“Have you ever wanted something so badly but it took a long time to get it, or maybe you never did get it? Me too.
I grew up wanting to be a mom. If you asked me what I wanted to be when I was a child, I would say a teacher or a mom. Even in high school, I didn’t think a college degree was necessary because I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. I enrolled in classes and honestly, I thought would never finish because a handsome and well-off man would whisk me away and we would have babies. The joke was on me, though. I finished my Bachelor’s degree and then got married, but my husband was not in a hurry to have kids. I completed a Master’s degree program to pass the time until I would be a mom.
I went off of birth control in the early summer of 2014. Infertility ran in my family, and I naively thought, ‘Well, it will probably take about two years, but then I’m sure to be a mom.’ Ha! This was not the case. After about a year and a half, I started feeling depressed. My husband and I had moved to a new state, with no family or friends nearby, and the one thing I had always wanted seemed so far out of my reach. I felt like my world was caving in and I spent many nights crying myself to sleep.
By January 2016, I knew something needed to change. I had read Gretchen Rubin’s book, ‘The Happiness Project,’ a few times and decided I would create a theme to choose joy for the year. I started reading more about happiness and quickly learned happiness comes from within. While external factors can influence the way we feel, happiness is ultimately up to us. I started keeping track of things that made me happy each day. Sometimes it was a walk around the block, sometimes a hug, but I found something every day that made me smile.
Choosing to be happy every day, reading happiness books, and actively writing down what created joy for me distracted me from wanting to be a mom, at least for a while. I was ignoring the fact I wasn’t a mom. I was trying to be ‘happy’ even though inside, I was still hurting. Eventually, I realized choosing to be happy is part of it, but to really experience happiness through this unwanted challenge meant creating a life I was truly happy to have.
Personally, I knew IVF wasn’t an option. My husband and I had discussed fostering and private adoption, but at the time, we knew we weren’t in a place to pursue either. I knew this meant we were putting our dreams on hold, which killed me. I knew if I wanted to be happy, I needed to figure out how to be happy without being a mom. This was no easy task. In 2017, I needed a break and we spent the year traveling and having fun together. It was just what I needed to recharge.
In the summer of 2018, I had reoccurring dreams about a little boy waiting for us. I felt prompted it was time for us to pursue private adoption. We had planned to begin the process in January 2019, but I felt an urgency—the time was now. I couldn’t get this dream out of my mind and it was all I thought about for a few days until we finally decided to move forward. We began the adoption home study process in August 2018. As I had written adoption home studies in my previous employment, I knew the level of intensity we were about to get into. We gave a stranger all of the information about ourselves, our upbringings, marriage, finances, health, etc. We had a social worker come to inspect our home and essentially deem us qualified to be parents. Then came the waiting. At this point, we had already waited 4 years to grow our family. This waiting would be even harder.
We decided to do pursue a private domestic infant adoption. We didn’t use an agency and had to advocate for ourselves using word of mouth, social media, pass-along cards, and our own website. We asked friends, family, and strangers to share our information in the hopes to be matched privately. I tried posting regularly but would often feel as though I was annoying everyone on my social media. I felt like a nag asking for help again and again. ‘Normal’ couples didn’t have to ask for help to grow their families, so why should we have to? It seemed as though many didn’t understand why we were doing this. I often felt desperate because I knew it only took one share to get to the right person.
I will likely never know why I felt so prompted to start our adoption process when we did. Time went by so slowly as we waited to be matched. We had expectant mothers reach out to us but it didn’t work out because of varied reasons. We had scammers reach out to us too, and while we figured it out before we got our hopes up too much or lost anything, it was emotionally draining. I wanted to give up several times. I didn’t feel prepared for how hard it would be emotionally to wait with no end date in sight.
In June of 2019, I told my husband, ‘I’m ready to use an agency. I can’t keep posting and waiting. I’m almost out of hope.’ I did my best to find joy in our situation, but we had essentially put our lives on hold and all I wanted was a break from it all. My husband said, ‘We need to wait just a few more months.’ He held onto hope when I couldn’t.
In July 2019, an expectant mother reached out to us. She was early on in her pregnancy and said, ‘I know my baby is supposed to be with you.’ It felt too good to be true. I thought it was a scam, so we weren’t in a rush to meet with her. She maintained contact with us and we were able to meet her in August. Going to meet her for the first time was so nerve-wracking. Self-matching feels a lot like dating and you never know what to expect. She ended up being the sweetest and most loving person. She let us know that same evening she wanted to place with us. At this point, I should have felt relief and joy, but what if she changed her mind? She absolutely had every right to reconsider at that stage.
We were incredibly fortunate enough to be able to attend appointments with her and as a result, began to get to know her. I was able to meet her mom, sister, and daughter prior to the birth and they started to feel like an extension of our family. Having the opportunity to find out the gender with her was surreal. Hearing his heartbeat, seeing him move… actual evidence of a baby was truly a gift. We loved being able to surprise our families with the news but we waited until she was around 20 weeks, as we were still apprehensive.
She went into labor on a day we had already planned on visiting her. Even though we were ready, I still ran around the house in a panic. It didn’t seem real. Being with her while she labored and delivered is a memory I will never forget. I am so indebted to her for allowing us both to be in the room with her. We made it a point the time in the hospital was her time and she had every right to decide to keep him if she chose to.
We left the hospital that night and I felt like everything was going to fall apart for us. I didn’t sleep at all. The next morning we made our way back to the hospital and were told she had a hard night but was doing better. She said, ‘I feel reassured I’m doing the right thing by choosing you.’ We spent time together over the next few days, getting to know her even more as well as her family. This sacred time in the hospital really strengthened our bond and it’s something I will never regret.
Since bringing our sweet boy home, we’ve tried our best to stay in contact with his first family. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it more challenging, but we are blessed we have been able to get together with them on several occasions. Having an open adoption is important to us. We have pictures of his first family hung in our home. We talk about them and we want him and them to know we will never keep them away from each other. We truly see his biological family as our family. I recognize we’re still at the beginning of this open adoption and it will evolve as time goes by, but I know with continued work and love, we will all benefit from this relationship and the support given to our son.
Ultimately, my journey to find joy through infertility and the adoption process has taught me these are complex situations to be in. Grief is a huge part of it. Your heart feels broken from all the things you wish you had and the plans you made. In adopting, your heart breaks for your child’s first family and for your child themselves. It also doesn’t cure infertility and you need to recognize you are not a savior to these children and their families.
I ignored the initial grief of infertility for a long time. I acted like I was fine and happy living the way I was if I couldn’t be a mom. I tried to be positive about it, but I wasn’t being authentic or vulnerable about what was going on deep down. It took a couple of years, but I learned the first step to finding joy in sorrow is to admit there is sorrow. It’s okay to feel disappointed over losing your wishes. I learned it’s okay to be open about what I’m going through and sometimes, by sharing my experiences with infertility and adoption, I can meet others with a similar journey.
I won’t lie and say adoption is easy with rainbows and unicorns. It takes work, patience, heartache, and open arms. It doesn’t look the same for everyone, but it has been beautiful. I’m so glad we pursued this journey.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Beth Flint. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more inspiring stories about open adoption:
‘The nurse came in and said, ‘Her new parents are ready for her.’ Only 15, I kissed her soft baby cheek, and placed her into the arms of her mama.’: Teen mom embarks on ‘beautiful’ open adoption journey, ‘I couldn’t have picked better parents’
‘I don’t want you to go home. You can stay with us.’ Arlo was just an hour old. ‘That would be wonderful,’ I accepted.’: 2 moms come together for the love of their son in open adoption, ‘It wasn’t weird, it wasn’t awkward, it’s everlasting love’
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