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Adoption Blog: Inconceivable Family

The Ghost of Birthdays Past
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Last week was my birthday. I remember my birthday from so many years earlier. I remember wishing for a baby and thinking, “By next year, I’ll be a mom.” It was easy to think of a year in advance rather than concentrating on the emptiness of the current situation. For over half a decade the birthday process went on that way. 

Now, here I am with a 19 month old and a 10 month old. It blows my mind that so much has changed. So much of what felt impossible is at my feet. I marvel daily at how I became so fortunate and so close to not having any of this.

At one point, and only one point, in my journey to motherhood did I feel the urge to give up and follow a different path.

Mike and I had been waiting for a year to be chosen by a birth mother. We had long passed the moments of hope and excitement. We didn’t have the feelings of empowerment and enthusiasm about the adoption process that so many of my fellow infertiles talk about when moving off of the treatment path. For us, the entire process from beginning to end had been a frightening leap of faith and, after a year of waiting for a placement, preceded by five years of IVFs and failures, that faith was near extinct.

January 2008 found me cooped up in my house watching another typical New England blizzard blanket the neighborhood. The television streamed school closings and the fire was giving off that familiar comfortable smell of birch burning. With the holiday season once again passed, I sat on the couch with my computer typing thoughts about my life’s path. As I often do, I was writing an email to no one…  just a bunch of my emotions pouring out into cyberspace where I would not be judged me for my words of self-pity and self-loathing. Except for one thing—I addressed the email to the counselor whom we had turned to once we gave up on our dreadful agency. The agency had taken $10,000 and given us not even a glimmer of a connection; we were hopeless. When I turned my energy to our new counselor I was once again renewed with confidence that something would come through for us. It was easier to blame a bad agency than to see ourselves as potentially undesirable.

Yet there we were—a year after our home study, and still no birth moms had selected us. Mike and I had discussed this possibility but never did I imagine it would come true. Here was the bold statement. We would not allow our relationship to be defined as the couple who tried to have kids their entire lives. Yet there we were. We had been together for nearly 12 years and nearly 6 of those had been spent trying to have a family. It was decided then that if nothing materialized by the anniversary of the day we met, we would forego any further efforts.  At that point, we would have spent half of our lives together in pain, and we couldn’t imagine continuing on that path as a healthy way to build a strong marriage.

As I sat on that couch typing out the unintended email, the idea that we were in the homestretch to loneliness loomed over my head. Questions bubbled from dark places within me: Who was I if I wasn’t going to be someone’s mom? What would my life look like if it didn’t involved being a parent? How could I face my students everyday knowing that I would never have a child of my own to teach? Could our marriage survive the depression that I knew I was about to experience? Would I regret having made the choice to abandon this calling? I poured my heart out without editing. As tears streamed down my face I heard my dog scratch at the door to come in from the cold. The wind from the blustery night blew out the candles on the kitchen table, reminding me of so many birthday wishes that would not be fulfilled. When I returned to my computer, my cat was curled up on the heat of the keyboard.

“Great,”  I thought, “I’m already one of those cat-people who never had kids.”

I pushed her aside to find my writing gone, sent inadvertently to the counselor whom I had already overburdened through a series of desperate phone calls and emails. It was something you’d seen on television. I pushed every possible button hoping to retrieve the material. It was no use. A woman I barely knew and the last person I’d want to think I was a lunatic was going to be receiving a message where I questioned whether I was really meant to be a mom. Certainly I had nailed my own coffin.

And now, as my birthday has come and gone, I recall that night not so long ago when things were at their darkest and my heart ached for a wish that would not come. This year my birthday was spent cleaning the house, wiping poop off tiny bums, and making dinner. When I opened my gift from the girls, it was a day at a spa where I could relax and get away from “it all.” It was an interesting gift, given that I would never ever want to get away from any of it again.

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Meet the Author

Jenna Nadeau

Jenna Nadeau

New Hampshire

I have recently adopted or am adopting from...
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