Ten years ago, I was facing a major challenge to my fertility. During a procedure to remove what we thought was a cancerous mass on my left ovary, the surgeons removed the entire ovary and part of my Fallopian tube. The very good news was that I had endometriosis, not cancer. The bad news was the surgery would make it very difficult for me to get pregnant the old-fashioned way.
My husband and I consulted a fertility specialist who assured us he could help, but I’d had enough of being poked, prodded, scanned and tested. My body hadn’t felt like my own for months and I was pretty sure if anyone came near me with a pelvic ultrasound wand or a needle, I was going to punch them in the throat.
The cancer misdiagnosis and subsequent surgery and recovery had sent us both for a loop. My hormones and mental health were a mess, so my husband made me promise not to think about children for at least six months until our lives had returned to normal.
I gave him three. Then one night over drinks I announced I wanted to adopt. Four years later, we welcomed a beautiful four-year old girl into our lives. And three years after that, another one joined us. Now we are a family of four and I couldn’t be happier with the path I took to parenthood.
If you are struggling to get pregnant and considering your options which may include fertility treatments, in vitro fertilization, surrogacy, or adoption, you have some very difficult and personal choices to make. A lot of people feel very strongly about creating a child that shares their DNA. Many women want the experience of pregnancy and childbirth. I did not, so the decision to adopt was much easier for me. I just wanted to be a mother and I didn’t care how I got there.
If you’re facing infertility you have a tough road ahead. Everyone has different desires and the right to make different choices but I’m here to wave the adoption flag and tell you that, for us, it was the best thing we ever did. Here are just a few reasons why.
Every child deserves to be loved. Period. End of Story. I strongly reject the hero label well-intentioned people like to put on adoptive parents, but the reality is, you’re changing someone’s life. In Canada there are 30,000 children in government care awaiting a forever family. This is not their fault. Due to circumstances beyond their control these kids have been denied the chance to grow up in a permanent, loving home. Don’t adopt to be a hero, don’t adopt because you think the child will be forever grateful, do it because love and permanence are something no child should be denied.
Family is about so much more than biology. And yes, you WILL love your adopted child like your own. I have nothing to compare it to but I know I couldn’t possibly love my girls any more than I do. I didn’t carry them, birth them, nurse them, or change their diapers but the first time we met, I knew I was meant to be part of their lives. This doesn’t always happen, but our bond was instant. The instinct to mother is not driven by biological connection, and neither is love. When I look at my kids I see my kids, full stop.
Adopt a child, or children, and you will find strength and resilience you never knew you had. Adoption is not for the faint of heart and while it’s the best thing I’ve ever done it’s also the hardest. Dealing with attachment, loss, lack of medical histories, confusing behaviours and relationships (or lack thereof) with birth parents isn’t easy. But neither is raising a birth child. All children present us with challenges and test us in different ways. There is no guarantee a birth child will be the healthy, obedient fantasy child we all hope for. Adopted kids will ask for love in very unloving ways and when you figure that out and settle into the trenches with them, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish together.
You can blame any negative behaviour on their birth parents. Okay, I’m being cheeky here but so much of what you’ll read about adoption is heavy. Keeping your sense of humour is a critical survival technique, as is whispering “she’s adopted” when your kid melts down in a restaurant because the chicken fingers are too “chickeny.” Laughing your way through difficult times and finding the silver lining when it seems like the world is caving in will help you cope and it will teach your children to do the same.
Adoption is all about the village. It truly does take a village to raise a child and this approach is even more necessary with adopted kids because few parents will have all the skills and tools they need to meet their child’s unique needs. Allowing birth parents, doctors, social workers, teachers, etc. into our children’s lives, and accepting that we don’t have all the answers all of the time, has made our kids’ childhoods richer and reduced the burden on us.
Questions about adoption? DM me anytime on Twitter or Instagram @jennemillard.