have children.  One way involved maternity clothes, morning sickness, hormone fluctuations, food cravings, ultrasound pictures, hearing the heartbeat and feeling the baby move and grow,, pregnancy announcements, registering for baby shower items, etc.  

The other way, adoption, would require any length of waiting period—maybe less than 9 months, maybe longer.  It would require us to be ok with giving up a lot of control—in that I mean—we would need to be ok with waiting or someone to think we would be good parents and then place their child with us and allow social workers to come in our home and also give us their stamp of approval.    We had to embrace and look forward to a different way of announcing to friends and family our hopes of adopting and also when we were “matched” or chosen by birthparents.  We experienced the excitement of seeing our child for the 1st time too, it wasn’t via ultrasound, but after he was born—and it was amazing and unforgetteable.  With adoption we experienced an intense amount of stress and joy in short spans of time and were able to build relationships with people we wouldn’t have had we not adopted.    

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 nobody thinks I can be a good mom and I am never given the chance to adopt a child?”, 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 really put pressure on me to think about whether or not I was up to the task of being a good mother.  Perhaps because I knew others (social workers, birthparents) would be thinking and asking the same thing.  I think these questions and feelings were normal and were important to recognize.  It was important to acknowledge the loss that it was---to set aside the dream of becoming pregnant and carrying your biological child.  I always recognized it as a unique and beautiful thing that I hoped to experience, so while it was a little sad and difficult to set that dream aside, it was something that happened gradually as I embraced and looked forward to a new dream—adoption.  I knew adopting a child was just as beautiful and unique and I was so excited to experience it and become a parent in that way.  I knew the child we would adopt would bring so much joy and happiness to us, and I could hardly wait.

I also like having an open adoption.  I really enjoyed getting to know my son's birth parents.  I liked learning about their personalities, traits, and physical characteristics.  My son gets his good looks from his birthparents, as well as other great characteristics.   I will be able to tell him about them and the great people they are. 

I think time and just the realization that if I wanted to have children—then was the way in which it could 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 not possible.  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 hope society and people will realize that too.  I am so grateful to have adopted our son, it was been a great experience and amazing blessing in our lives.

To get to this place of embracing the adoption, there were other things that helped.  Writing in my journal helped me organize my thoughts and feelings. Reading the 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.  Reading other good of fun books helped me take my mind of things.   Prayer and patience was vital.   Exercising helped.  Loving friends and family helped me through difficult days.  Focusing and thinking about others needs helped me forget my own.  
Finding the funny things about infertility helped—I cannot tell you how many laughs Rob and I shared in doctor’s offices.  

Having a photo shoot before an in-vitro treatment.  
Sporting the blue hat and hospital gown as best I can.
I definitely don't miss that outfit.

The night or two before we left town to see our son in the hospital after his birth, I had to go to the mall.  I had trouble finding the item I was looking for and ended up walking to the side of the mall I rarely go to.  As I did so I saw a certain store-- you guessed it--Motherhood Maternity.   When I saw it, I realized I hadn't passed that store since that sad day years ago.  This time as I saw it, I just laughed.  It seemed a lifetime ago that I had sat there feeling sad and hopeless, because all I felt at that moment was joy and excitement that in a day or two I would be holding little Jacob in my arms.  That was such a great feeling. 


Reading this 2+ yrs later brings back all those memories, and new ones with it.  Remembering those special first days we had Jacob with us in our home were some of the happiest I have ever had in my life.  We felt so much joy and love —it was just amazing.  I will never forget what a special time that was for me and for our family.