Recently an AFTH adoptive parent, Sherri, sent us an original piece she wrote about her adoption journey titled “She Grew in My Heart.” We felt it was a perfect story to share with our followers. Enjoy!
I’ve never been pregnant. In more than five years of trying, I’ve never even had a confirmed pregnancy. I can only imagine how it must feel to see the plus sign on the pee stick, or get the phone call from the doctor. And I have no answer to the question “how did you tell your family?”. So, OK, now that that’s out of the way, on the plus side I’ve never had morning sickness, hemorrhoids, contraction pain and all of the other glamorous parts of pregnancy that others have endured.
Miraculously, even though I’ve had no baby grow in my belly, I have a smart, quirky, beautiful, spunky, funny, loving two year old daughter Olivia. She’s adopted. She grew in my heart.
It’s pretty safe to say most people wanting kids expect the traditional route will get them there, and thankfully it often does. Unless a person has a diagnosed reason, or knows going in they don’t want to get pregnant, adoption is probably not on the radar in the early days. That was the case for my husband and I too. We met when we were 30, got married at 33, took a year to enjoy newlywedhood and started trying when I was just about 35. Pretty old by a uterus’s perspective…I didn’t realize that at the time, and couldn’t change it anyway. But after three years of trying, including three rounds of fertility treatment, we still weren’t parents even though every test we’d taken showed no reason why.
So in February 2012, we turned to adoption. This was a really bittersweet choice, because we were essentially closing the door to a biological child. Adoption is a blessing to people who’ve struggled with the “classic” path, but it signifies a major loss too. Little did I know when we started our journey that our loss would also be our most incredible gain.
But it sure did take a lot to get there. While still mourning the idea of a biological child, we were making major decisions like international vs. domestic, agency vs. attorney, private vs. open. We were researching the effects of drugs, alcohol and mental health history on a developing fetus. We were discussing what races and ethnicities we’d consider. We were saving every penny, dime and dollar we had. We were completing massive amounts of paperwork and preparing a book of our life story.
On August 22, 2012, we were officially on the “list” waiting for a birth family – our baby – to find us. While we waited, I became consumed with researching baby stuff. I picked the color for the nursery, chose furniture, started a wish list at Babies R’Us. I didn’t care about superstition. Filling my head with these things helped me feel closer to my baby, even though at the time I didn’t know her.
Then, on October 4, 2012, we got an email. We’d only been waiting 6 weeks so it didn’t occur to me at first that my life was about to change. But this was the day we first heard about Olivia. Her birth mother found our profile online and really liked us. It was a Friday and she wanted to take the weekend to be sure but in my heart, that’s the day we became Olivia’s parents.
In so many ways, we were SO lucky. Olivia’s birth mother is an amazing, brave woman who did no drugs, drank no alcohol, took her vitamins, saw her OB-GYN and made the most selfless choice in her situation. She wanted us in the delivery room and because of that, we were there for Olivia’s first cry on October 25, 2012, we saw her get weighed and measured while my husband whispered “ten fingers, ten toes” and I was the first person to cover her with kisses and hug her close skin-to-skin. She has been with us every single second since the day she was born. We finalized her adoption on June 7, 2013.
Olivia didn’t grow inside of me. But she’s filled my insides with such a powerful love that leaves no doubt in my mind; we made the right choice in surrendering to what nature intended for us and waiting for her to find us. Biology aside, she is mine and she’s very much a part of me. And while I may not have carried her in the traditional sense, our journey – from the first meeting with our adoption agency to the moment she was placed in my arms – was nine months.