I was watching a British sitcom years ago when a line of dialogue rocked me to the core. In the scene a bitter old woman in a nursing home is speaking to her niece, who was about to have a baby. The niece asked her aunt why she never had a family of her own. The old woman replied that she had been denied admission to the most inexclusive club, the club of motherhood. I was living those words.
I met my husband through a summer job when I was in college. After love and marriage, I thought the next step would be the baby carriage. Fast-forward through doctors, clomiphene, mood swings, unplanned road trips when said doctor moved, IUIs, an HSG, losing weight, and just feeling exposed, physically and emotionally, over and over. Eventually we moved on from science to old wives’ tales — temps, egg whites (you know what I’m talking about), charts, baby dust, taking Mucinex tablets like they were Flintstones vitamins — trying anything I could to conquer my infertility. I finally saw a newspaper ad for an adoption seminar. It was informational, but I looked at my husband, burst into tears, and said, “Can we still just try? I’m not ready to give up.”
Life goes on. You have to. There are new jobs and other changes that won’t wait. The cruel part? Watching the life you were supposed to have being lived by everyone around you — baby showers and cute, little ultrasound pictures being thrust in your face all the time. They would say, “Oh, we weren’t even trying yet!” or, better yet, the woman with 20-plus kids would insist that it was God’s will. Try having just one miscarriage and being told it is “God’s will.”
Fast-forward again. I was working for my state’s Department of Health and Human Resources. I called myself the Welfare Warrior. I loved it, at first. We were still trying, but without any outside assistance. Then I got a client who admitted trying to have a baby, even though she was relying on food stamps and Medicaid. Then I had another and another. It was like some divine prank.
Almost every day I ran into a woman who worked down the hall. Eventually, I learned her name, and that she worked in Home Finding or Foster/Adopt. I don’t know how many times I’d walked by her office door before I stopped in one day and asked, “When is your next class for people who want to foster and adopt?” Without consulting my better half, I signed us up. That is the best decision I have ever made, aside from choosing to marry my husband.
Life is not without its twisted irony, though. At the time my stepfather was losing his fight with colon cancer. My mother had been his constant companion through many journeys, and we were all trying to be with him in these last days. During all of the chaos surrounding this wretched illness, one Saturday he noticed that my husband and I were not at our foster/adopt class. That was the first and only nod we got from him, his way of telling us to keep pursuing our dream of having a family. He passed away late one Friday night, and the next morning we were at our class, just as he would have wanted.
About a month after we’d completed our homestudy, we got a call about an emergency placement for a 24-month-old African-American boy. I stuttered and said I would have to talk to my husband. I was numb. My husband said, “Why not? It is what we have been waiting for, right?” That was all it took. This little old man in the body of a chubby, brown boy arrived at our door on a Friday. He came with a Lightning McQueen blanket, a snack, and the clothes on his back. He toddled into our home and, as he looked around, his first words were, “Oh, wow!” That was the moment I knew I had met my son.