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