Friend: “Are you sure you want to adopt? Aren’t those kids always trouble maker as teenagers? At least when you have your own, you know the genes..”! Me:…with a pounding heart holding back my own fears. No child deserves that. If everybody would think like that nobody would adopt. It took me a while to answer those questions with belief: “…So that means that all teenager out there who make trouble are adopted?” Friend: “???…No…but isn’t that what you hear…?” Me: “Don’t you think it is more about being a teenagers rather than being adopted?”
Friend: Yes, but still aren’t you afraid about the unknowns during the pregnancy?” Again hearing my own fear whispering. She is right, this is scary and crazy, you won’t be in control! I spoke with the confidence I had left: “Yes I am afraid that I won’t be in control, but I also strongly believe that love and attention have a big impact on a child on who he/she becomes.”
I could go on and on with stressful conversations we had. Sometimes you feel in defending mode and sometimes it is very helpful and comforting sharing thoughts with your friends. However my fertility coach always said, hurtful questions are “shity gifts”. They make us think and we need to figure out how WE feel about it…And that was true, we did find our own clarity and confidence along the way, but it took a couple strange conversations.
Anyhow everybody is different, some people know it from the very beginning and don’t fear anything and for others like me it takes a while to find comfort despite the fact that there are unknowns. So take the time you need and just remember, all answers won’t be answered and that is OK. Let it be. You will see it won’t even matter in the end anymore.
What I had a hard time with during our fertility journey was when “parenting options” were just thrown at us. For example when we did IVF (in vitro) the nurse explained to us the whole procedure, which can be frightening when you learn everything about it, especially that one attempt contains about 40 shots…I sat there with my husband and I was confused and afraid of this medical journey. The nurse said to me while she was writing in her chart: “Oh, if this doesn’t work, you can still adopt” All I felt hearing was…Oh if you don’t like this car just take another one…I looked at her puzzled and it screamed inside of me: “I am about to punch about 200 shots into my body within the next couples months and all you can say to me is: “You can still adopt”? How about: “I totally understand Birgit that this overwhelming, this procedure sounds frightening and yes the success rate is low. However look at the women who got pregnant through IVF. It works. I hope for you you will be one of them. Stay positive we are here for you – you are not alone!”
Each journey whether naturally, via medical support or adoption is a journey on its own and it deserves acknowledgment and support at a time.
I don’t want to generalize, I am sure there are many empathetic nurses out there and others have made much better experiences. Nevertheless IVF did not work for us and I don’t blame any of this ‘missing empathy’ to our outcome. I believe, if it is meant to be it will happen. However it would have made this experience much more human and from an emotional point of view healthier, because I also believe that emotional hurtful experiences can be very damaging to our system, if we don’t process and heal them one way or the other.
It took us a few months to digest our failed IVF attempts, before we could wrap our thoughts and brain around adoption. I reflected during this time many experiences I had with kids throughout my life. I did once volunteer work, it was after-care at a school and the kids I watched were 3-4 years old. I felt so close to them during this time that I could have taken all of them home with me. Remembering this caring feeling comforted me, because one of my biggest fears was. What if I don’t bond with the child, because it isn’t my own flesh and blood? I opened up to a friend about this and she said: “Birgit, look how people love their pets, they would do anything for them and animals don’t even look like humans…That really resonated with me. I know a lot of people who would do anything for their pets and it really helped me to calm my fear in that matter.
Another burden came up for me when we started to fill out the adoption paper work, we were asked for references from friends and family. For whatever reason it frustrated me…Why do we need the input of our family and friends in order to build our family…Our friends and family don’t need to consult us either before they decide to have another baby….My husband on the other hand loved the idea that they are involved. I admired him for that perspective. I did not like how I felt about it. I guess I wished for more privacy. However what had helped me change my perspective was hearing that the agency needed this information, because it had helped them in the past to catch people who signed up for adoption for the wrong reasons, such as kids traffic etc. When I heard this it absolutely diminished my own “privacy concern”. If this procedure prevents that the wrong people adopt then they can ask us anything. I will be open like a book.
So there were many burdens to overcome in the beginning; the questions of others and their concerns, common myths and our own fears let alone the paper work, FBI screenings etc. before we even started being in the adoptive parents pool.
It is a huge decision to take. It at least seems like it in the beginning. The day you will hold your baby in your arms all your fears and questions will fade and normal parenting questions will come up instead. Questions every new parent goes through. It just feels very natural.
I often forget that we adopted. I was recently at the pediatrician office to get our son’s eyes checked and they asked me, if my husband and I wear glasses and I answered with a straight: “No I don’t, but my husband does”. When the nurse kept asking further questions a voice inside of me popped up and said: “Do you really think it is relevant here, whether you or Andy are wearing glasses??”….I paused and thought…Oh boy of course not…and I said to the nurse. “If you need any medical background I can get it for you, I would just need to talk to Luca’s birth mom.” I left the office with a smile on my face, not one bit of my fear him not being my flesh and blood turned out to be true. Not in my deepest dreams would I have thought that it felt so naturally being his mother.
A holistic doctor said to me once. “We all are moms and dads from the day we are born.” Today being an adoptive mom, I not only understand what he meant, I also feel it!
If you have any questions, please reach out. I know how stressful an adoption journey can be.
Have a great week!