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Adoption Blog: My Paperwork Pregnancies

It’s Not Your Job
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While going through infertility treatments, I began attending a women’s infertility support group where I received helpful, sanity-retaining pieces advice, one of which became my personal infertility mantra: “Avoidance without guilt.” If I chose not to go to a baby shower, I shouldn’t feel guilty. If I didn’t attend a party in fear of being around women discussing pregnancies and children, then it was OK. Using this mantra helped me make some difficult decisions and still feel good about myself.

That mantra was so helpful for me during infertility, I sought out a similar creed to guide me during the adoption process. That mantra was told to me by an adoptive mother and the leader of the Adoption Support Group I was attending: “It’s not your job to save the world.”

My New Mantra
You don’t have to adopt from a country because you know it suffers from a large population of homeless orphans. You don’t have to adopt an older waiting child over a newborn. You don’t have to accept an adoption case where the potential birthmother abused illegal drugs. “It’s not your job to save the world.”

Chances are, reaching the decision to adopt was not a simple journey. I was sick and tired of not having control of my life because doctor appointments dictated my days. Once I chose to adopt I realized that this was finally going to be MY time to make MY decisions to create MY family. I would get the opportunity to make choices about ethnicity, health history, and other factors that I would be unable to control were I a biological mother.

By truly accepting that “It’s not my job to save the world,” I didn’t feel guilty for choosing to adopt a newborn. I didn’t feel guilty designating my preference for a child without certain medical concerns or a complicated family medical history. Even at the hospital, when I met the baby who I hoped would be my son, I was still willing to walk away from the situation if something unforeseeable occurred.

Sticking to My Mantra
I still remember following the potential birthmother’s gurney as she was brought into the OR for her cesarean. I was quietly muttering to myself over and over, “It’s not my job to save the world. It’s not my job to save the world.” No one expected anything but a healthy baby boy, but I had worked in the medical community long enough to know that the unexpected does happen. The baby could have an undetected syndrome or the cord could be wrapped around his neck stopping the flow of oxygen. There could be complications during the delivery to cause life-long medical issues. None of these thoughts were positive, but they were realistic. Luckily he came out perfectly healthy and I was relieved.

I knew my limitations as a first-time mother and accepted them. I selfishly wanted what every parent wants: a healthy baby. Thanks to adoption, I now had the option of walking away from a situation that was overwhelming to me. If I had given birth to a child who had medical issues I, of course, would love and care for that child. I wouldn’t have the choice to say, “Sorry but no. It’s too much for me. I’ll wait for another child.” With adoption I could say those words.

In no way would saying “No” to a child be easy. Yet I had to remember what decisions I had made when I wasn’t emotionally involved with an adoption case. I had to tell myself that raising a child with medical issues beyond my comfort level was not “my job.”  There would be someone else who was more qualified and would want to adopt that child. It would be unfair to that child and to the birthparents if I adopted the child just because I promised I would before the delivery.

Other Opinions
Possibly, I sound like a cold person. It’s fine if you think that. I hear couples in the adoption process say that they will adopt the child that is born no matter what because they committed themselves to that potential birthmother. It is their right to do that. Part of the beauty of adoption is that everyone can make their own decisions on the best way to form their family.

If you are adopting as a couple, then you should discuss this topic with your partner as soon as possible. You could have very different views. Are you adopting for humanitarian reasons to help a homeless child or are you trying to add a child to your family? Are you willing to accept any medical issue that comes your way just as if you were the biological parents?

Maybe after your discussions, you’ll end up using the same mantra that helped me get through my three adoptions. Or possibly you’ll find a different mantra to give you comfort during the difficult decisions you will be making throughout the adoption process. Either way, find some helpful words which you can lean upon to make the process easier.

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Meet the Author

Danielle Pennel

Danielle Pennel


I have recently adopted or am adopting from...
U.S. Newborn, U.S. Newborn

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