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An Adoption Story: Part 1

Photograph by Getty Images

Infertility, for me, happened at lightning speed. One minute, I was young and healthy with my whole life ahead of me—reproductively fit enough to have been deemed a “perfect” egg donor. The next, I was incredibly sick, sitting in a doctor’s office after my second surgery in less than six months, being told that my options for motherhood were quickly diminishing.

I was only 26 years old at the time. Still young, still single and now mourning the once solid belief that I had so much time to make these decisions.

I had theoretically done everything right. I had traveled, gone to college, tried out a few careers, moved far away from home and found myself along the way. I had dated plenty, but never really with the intention of anything serious. I was too busy being young, enjoying these years I had assumed were mine to take my time with. Yet here I now was, being told that if I ever wanted to have children of my own, the disease ravaging my body had just made it a now-or-never choice.

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Being a single mother had never been the plan. I wanted it all. The love and marriage, followed by the baby carriage. But there wasn’t time. I had to either choose single motherhood, or face the very real possibility that I would never carry a child.

I chose to try, sure that trying would lead to pregnancy. Because no one goes down the path of invasive fertility treatments assuming that they will fail. Only, for me, they did. Two IVF cycles and $30,000 down the drain at the age of 27, and I still was not pregnant.

I never would be.

At the time, there was no comfort for me. There was nothing that I believed would ever fill this gaping hole I now felt in my heart. I had always wanted to be a mother. I had just also always been so sure that I still had time. Losing that dream while still young and single, when most of my friends were marrying off and entering motherhood themselves, damn near killed me.

I heard the placations a lot—words about how OK everything would be, or how a plan I could not see was in the works. “Why don’t you just adopt?” crossing the lips of enough people that the words started to make me cringe.

Just adopt?

Why didn’t they just adopt?

Why was that option somehow supposed to make this ache I was now feeling any better?

Shame on them for behaving as though my loss was minimal, even as they carted around their own pregnant bellies with ease.

My frustration over the advice that had no place in my grief eventually led to a complete repugnance on my part surrounding the option of adoption. I was so sick of having that option thrown at me as though it were a cure-all that I began to revolt against it. How dare anyone suggest adoption as though it could heal my heart? Shame on them for behaving as though my loss was minimal, even as they carted around their own pregnant bellies with ease.

It wasn’t until a little over two years later that my heart began to change. After I spent some time away from infertility, I focused on myself, my dreams, my desires and who I now was without a functioning womb beneath my heart. There was a loss of womanhood there, a part of me that needed to be re-found, and I simply hadn’t been capable of considering any other options. Not until I rebuilt that girl I once was first.

Then the day came when a friend sent me a link to afamilyforeverychilld.org. There was a little girl whose profile she wanted me to look at—a little girl she said made her immediately think of me. She wasn’t placating, or trying to force another option upon me. She just truly thought that I could be this little girl’s mommy. And for whatever reason, I was at a point in my life where I was actually ready and willing to consider that possibility myself.

My heart began to change, softening to the possibilities that had before seemed somehow less-than. Over the course of one weekend, I poured through those profiles, looking into the eyes of so many children hoping for homes. It no longer seemed necessary to have a baby in my arms, or even to continue waiting for the forever love that seemed to be eluding me—not when there were so many older children looking for someone to care for them. And suddenly, nothing about being a mother to any of them felt less-than. In fact, I fell in love with the profile of one little girl in particular, a tween who reminded me so very much of myself at that age. I was now sure that we had always been meant to find each other.

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And like a starting gun exploding at the beginning of a race I was off, scrambling to do everything in my power to make that possibility a reality—as soon as humanly possible.

I contacted my local child services agency where I live in Alaska, and started immediately on the process of being cleared for foster care. As I neared the end of my classes, I was told that the little girl who had initially started me on this journey had been placed. At first, I was crushed. But then I realized ... she had just been meant to get me started. There was still a child out there for me. My path to motherhood was not over.

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