Motherhood for Me
My road to motherhood was different than most. Our children came to us through adoption. I did not experience conception, gestation, and delivery. I have never felt a child kick or hiccup in my womb. I have never experienced morning sickness or the glow of pregnancy. But I have experienced motherhood. I can’t imagine that my own experience has been any less than that of a biological mother, although I have no way of knowing for certain. Yet, I am so fulfilled as a mother that I have no desire to be told what I might have missed. Frankly, I think this path has offered the unique opportunity to open my heart to even more love.
When we were young, my husband and I decided to have a baby. We had discussed adoption as an option for later children, but neither of us gave pregnancy a second thought. Who does, really? When we had no success in getting pregnant we tried many different procedures and treatments to aid in the process. I do not remember most of them…what I remember is the heartache. I remember the days of anxious waiting, the tears each month when the answer was no, the desperate need to try again. And I remember the gradual realization that it would never happen.
I won’t speak for my husband but I am fully aware that I endured true grief for this child that would never be. I was shocked that this was happening to us, that we wanted to have a baby so badly and we just could not. I was angry…so angry. So many of our friends just seemed to have no trouble at all and I could not bring myself to be part of their lives. I gave up on more than a few friendships because they were able to have a baby and I was not. I tried making deals with God…looked for signs that this was it, even though I didn’t really believe in signs. And I was so sad, so very sad, and our whole life stopped. We stopped living in the moment. For six long years we lived for the future day that we would have a baby. We lost much of those years together because we were so focused on our goal.
Then, after a long time, we just stopped trying so hard to have a baby and we decided we were ready to be parents. Some may say that thought is redundant. Let me say it in a different way. We stopped focusing on ourselves. We stopped looking at the situation as a failure and started to think of the child, the children, with whom we wanted to share our lives. We were finally ready to parent.
We continued in some of the fertility treatments, but things were suddenly more relaxed. We began to explore other options, namely adoption. After looking at several agencies and varied types of adoptions, we settled on a small agency that dealt only with the open, domestic, adoption of newborns. We were terrified. We had heard so many horror stories about birthparents that change their minds years down the road or children who were adopted who had emotional problems. We heard nothing much of the success stories. Successful adoptions just don’t make for great ratings. And we were not convinced that open adoption was something with which we could be comfortable.
Could we really love a child whose birthparents were still in the picture? Wouldn’t it be easier to just have a closed adoption and pretend that this was our biological child…pretend to the world…pretend to ourselves…pretend to the child? It was not an easy concept to put into perspective. But, we believed what we read in books about the benefits for all parties in open adoptions. We believed the social worker from the agency when she said this thing works. We were terrified…but we leapt.
Eleven years later, we have been blessed threefold with children who could never be more our own if they were biologically ours. We are blessed with a huge family of people who love these children…grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins…birthparents, birthgrandparents, birthaunts, birthuncles, even siblings in some cases. And we are blessed to love them too. Yes, we love these people and are grateful to share our lives, our homes, our hearts with them. Our children know, or know of, and love the people responsible for giving them life and those who share their daily life.
As a matter of fact, we worry most about our child who has the least amount of contact with his birthfamily. There are unanswered questions for him that may remain so and we are powerless at present to help him. I can love them all with all of my heart, and I am confident that I am the one they think of as “Mom,” but I can’t take the place of their birthmom…and I do not wish to do so.
Today, I can look back at us… naïve and afraid…and I can smile a knowing smile. I can, with certainty, say that open adoption works for us. I can say that I am a better person because I know and love the birthparents of my children. I can say that I am a better mother than I might have been because I am responsible for a child who is also another mother’s child. And, I can say with my whole heart that if I were offered the chance to relive my life, I would ask that it all be the same…all the fear, all the grief…and all the love.