Our Adoption Journey
Hello my name is Sarah and I am 36 years old, married, and working full-time while taking care of a home, two crazy puppies, and a great husband who recently started nursing school (his longtime dream). We are embarking on a journey, my husband and I, and I want to pause, periodically, and reflect on it all, just to keep my bearings I guess.
I am not really sure how to begin this story, and I have no concrete idea where it will go, but I guess I will probably start with an essay I wrote when I was 15 years old, a sophomore in high school, in one of my favorite courses, history. Our instructor asked us to write a paper about our own ‘history’, as told from the future, as if we were looking back over the span of our lives. At first I didn’t know what I could say. I was a nerdy little blonde with asthma, crooked teeth and a Dostoyevsky novel in my locker. I was a little bit of a thing, and my future seemed like a big, vague and fuzzy blob that waited somewhere far away while I wheezed it out in gym class. I knew that I was going to college somewhere, and I knew that I would write all my life and so choose a profession where writing was involved, but other than that I had not a clue what to say about my unwritten history. So I went home, sat down at my old electric typewriter (yes we were a little slow to get a family computer), and started typing whatever popped into my head. Tap tap tap! Go to college. Tap tap! Get a writing degree. Tap tap! Get a job, get married. Tap tap!
Adopt a baby.
To this day I don’t know where that idea really came from. It was not something anyone in my family had ever done, to my knowledge. It wasn’t something we even talked about in the hypothetical sense at dinner. I had grown up the youngest of six, with a mom who did home daycare, and surrounded by babies and helping fetch diapers and bottles. My sister and I constantly played house with our imaginary husbands (mine looked like Pierce Brosnan or the lead singer of Duran Duran), and dozens of dolls. I stuck one down my shirt as a little girl pretending to be with child, with my sister and our friends we rolled them around the neighborhood in strollers, we nursed them with bottles and burped them on our shoulders (these were not the fancy new programmed-to-barf dolls thank goodness.) So I guess what I always thought was that somewhere in the distant future I would have an undefined number of babies the good old-fashioned way and that would be that.
And yet, here I was, 15 years old, tapping away about my future that was coming slowly closer every day, and in that moment I typed those words. Adopt a baby. And from there the seed, as they say, was planted. I wrote pages and pages about all the kids I would adopt, disabled ones, AIDS babies, anyone who was in need of a good home. I don’t know, maybe I had read an article about Mia Farrow and subconsciously idolized her. This was before Angelina and Brad. But whatever source it came from, the idea was there, and though I moved on from high school, then college, it lingered. I do remember during my one serious relationship of my 20s, when we were discussing marriage and kids, I light-heartedly mentioned my curiosity about adopting. And I remember when my boyfriend resolutely dismissed the idea, firmly saying that he could not love a child that was not ‘his’ by blood, that I probably shrugged and said, “OK” (as we do in our 20s when we act like we don’t care), but I felt keenly…disappointed. I appreciated his honesty and didn’t expect him to share my interest, but it’s like when you know you have this part of you that you haven’t really opened up, and locking it away and tossing the key just seems like a shame.
That relationship ended, and life moved on as I pursued my teaching career. But, from an idea typed out as a teen to a journey into my thirties as a single woman living on her own, I still carried this adoption germ with me. When my older sister and her husband decided to adopt their second child, all of my interest and enthusiasm rose again, and I watched with eagerness as they got certified and waited for The Call. When it finally came it seemed surreal – more to them than anyone I’m sure. One day they asked my other sister and I to watch our niece Kendall so they could go to the hospital and pick up her baby brother. With that, baby David came into our lives, all two days and 8 pounds of him. And with his poofy dark hair and sleepy smile, he was not just theirs, my sister and her husband’s – he was ours. Cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, to all of us he was family, as instantly and miraculously as every baby born should be. He has always been ours and watching that journey gave me the confidence to know that I would someday explore it myself. With or without a husband. So onto the next chapter I went…