Trigger Warning: This story contains mention of miscarriage that may be triggering to some.
“C.C. and I met online in 2006, only to discover we already had a handful of friends in common. The world of arty gay Los Angelenos is a small one. I was fresh off a relationship with a woman who had opinions on how I should do everything, from scooping the cat litter to making burritos. C.C. was, and is, far more interested in finding joy than casting judgment. With her, I was newly lighthearted. We took trips to New York and Puerto Rico, had picnics with friends, went to poetry readings, saw a million movies, and drank interesting cocktails in dark bars.
It occurred to us it would be fun to do some of these things—not the cocktails part, obviously—with kids. I’d always wanted to be a mom, and thanks to supportive parents and a legacy of adoption on both sides of our families, it never occurred to us we wouldn’t get the opportunity, one way or another.
But it took us 4 and a half years to become parents. 4 and a half years is ample time for everyone with an opinion to weigh in. Most of the people we knew were kind and thoughtful, but we still heard it all. ‘You’ll have no trouble getting pregnant—you go jogging and you’re a pescatarian!’ And, when we didn’t get pregnant: ‘There are so many things you can enjoy without kids, like traveling and going to museums!’
When I did get pregnant with twins and miscarried after 9 weeks, I was crushed in a way I hadn’t known was possible. I felt like part of me had died, because it had. One day, I ran into the husband of an old friend who had recently announced her pregnancy. He owned a food truck, and it was parked outside a cooking-supply store. I’d gone there to get our kitchen knives sharpened, and when I stepped outside, there he was, next to his shiny truck, the smell of cooked meat and onions in the air around us.
I mumbled congratulations on his impending fatherhood. He said thanks. I said something about my miscarriage. I looked hard at the chalkboard menu and tried not to cry. He said he was so, so sorry to hear it. ‘We don’t really know why it happened,’ I said. ‘Because God hates lesbians?’ He laughed because we knew him and how not-homophobic he was. After all, he and his wife had asked for donations to The Trevor Project, a nonprofit devoted to preventing suicide among LGBTQ+ youth, in lieu of wedding presents.
But somehow that ‘joke’ had found its way to his mouth and he had actually said those words. I did not think God hated lesbians any more than he did, but I carried with me the question familiar to almost everyone who miscarries: ‘What if it was my fault?’ I held my knives tightly and walked to my car.
A more common condolence we heard was, ‘You never know, a miracle might happen.’ I heard it from a coworker, and from a poet I knew, who found herself pregnant with twins well into her forties. Each time, I reminded the miracle-wisher of what they already knew: I was a woman married to a woman, and a few years into our journey, I found out I had a genetic predisposition to cancer that caused me to surgically bid farewell to my ovaries. The kind of miracle our well-meaning friends were describing only happened in the Bible.
I didn’t believe God hated lesbians, but I also didn’t believe God had any plans to make my or C.C.’s uterus ground zero for the second coming. So we signed on with an adoption agency. It was an easy decision. The LGBTQ+ community has a long tradition of chosen family, and neither of us was hung up on reproducing our own DNA. We’d both read ‘The Kid,’ Dan Savage’s memoir about meeting his son’s birth mom and adopting her baby, and it had convinced us domestic open adoption was the best route for us as well. We believed adoptees had a right to know as much as possible about their biological families, and we wanted to be sure our future child’s birth mom was at peace with her decision.
C.C. Googled ‘open adoption Los Angeles’ and found an agency we liked. It was literally the first result (thanks, Google Ad Grants). In a journey full of difficult parts, that one was easy. The paperwork that followed was a slog, but I treated it like school, and I’d always been a good student.
The 2 years that followed were not so easy. We had dozens of conversations with expectant moms who changed their minds or selected other families or turned out to be scam artists. But then, a miracle happened. A young woman who lived a few counties away from us in California chose us to adopt her baby.
It was a miracle that took a village to enact: the social workers at our agency, our families who helped us assemble a changing table and crib, our friend who fed our cats while we drove all night to get to the hospital when she went into labor 2 weeks early, the nurse who held her hand until we could. And most of all, our son’s birth mom. The woman who made a difficult, fierce, big-hearted decision for the sake of her baby and herself and her family.
Now our son, Dash, is 6 years old. We talk to him about his adoption all the time, and he doesn’t think it’s anything extraordinary because it’s the only thing he’s known. I wish I could say he sees his birth mom regularly, but she’s chosen to maintain some distance. It’s a choice that C.C. and I respect. We want her to do whatever is necessary to heal and to focus on her life now. We also know adoption is a long game. The door is open for her to step back into Dash’s life when the time is right.
We know she loves him, and Dash knows it too, I hope. I created a little comic book about his birth story for him. Like most kids, he is fascinated with his own babyhood. His first words. His first foods. His first mom.
For a little over a year now, we’ve been home-study-approved, trying to adopt a sibling for Dash. There was a baby who stayed with us for 2 weeks last spring, and we fell in love with him, but his birth parents decided not to go through with the adoption. It broke our hearts, but we supported their rights, and we know from experience that broken hearts can piece themselves back together.
I imagine what the pieces will look like: an expectant mom out there, maybe now, wondering about her baby’s future. Another hospital. The same crib. A proud big brother. Some days, it feels impossible. But everything that exists is a miracle of chance, and teamwork, and time. And I believe in all of those things.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Cheryl Klein from Los Angeles, CA. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. 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 touching stories about adoption:
‘Through tears, she said, ‘Tell her I love her. Tell her I didn’t give her away because I didn’t want her.’: Mom of 5 shares powerful open adoption, ‘We’ll forever be grateful for her sacrificial love’
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