The Original Dream
When I was young, I dreamed of becoming a mother. When I was a new bride, I began preparing to become a mother, but becoming a mom wasn’t as easy as I dreamed or planned. When I was 23 years old, I had a miscarriage and was never able to conceive again.
Shortly after my miscarriage, I was diagnosed with “unexplained infertility.” It took 10 years of researching, 13 doctors, and finally the invention of the Internet to figure out why I wasn’t able to get pregnant. I recall using “webcrawler” to look up causes of infertility. I discovered Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). I also found a nearby doctor who specialized in PCOS. I was thrilled to have both a diagnosis and a doctor who could treat it. I later learned I also suffered from endometriosis as well.
Two doctors and numerous failed treatments and tests later, we discovered that my husband had male factor infertility. Before it was over, I had endured eight surgeries for endometriosis and 10 years of failed treatment. We were 20 years into infertility when it became clear I had to have a radical hysterectomy. By that time, I felt I had done everything humanly possible to to conceive and birth a child. Honestly, I was glad to close the door on that painful chapter of my life.
The Adoption Journey
Adoption was our plan even before we were married. My husband has an adopted brother who we both adore. We had always wanted to have biological and adopted children. To be clear, adoption was not our second choice. In fact, we began trying to adopt a baby during the last 10 years of our journey through infertility.
During those years, we had no idea adoption would be the only choice for us if we wanted children. We also had no idea how hard adoption would be for us. In all, we had nine interrupted adoptions. When I write that number even now it seems unreal.
After my hysterectomy, we decided we had done all we could to have a biological child and/or adopt. We decided it was time to face being childless. We began to travel, and for the first time in my adult life, I began to feel joy. It was a strange feeling to be free from treatments, and the monthly hopeful moments and the let down days later. Finally, I knew it was over! I knew I’d never have to think about my fertility again. I was relieved; I had done everything I could do.
As for adoption, it was still in the back of my mind. We had taken all the appropriate classes to adopt through the state, just in case a baby became available for adoption, but, honestly, my mind was made up. If the state required us to redo the classes in order for our profile to remain current, I was prepared to say, “Thanks, but we’re going to remain childless.” I was really done.
A Turn of Events
I re-enrolled in college, and I became a sworn in CASA. I began to map out my childless future, and then a miracle happened. I got a call from our social worker. She said, “Mrs. Johnson, I would like to come by your house. I have the profile of three children for you to look at. All three are in your age range, and they are siblings. May I come by this afternoon? You’ll have two weeks to meet them and decide if you want them.”
I almost fainted! My age range was three and under. I agreed for her to come by. When she handed me the profiles I couldn’t believe it. The first thing I saw was a photo of a 22-month-old little girl. I burst into tears. There it was, that face, the face I had dreamed about for 20 years.
However, there was a catch. She had two brothers: one a year older than her, and the other one year younger than her. I will admit those two faces gave me pause. Not because there was anything wrong with them, but because one of them was Hispanic and the other was black. I could not wrap my brain around raising three children who were three different ethnicities. It was overwhelming for me to think about.
After we met the kids and did some soul searching, I realized I had a pride problem. I realized all those interrupted adoptions happened because those children didn’t belong to us. We had mended a lot of families during those interrupted adoptions, and each time I walked away knowing I had made the right choice, but this time if I walked away, it wouldn’t be for the right reason. This time it would be because I ran scared.
So, after a lot of prayer and wrestling within myself, I found myself at peace with the idea of raising three kids who don’t look alike. I’m so glad I took the time to be honest with myself, acknowledge my fears, and find a way to work through them.
Raising my children has been the greatest joy of my life. It has opened my world up to people of all colors. It has taught me about tolerance, and, at times, the wrong of hate. It has helped me see the value of all races and their unique qualities.
A Normal Family
At home, we are not black, white, and Hispanic. At home, we are a family. We love each other, and we fight occasionally, but, at the end of the day, we are a normal family. All those fears I had were, for the most part, unfounded.
The fear that we would draw a lot of unwanted attention wasn’t completely unreasonable. We do from time to time get odd questions from strangers, but I have learned how to answer those questions without feeling offended or being offensive. When people stare and whisper (and they do), I smile at them or ignore them. It all depends on the situation. I’ve learned to be gracious and grateful to those who treat our family with dignity. At the end of every day, I thank God for this life I’m living; it’s rare and beautiful. That which I resisted has become my greatest blessing. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The message of my story is this: If you are suffering from infertility, when the time is right, you will find the strength and peace to resolve what is best for you and your spouse. You will know when enough is enough, and you will have the wisdom to be able to embrace a new path, should you discover you will never have a biological child.
If you feel you’d like to adopt, but fear an interrupted adoption or taking in a sibling group, please know your fears are reasonable. However, I think my story demonstrates the fact that sometimes even when our fears are realized, they aren’t as bad as we imagined. To adopt is to take a risk, but it’s a risk worth taking.
I want my story to give you hope. My children are the blessings God granted me after a long, hard struggle. I hope my story inspires those who are in the same struggle to keep dreaming and believing that at the end of all you are going through, there is joy for mourning and beauty for ashes.
The Fort Worth Moms Blog hosts the online Fertility Discussion with Tarrant County Moms, as part of the Neighbor Groups offerings. This is a safe, supportive place where local moms can discuss fertility issues and questions with one another. In addition, along with 18 other Neighbor Groups, families created through adoption can find community and support in the Adoptive Moms of Tarrant County Area. It’s simple and free to join!