March into My Heart

Today’s drip: Fears about adoption? Part 2

The following is an excerpt from my soon to be published memoir, March Into My Heart, about the adoption of my daughter:

Adoption is not something I had ever considered before September 2001 when we first decided to look into it.   There were so many issues to face, especially for someone like me who worries about everything.  It always seemed like such a difficult thing to do legally, emotionally and logistically when others spoke aboutadoption.  I didn’t think I wanted to even know a woman who could give up her own child to strangers, let alone learn some of her most intimate health and family details.   Furthermore, I wasn’t sure I could love someone else’s child.  When I was in public places, I would glance around and look at someone else’s child and ask myself: “Could I love that child?”.  I didn’t think so.  And finally, how would I ever find the right child for us when you don’t “know” that child at birth?  What if my two natural children didn’t accept a new baby, especially without nine months to get used to the idea?  What if my friends rejected the whole idea as crazy?  I never knew anyone personally who adopted a child so no one ever talked about it.  There were so many unanswerable questions.  I was frustrated because I never asked anyone else about their adoption experience, so I was completely in the dark about adoption. I now realize I spent so much wasted time wondering where to start.  I had always shoved the possibility of adoption on a theoretical shelf labeled “too difficult”.

I now totally believe in adoption and now it seems so do so many friends of mine!  I have found out about so many other adopted children and adults that I never knew about.   Good friends who were adopted and just never mentioned it.  Friends who had adopted siblings in their families who seemed like they were natural siblings.  Now many people, friends and acquaintances, are eager to tell us they were adopted or a child of theirs was adopted. Its like joining a whole new community of people who have found incredible joy as adoptive parents or children.  More importantly, I cherish my adopted child as much as my natural children.  Its one of the best things we ever did for our family and I want to demonstrate to other people aching for a child, how wonderful the experience can be with a little luck and lots of love.

Life is about making ALL your dreams come true.  Having a daughter was my dream and I had to do all that I could to make it come true.  The only thing I regretted was not doing it sooner.  “What was I afraid of?”, I asked myself throughout the first year of my daughter’s life.   So now, I tell this story so other mothers and potential mothers can stop wondering about adoption and start on their own path to happiness.

* * *

After our experience, I have a completely different attitude about adoption.  Yes, we had heard numerous heart-wrenching stories about couples who had their hearts set on a child and came home empty-handed after the birthmother changed her mind.  We worried continuously throughout the process about the risk we were taking with our lives and the happiness of our two sons.  Almost everything worth spending time, effort and emotion on is risky.  Typically, the better the payoff, the greater the risk.  In the case of adoption, the payoff is extraordinary.  The love your child brings to your life is worth the hard work, risking disappointment and the emotional toil.  We found that out first hand with our daughter.  After our own experience, we had the honor of holding the hands of several couples while they went through the adoption process.  Each adoption runs through its own bumps and curves along the way.  I hope those who are reading this blog and thinking about adoption take the risk and make their dreams come true.  If you are considering it, you might check out the website of the caring individual who helped us through our adoption, Cindy at www.adoptaninfant.com .

Today’s Drip: Are you letting your fears of adoption keep you from realizing your dream?

After my two sons were born in my early thirties, I had extreme apprehension about adoption after struggling through miscarriages and infertility while attempting to have a third child after the age of 35.   It took a few years of disappointing episodes to realize that my body wasn’t going to give me another child.   We tried many treatments and new science available to us, but nothing seemed to work.  I became truly ChildDrenched; I was saturated in emotion over the loss of my fertility when I really wanted another child.  I couldn’t believe that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to raise a daughter and could not recover emotionally.   Many of us have read about the agonizing years of infertility in other blogs, books and magazines. So today, instead of reiterating sad tales about the physical problems many of us suffer through during the ChildDrenched years, I want to focus on one of the mental issues many of us face when we realize our bodies may not be willing to provide a(nother) child.

Apprehension about adoption is totally understandable;  I was there.  I was focused on two main questions:  First, would I have to live my life without the one thing that would truly make me completely happy? Most women want children at some point in their life and most of those people can’t imagine aging without ever having children. In my case, I wanted a daughter.  My ultimate happiness in life depended upon having a daughter and each day the struggle became harder and harder to live with.  I loved my sons and the incredible family experience they provided my husband and me.  However, I wanted to experience it all, including being a mother to a daughter.  I had the pleasure of a wonderful relationship with my own mother and couldn’t imagine not sharing that magic with my own daughter.  For those who want children, deciding to live without is very difficult to accept.  My second question was, what if adoption didn’t work for one reason or another?  I was worried about the birth-mother changing her mind, or the baby being unhealthy.  I was, and always have been, a worrier.  I got it from my mother, may she rest in peace.  Back then, I didn’t know anyone else who adopted that I could talk to about all my fears.  I imagined the worst but as we moved through the process, I ended up praying for the best.

Ten years ago, I found my beautiful, perfect daughter through adoption, after wrestling with many issues and concerns about loving and caring for an adopted child.  Today, I know why I never had a naturally-born daughter; it was because she was waiting for us to find her in another state. She was born six months after we decided to start the adoption process and my apprehension was gone the minute she was born.  I considered her mine instantly and loved her as much as my two sons who I carried for nine months.  I know there are women wondering about adoption—those with kids and those without.  Many women have reached out to me with questions about our adoption experience.  Some of them have two boys like I did and want a daughter but aren’t willing to risk the odds.  Some have been trying to become mothers for years.  If you are truly ChildDrenched, drowning in the passionate need for a child, and nothing else is working, I’d like to encourage you to consider adoption. It can happen quickly and it can happen here in the U.S.   Many think adoption only occurs in foreign countries, requiring months of travel, waiting, and documentation.  That’s not true.  Many think its too expensive and legally cumbersome in the U.S.  That’s not necessarily true either.

If women really want to make something happen, they can make it happen.  Adoption is one of the best (and most surprising) things I ever did after I allowed myself to become optimistic and truly explored the possibility.  My daughter is everything I dreamed of and our family couldn’t be happier she is a part of it.  We all deserve to make our dreams come true, even if it takes a little more effort than expected.  Do some research, ask more questions, and look into your heart before deciding against this incredibly wonderful opportunity.  My next drip will include an excerpt from my memoir about my daughter’s adoption.  I hope you will subscribe to this blog and read it!

Today’s Drip: Why are the emotions I write about called “drips”?

One of my readers asked me why I title my blog entries “Today’s Drip”.  Good question.  There are several reasons why women facing infertility spend endless days, weeks and beyond in emotional pools that never seem to drain.  Some of us had never planned on facing such a devastating problem as infertility and the shock is all-encompassing.  Even for those women who already have children, the emotional toil of trying for another child over and over again is tremendous.  Its seemingly endless, and each day starts with the first thought being “what will today bring?” Many, not all ChildDrenched women, wake up with dread about the day ahead.  Will there be bad news?  Will there be any news?  It occurred to me that the constant thoughts on the subject can be like a relentless, leaky faucet that just keeps dripping.  Drip, drip, drip.

After many months or years, the quest for a child is the main focus in life for most people that keep working so hard at it.  The amount of time, money and emotion is excessive, especially when all too often, it brings no results.  Being “ChildDrenched” is difficult and defining it accurately for everyone is impossible.  Writing something that everyone can relate to and get relief from is also nearly unattainable. My goal is to help some of the people who are in a perpetual state of discovering the right solution for them and their family to cope.  Hopefully, there will be some relief from the constant drip.

And finally, I live in Seattle, which is usually covered in many drips, all year long.  The analogy of dripping in emotion seemed appropriate for both the feeling and the location.  I hope to reach out to those who need this affirmation and appreciation of their feelings, both optimism and the dreaded hopelessness. I’d like to thank those of you who may read this blog strictly in support of me, the writer, or in support of those you choose to share these posts with; those friends, daughters, relatives, or neighbors who may be ChildDrenched.

Today’s drip: Do you ever feel like you are part of a club that may only exist in your mind, but still wonder if others feel the same?

During my ChildDrenched years, the time in my life when I felt totally saturated with emotion about having another child, I remember feeling stuck in several virtual clubs.  Unfortunately, they only existed in my mind.  If they were real, I may have found comfort from the other members.  I knew there were other women who were facing the same issues each morning when they woke up, just like me.  Perhaps misery loves company?  Or was I just dreaming someone else was out there willing to talk about it?  This was before the Internet allowed you to connect with anyone anywhere with a click.  I hope through the thoughts in this blog, women who yearn for a more concrete membership can find it.  It takes courage to reach out for support but when you do it feels so much better to talk it out.

There were three clubs I “belonged” to, even though they were imaginary memberships.  The feelings were very real in my mind and affected me almost every day.  As I went about the daily task of managing my growing family each club brought mixed emotions for me.  There definitely were times I wished others would publicly acknowledge their own feelings so we could commiserate.  I assumed others, like me, were worried about the emotional impact on their lives.  If I admitted my feelings out loud, would I still be able to move through my life with a positive attitude?  What would others think of me?

I was devastated at the age of 33 when my mother and best friend died from cancer.  We had been so close, especially when I became an adult, that losing her felt like a blow I would never recover from.  I lost the person who would have been there when I needed help with my two young sons, ages 2 1/2 years and 2 months when she died.  Her loss created an emotional and physical void that affected my ability to mother my two boys easily, which made it seem impossible to manage that third child I wanted eventually.  Intellectually I knew other women had lost their mothers in the prime of their lives, but I felt very alone.  Good friends are helpful, but they are not your mother.  No one talked about losing their mothers and the loyal support that came with them.  I was suddenly a member in an exclusive “young mothers who have lost their own mothers club” with no benefits whatsoever.  I watched in sheer envy as my girlfriends appreciated the support their own mothers provided with their children.  I also felt the pain for my own children that they would never know the love of their grandmother.  Membership in this club was painful, lonely and permanent.

Before losing my mother, I had already felt part of the “moms of all boys club” with my two young sons who I loved dearly, right after my second son was born. This club was much more obvious to others, and the women I knew who belonged were special.  Many of us felt that we were chosen to raise these wonderful boys for various good reasons.  It was a club which definitely brought happiness (sports games, science projects, and campouts), as well as hardship and exhaustion (“Young boys are so busy!”).  They seemed to just love dirt wherever we went and they always made us laugh.  Again, women in this club didn’t really talk about the fact that they may have wanted one daughter, as well as a son, but I wished they did.  I remained hopeful that the future held a daughter for me but talking about it with other women who felt the same would have made it easier.

Two years after my mother died, I joined another emotional club which was all about having another child.  For me, I wanted a daughter.  For other women who may not have had any children, and it was becoming more and more public by then, they just wanted any child.  This is what I call being “ChildDrenched”; spending every day emotionally consumed with wanting a child, whether it was the first, second or third child in the family.  There were more scientific methods of conceiving available as seemingly more and more people became infertile, which we all read about in health magazines, newspapers and now, the Internet.  Even though there are so many options available to women in this club, which is extremely valuable to thousands of families, women rarely talk openly about infertility.  I wanted other women to talk about it while I was going through it.  I encourage people in pain to reach out to others for support.

At forty, I adopted my third child, my daughter, and until she was born, no one, not even my good friends, knew about my frustration.  I was virtually alone in that club for many years.  From my experience, I hope women join in this, and all the other, conversations about the “private clubs” in their lives.    Sharing is therapeutic and gives us all the strength to keep moving forward through those ChildDrenched years.

 

 

Today’s Drip: Why do many of us focus on the things we don’t have, rather than the things we do?

Everyone I know strives for that perfect life, including the perfect mix of family/home life and work.  It’s a struggle to meet the demands of busy schedules, the workout routines we’d like to stick to, and getting those healthy dinners on the table, all while we yearn to spend time with our friends, or plan that perfect vacation.  Time is always too short or we run out of energy or focus before we get everything on our “list” done for the day, or the week.  Those seem like the easy complaints– the ones we have some control over– and if they don’t get done, we still persevere and try to do more or better the next day. Seldom do these time-related frustrations keep us up at night because we all seem to suffer from the same issues from time to time.

But what about the complaints that we can’t control?  The ones that affect everything we do or think about on a constant basis.  The complaints that leave us staring blankly out the window asking ourselves Why?  Why can’t I change this?  Why is this happening to me?  Why do I care so much about this?  These are the complaints that saturate our lives and take over our productivity, confidence and emotional health.  I’m certain there are many categories of these kind of complaints, especially if we asked both men and women, but in this blog, I hope to focus on just one:  The need for a child.

I call this blog “ChildDrenched” because it defines the people, mostly women, who are emotionally drenched in aching for a child.  It’s a significant problem for many people as the clock ticks and months go speeding by while we wait for the right time, the right partner, and the appropriate bank account.  But once everything is lined up and ready, the idea of having a child seems to just remain that—an idea.   If we spend our entire childhood, as well as our twenties, thinking positively about our future, what happens to that positivity when the plan goes awry?  By now, most of us have a friend or acquaintance who has struggled with infertility so we look at their situation and hope that doesn’t happen to us.  But until it does, no one understands the truly helpless feeling it creates.

Children are everywhere and when you want one, they are even more noticeable.   They show up in every aisle of the grocery store, at the next table in the restaurant, and holding their mom’s hand on the sidewalk.   You wonder what your own child would look like, say, or affect your own life.  When you want a child and you cannot have one, the wondering may turn into needing and eventually desperation.  It becomes an exhausting struggle between what you want and what is actually happening.  Each month brings a cycle of optimism and hope which gets harder to maintain with each disappointing pregnancy test.  I hope to create a forum for those women who literally, or figuratively, cannot think of anything else but having a child.  I hope these emotionally drenched women take comfort in others’ experiences, complaints, comments and suggestions, including my own.

Many of us spent so much of our dating lives making sure we didn’t get pregnant at the wrong time that we are shocked when we can’t actually have children when we finally want them. In this world of so many more career options, we face more/longer school requirements to become professionals or landing the perfect job.  We are generally spending too much time in non-social environments on our computers or watching TV at home that we create longer waits before settling down with the right partner, sometimes until we are in our thirties.  Most of the “young” grandparents I know, had children in their early twenties.  Now it seems that people who get engaged in their early twenties are accused of jumping the gun or not being ready for marriage.  Clearly, everyone is different and people are free to make their own decisions.  I don’t judge people or blame them for potentially causing their own infertility by prioritizing their careers before having children.  I myself didn’t have my first child until I was thirty-one.   Instead, I hope to make us all feel comfortable with our decisions and getting through the dark “ChildDrenched” days together.