When I became a foster and, ultimately, an adoptive parent, something mysterious happened. Rainbows started popping up in the comments section of my posts on social media and in my DMs. With the rainbows, came messages of hope, congratulations and often, solidarity.
“We thought of adopting before we finally conceived.”
“My third IVF just failed. You give me hope for a family.”
“My friend just suffered another miscarriage. Where should she go for information on adoption when she’s ready?”
“After our last cycle, we decided wanted to foster to adopt.”
“My neighbor got pregnant less than a year after they adopted their daughter!”
The rainbow emoji is often used to communicate something beautiful coming after the rain – like a child conceived after loss.
When I receive these messages, I have so much emotion.
I feel honored that these women are willing to share such a deep, vulnerable part of their lives with me. I feel admiration for those who are willing to put themselves through so much physical pain and emotional anguish to bring a child into the world. I feel grief for their unimaginable losses. I also feel like a fraud. Like I had inadvertently, by becoming a foster and adoptive parent, become an interloper in a sacred group of sisters.
There was a time when I watched the calendar every month – but to time when we could have unprotected sex without the risk of conceiving a child. In the past, I’ve taken the pill and even used the ring – remember that crazy contraption? I currently have an IUD.
I have never tried to conceive a child. I have never suffered through IVF injections. I have never mourned a failed cycle or a lost baby. Fostering and adopting was my first choice. “Older child adoption” (a phrase that, heartbreakingly, is often used to refer to children over the age of about five or six), was my first choice on the path to parenthood.
Some might say it’s a calling from God or the Universe. Other’s might call it intuition or a generosity of spirit. I truly don’t know what to call it. It’s just something I knew. The same way that some people just know they want to have a baby. I knew I wanted to be a foster parent. I knew that I wanted to adopt one of my foster children someday. Of course, as with lots of things we just know we need to do, it took time and thought and lots of doubts before I actually went and did it.
I don’t always offer up this truth. It’s sometimes met with a certain suspicion. As I have said before, I don’t know if we would be able to have a biological child. We’ve never tried. It’s uncomfortable to get sympathy and support for something you never experienced. It’s even more uncomfortable to not be believed or understood when you try to explain your truth.
As AFC Dad said so eloquently, some “walk the road of infertility to lead them to the wonderful world of adoption.” I’ve had the privilege of supporting some amazing human beings on this walk and it is beautiful.
But, in the words of Carrie Bradshaw, I can’t help but wonder what the assumption that adoption is something people do when they can’t have a biological child of their own is doing to our adopted children and our adoptive parents. I can’t help but wonder if this “second choice” narrative makes them feel “second best.” I also want to encourage those, like me, who want to be a parent but never had that desire for a baby. I want to show them that they aren’t that weird. They may not (as was often said to me) “wake up one day with an overwhelming desire to become pregnant.” They may be called to be a parent in another way. Or called to do something else entirely.
For those who walked the painful road of infertility to lead them to adoption, your story is beautiful. Whether you consider adoption the “Plan A” that God or the Universe or whatever you believe in asked you to walk through the pain of infertility to get to or the type of miraculous “Plan B” that can only be borne of hardship, your journey and your family is a miracle of love. But, as a friend of mine who recently became licensed to adopt shared on Facebook earlier this month, “Adoption does not cure infertility.” Miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death, and infertility are losses all their own that must be given the respect of their own grief. As many will tell you, the decision to “just adopt” doesn’t take away this loss or this pain. Of course, I would be remiss if I did not mention that adoption is always born of some tragedy – a mother separated from the child she bore is always tragic. But tragedy sometimes make way for the biggest miracles.
Adoption is its own path. It’s not a second choice. We may all walk a different road to get here – but when we’re here, it’s very much a first choice not a consolation prize. If you’re like me, adoption may have always been your path. Adoption was my plan A.
Adoption was my first choice. It can be yours too.
This post was inspired by a post from blogger AFC Dad. Check it out at the link below.
There’s a common myth in our society that adoption is a Plan B for life. On the contrary, it’s Plan A for our life and countless others.