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All of My Adoption Fears

When I first learned of the health condition that would eventually rob me of my fertility, the words “just adopt” were thrown at me like rice at a wedding. They were words I eventually came to loathe, as they represented the oversimplification of a painful and complicated problem. I knew there was no “just” to adopting.

People spend tens of thousands of dollars trying to adopt and years on waiting lists hoping to expand their families in this way. It wasn’t a simple solution, nor did I believe it to be the answer for everyone.

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But even more than that, I knew that adoption was not going to be the salve to the emotional wounds caused by my infertility. My entire life, I had yearned to be a mother. And when I imagined that journey, it started with conception. I had fantasized about being pregnant, knowing and connecting with my baby from that first moment of life. It was part of the picture for me. Those who brushed the loss of that aside by telling me to “just adopt” were diminishing the very real grief I was in the midst of experiencing.

And so I felt myself bristling at the idea of adoption entirely, because I so hated having it thrust upon me as though it were some magical solution I had not yet thought of.

If I am being honest, however, there was more to it than just that. There were also substantial fears on my end surrounding the idea of adoption. While I had never put much stock into genetics, I did wonder if I could love a child who did not come from me in the same way I knew I would love a child I had carried for the nine months prior to birth. After all, there is a bond that is solidified during pregnancy, isn’t there?

What if I couldn’t form that same bond with an adopted child? What if we had nothing at all in common as she grew older? Or what if I found myself simply not liking the person she became, and I could never shut down the voice in my head that said, “Well, my child would never have acted that way.”

From the second I laid eyes on my daughter, all those other fears of mine were washed away.

I was not proud of my fears, but they were very real.

It was years after the final nail in the coffin of my fertility before my heart began to change toward adoption. It took healing on my part, and truly accepting that I would never carry a child, before I could begin to explore this other path to parenthood. I had to get there in my own time. But once that shift inside me started to occur, I felt my heart opening to this possibility in a way I had never expected. And as soon as the decision was made on my end, things happened much more quickly than I had ever believed they would—with my daughter literally landing in my lap just months after I had decided to adopt.

In the week before her birth, all those old fears of mine resurfaced, along with a new one I hadn’t quite anticipated—what if I didn’t think she was cute when she was born?

Let’s face it: Newborns are squirrely. And while we all love baby cuddles, I think most of us can admit that they are rarely ever “cute” in those first few months. They are wrinkly and fragile, their heads are often misshapen from labor and it isn’t uncommon for them to be splotchy or red. In a lot of ways, they resemble tiny little naked mole rats, except without the teeth.

Of course, the moment my daughter was in my arms, I fell in love. I was sure she was the most beautiful child I had ever seen. It turns out that whether your baby comes from you or not, your heart knows. And the love you are supposed to feel, at least for me, was instantaneous. That love overrode all else.

From the second I laid eyes on my daughter, all those other fears of mine washed away. And in the year since her birth, they have never again resurfaced. This is my little girl, and I cannot imagine how we could possibly be more connected than we are. I also often find myself joking about how I could never have made a child as beautiful as she is. Her perfect complexion and gorgeous dark hair never would have come from me, with my pasty skin and light features. She is better for the pieces of her that did not come from me, which isn’t something I ever before would have thought I would feel.

Everything I had feared leading up to her adoption turned out to be so inconsequential in the end.

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I still would never tell someone struggling with infertility that they should “just adopt.” But if I could go back in time and talk to that former version of myself—the one so broken-hearted over the loss of her own fertility—I might tell her to take a deep breath and let go of some of those fears she was carrying.

Because now, living in this reality, I don’t ever look at my little girl and think of her as my adopted daughter. I just think of her as mine. And I can’t imagine loving her any more than I do.

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