I was watching “Ellen” recently when the musician Pink was a guest on the show. She had a baby girl 16 months ago and named her Willow. She described the experience as “life changing” and from everything I’ve read, her daughter saved her marriage. I enjoyed seeing someone like Pink embrace being a new mother, even the diapers, and giving credit to Willow for her happiness. I will not highlight the fact that her marriage was saved by having a child because I don’t believe that’s a healthy strategy when a marriage is in trouble, for many reasons. However, I loved one of the her last comments in the interview with Ellen: “Now my husband can’t call me a freak because someone is dancing with me.” It warmed my heart because she obviously made a connection with her daughter that seemed similar to the one I made with mine.
I spent many years trying to have a daughter after my two biological sons were born. I loved my boys beyond words, but it was my dream to have a daughter too. To make it worse, my husband referred to our family as the blue team (three members, plus the male dog) and the pink team (me). After adopting our daughter, I felt finally complete. We both love the music, the clothes, the slumber parties, and just spending time together. Adding a member to the pink team was critical to my happiness and although the adoption process was not easy, ten years later I am so grateful for the experience of having a daughter. I would have regretted it had my husband and I not been so determined.
Shortly after adopting my daughter, I was approached by at least four friends considering adoption for very similar reasons to mine. They each had two boys and wanted a girl. A number of them encouraged by my success strongly considered adoption, rather than taking the risk of having a third boy. Some worried that three kids would overwhelm them. Others wondered if their husbands would be supportive through the process. I was a positive but cautious advocate for adoption and tried to be completely honest about the experience I had. All adoption journeys are very different so I couldn’t guarantee a good outcome. I could only express my sincere gratitude and love for my daughter, and encourage them to take the steps toward fulfilling their dreams.
As I look back, none of those friends went through with adoption, I wonder how they feel so many years later. I don’t think less of the women who let the opportunity slip by as the years went by. There were probably good reasons why they never went through with it. In many ways, it’s a daunting task with some risks and possible disappointments along the way. Those women seem happy as their sons grew into teenagers and young men, but I can’t help wondering if they feel some regret. I can’t imagine my life without my daughter, now that my sons are in high school and college. My relationship with my daughter is very different than my relationship with my sons. She has different interests and needs from me, as her mother. My sons have always shown their love for me in wonderful ways, but my daughter wants to spend time with me.
Adding a baby at age forty, it will be awhile before I can call myself an empty-nester, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I feel that my life is complete having raised my sons and now my daughter. It was what my mother, my role model, had and it’s what I had always dreamed of. As a mother, I know I can look back on my life experiences and never wonder what it would have been like to raise a daughter. I know my mother had a different relationship with me than she had with my brother, and it never took anything away from her relationship with him. It was just different.
As my daughter grows into her tweens and talks about it, her friends understand adoption a little more. They embrace her as normal, just like them. One of her friend’s mother recently told me how “special” my daughter was because she was adopted. I agreed. She also said that she had always hoped to adopt her second child, but never got the chance when her marriage fell apart. She has a daughter now but always hoped for a son. Her dreams were different from mine but since they were never fulfilled, her sadness is unmistakable.
Adoption seems to be a quiet topic; people rarely talk about their experiences. I hope to change that. Through this blog, and my upcoming book about my adoption journey, I hope to encourage women and their spouses to consider adoption to complete their families when pregnancy isn’t possible or there are specific goals for their lives.
So, to end this blog where I began, with a musical reference, here’s a quote from a song by Tim McGraw: “I hope you get the chance to live like you were dyin.” I like the message embedded in the lyrics of this song: Don’t miss out on making all your dreams come true.