Sometimes I am taken aback by how utterly thoughtless and intrusive human beings can be…
For example, the number of times that people who barely know me have asked why I adopted children instead of having “my own,” is staggering. I know it’s most likely not their intent, but what often comes across in their tone is that my adopted children are somehow “less,” a consolation prize of sorts and that biological children would’ve been better.
Of course, being the polite human I am, I rarely challenge these people and instead respond with a vague answer like, “it was the right decision for my partner and I.” When what I really want to say is “They are my own children asshole.” Or, “None of your f’ing business.”
But today, after over 12 years of inappropriate questions and judginess, I’m walking into the share circle on my own terms.
The reason I decided to adopt is two fold. First and foremost, adopting has been something I have wanted to do for a very long time. Having been raised in a family that welcomed foster children into our home, I saw firsthand how heartbreaking it is for kids to grow up without a sense of permanence and belonging. But, what I also witnessed, and perhaps more importantly, was how love, attachment and the feeling of family can happen with a child that is not your blood because it happened again and again. Every child that joined our family, however briefly, changed my concept of family and altered my worldview.
So, not surprisingly, as I shifted into adulthood my plan for a family of my own had always included both biological and adopted children. I just hoped that I would be fortunate enough to find a partner who felt the same way. And luckily for me, I did. But before we could even get started on our dream family there was a rather big fly in the ointment that needed to be dealt with.
Which brings me to the second reason adoption has been on my radar for a long time. From day one I have had a messed up menstrual cycle that has been both erratic and painful and has only worsened over time. Even as a teenager I knew that this wasn’t a good sign for my fertility, but rather then borrow trouble I chose to ignore it until it was time for me to start a family.
Then, at 28, a few months after I’d gotten married, my suspicions were confirmed. After many tests and countless medical professionals prodding around my lady bits, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome & Endometriosis, both chronic illnesses that can have a disastrous impact on a woman’s fertility. And for me that was most definitely the case. I was told that my chances of conceiving without some serious medical intervention would be close to zero. And even then it would be a very costly long shot. Devastating doesn’t feel like a strong enough word to describe that diagnosis.
However, strangely enough, when I think back to that life-changing day, I can’t actually remember many of the details other then a feeling of numbness. In retrospect I think I experienced a system overload and just shutdown.
What I do recall vividly is my partner’s reaction when I told him the news. “I guess we’ll just have to adopt more kids then,” he said while squeezing me in all encompassing bear hug.
It was a defining moment in our relationship and in our lives.
I won’t pretend that my heart didn’t ache terribly at the thought of never carrying a child. In fact I even did one round of hyper-ovulation drugs in a Hail Mary attempt to change my fate. (A tale of medication-induced, hormone insanity and rage for another post.) But because of my early experiences with foster children I believe I was able to move through the grief of my infertility diagnosis quicker then most and embrace a new plan. And when I paused to search my soul I was able to come to the realization that what I wanted most was not to be pregnant, but to be a parent, to create family and fortunately life had already shown me a way to make that dream a reality. And so our adoption journey began.
So maybe now, after getting this off my chest, when people ask “Why I didn’t have children of my own?” or “Why I adopted?” I’ll smile when I’m giving them my patented response, knowing that my girls have been the greatest gift in my life and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Or maybe I’ll just tell them it’s none of their f’ing business and flip them the bird as I walk away. It will depend on the day.