I've been able to check a lot off my bucket list: I’ve already lived abroad, gotten my degrees and written a book. We’ve lived in Alaska, have the most incredible daughter and maintain a strong group of friends who are more like family. But there's one thing I fear will never be ticked off the list, something that's been a dream of mine forever: growing our family through adoption. And it's all because of my husband.
As it turns out, my husband doesn’t want to adopt. Not from here, not from another country, not through private adoption or foster care. He simply isn’t interested.
It was something he humored in the beginning of our family-planning talks, especially after we lost our first baby. As he drove us back home from our vacation after the miscarriage, I methodically plotted out our one- to three-year timeline on adopting. I charted a course he had no real intention of going down and I know he let me dream these big dreams because he loved me.
When our rainbow baby was born, it proved to us that I was able to carry a pregnancy to term and talks of adoption ceased. Rightfully so—we had the best little girl in the world to focus on for now and talks of growing our family overwhelmed me in a big way postpartum.
But still, the desire lingered. The thought of this little girl growing up as an only child worried me, with the idea of getting pregnant again worrying me even more. Pregnancy anxiety nearly consumed me the whole time I was carrying my daughter.
Then, over dinner the other night, my husband laid out what should’ve been an innocent query at my feet: “So, when should we have another?”
I stopped in between bites of my leftovers and stared at him blankly. I knew what he was asking, but couldn’t conjure up an answer right away. Right as I was about to utter the word “adoption,” he told me almost sheepishly, “I know you really want to adopt, but I can’t say I feel the same way. I don’t think it would be fair to do something so big and expensive if we aren’t both on board.”
However, if I'm being truly honest, I’d done the research feeling deep inside that he would never be ready for it.
I gulped, my stomach sinking and my shoulders dropping in defeat. I told him that I needed to go nurse the baby and sulked away from the table, nearly pouting that the conversation was so open and shut to him. The truth of the matter, though? We’d been over this many times, with his comments each time being “I don’t really know” or “Can we talk about this later?”
I know his reservations are the same as many adoptive parents: concerns that he couldn’t love an adopted child the same way he loves our daughter, worries about finances and the often-mentioned behavioral issues that might accompany an adoption.
These were all things I’d already researched and prepared myself for before having our daughter, never knowing what to expect. I did this anticipating that I’d need it for adoption, too. However, if I'm being truly honest, I’d done the research feeling deep inside that he would never be ready for it.
I continued to push and try to discuss it, despite him not being in the same place as me emotionally. He's never just completely brushed me off, but has also never indicated nearly the same interest as me.
As disappointed as I am, I also know adding a member of the family via foster care or adoption is not something to approach half-heartedly, and I’d never want to be coerced into something I might resent later. I’m also not in the mental state to think about being pregnant again.
So, for now, we’re putting a pin in our plans to grow our family. While adoption is still very close to my heart, it will never fully be off the table for me. It just isn't even at the dinner table for him. And that's a disappointment I'll just have to live with.