Adoption changes your life in ways that are both obvious and surprising. We adopted our daughter at birth a little over two years ago, and even before she was born and before I became her mother, adoption had already changed my life in so many ways. In the two years I have been blessed to be her parent, my life has changed even more. While some of the ways my life has changed are what you would expect, it has also changed in ways even I could not have imagined.
We came to adoption as many couples do, after having experienced infertility. However long you deal with infertility and whether or not you pursue infertility treatments like we did, infertility, to put it plainly, sucks. It consumes your entire life and throws you onto the world’s worst rollercoaster you didn’t ask to ride. Once you decide to pursue infertility treatment, your whole life revolves around appointments and pills and shots. So much of your life before infertility can fall away as you deal with the pace of the medical procedures—not to mention the mounting costs and the emotional devastation when the procedures fail.
Long before we even knew infertility would be part of our story, my husband and I had discussed adoption and both decided it was something we would both be open to in building our future family. Often people ask me if deciding to stop IVF and switch to the process of adopting was hard, but truthfully, it was the easiest decision we have ever made. The second we made the decision that we were definitely ready to switch courses, I felt an enormous weight lift off of my shoulders. Adoption gave me hope and, for the first time in a long time, something to be excited about. Though the adoption process is time-consuming, it didn’t feel as fraught as infertility treatment. I knew that if we stayed the course, we would be parents. It was no longer a question of if, but when. I was able to enjoy doing all the things expectant parents get to do. We decorated the nursery, registered for baby gear, and told our closest friends and family that we had begun the adoption process once we went “live” with our agency and our profile was available to expectant mothers. I flew into a flurry of nesting activity almost immediately: doing SO MUCH LAUNDRY (which is normally my least favorite domestic task) and filling our freezer with food. I even packed a “go bag” of baby stuff, which my husband scoffed at as being unnecessary.
At least until we got the call. A whopping 13 days after we went live. The call went like this: you’ve been matched, the baby was born yesterday, it’s a girl, she’s several states away, can you be here by tomorrow afternoon? This was my first lesson as a parent that your kid will NOT do what you expect. Our daughter was several weeks early and came into the world with a bang. She has kept us on our toes ever since. As we got more information during the call, we learned she had been born 90 minutes from my hometown, where my parents and sister still lived. As we drove, we periodically got check-in calls from our agency, where we learned there were even more coincidences, things we had in common with her birth mother, and things that seemed like little nods from the universe saying “this is it, thanks for being patient.” Adoption started to restore my faith in the idea of good things happening for people who deserve good things. I’m not religious, but I can’t discount the fact that there are just too many moving pieces to our adoption story that are more than a coincidence.
Within 36 hours of getting the call, we were parents. It was amazing to be able to share my daughter’s first few weeks of life with my family, not to mention having help as we settled into our new roles as parents. Like most first-time parents, we had absolutely no clue whatsoever what we were doing, so we relied on our family and friends to help reassure us that yes, we could keep this small human alive. I had another wonderful source of support, then and now, that I would not have had unless we had chosen adoption. After we signed with our agency, I created a Facebook group for people using the same agency because one hadn’t existed previously. Shortly before my daughter was born, I had recruited a few other women to admin the group with me, and they have become my “village.” Beyond new-parent questions, we have developed an incredibly strong friendship that feels more like a sisterhood than anything. I can’t imagine not having these ladies in my life, but had we not chosen adoption, I never would have known them. Even now, over two years later, we have a running group chat where we talk literally every day. I have befriended many other adoptive parents as well and have found a sense of community in the adoption world I don’t think I’ve felt anywhere before in my life.
As time went on and my daughter grew, I found myself feeling the pull toward adoption advocacy. I found myself being the go-to person for people in our Facebook group as well as in other areas of my life. Your sister’s hairdresser is interested in adoption? Have her call me! Your cousin’s mailman has 3 adopted kids? Awesome! Let’s hang out! I began to find myself spending much of my free time talking to prospective adoptive parents about how to start the process and how to make the best choices for their family and find ways to manage the stress adopting can create. So much so that on a girls’ weekend trip, one of my friends asked, “Explain to me again why you aren’t doing this as your job?” I was an elementary school teacher before my daughter was born and had been a stay-at-home parent up to that point. After that weekend, I started the process of forming my company, The Adoption Mentor, and since then have been thrilled to provide guidance to couples in all stages of the adoption process. As with many small businesses, it has been a labor of love and not necessarily an overnight success. I am the CEO, CFO, Marketing Director, Webmaster, and all-around ringmaster all by myself, but it is incredibly fulfilling. Around the same time, I also wanted to find a way to combine my love of writing with my love of adoption and began crafting adoption-related stories for online parenting publications. I’ve recently become a staff writer for several adoption-focused websites as well.
With all of that said, the most obvious and profound way my life has changed is that I became a mother. I know everyone thinks his or her child is exceptional, but my daughter is just a remarkable little person, and I constantly find myself thinking “I can’t imagine her not being my child.” It matters not even a tiny bit that I did not give birth to her. If anything, it deepens my appreciation of the privilege of being a parent. Before you become a parent, you hear parents say the same things over and over again: the whole world is different to me now, I never knew I could love someone like this, it is like having my heart walking around outside my body. All of this is true. The list of things I would not do for my daughter is a blank page. Beyond me and my husband, she has brought so much joy to all of our family and my closest friends that it is hard to remember a time without her. She is very different from my husband and me in many ways, but she just fits perfectly with our admittedly crazy family and friends. Adoption has changed my life in so many ways, but she will always be the biggest and best way.