"Giving Me Her Quilt — and Her Dream"

When my dreams of finding someone and starting a family stalled, I began to explore adoption to fulfill my great-grandmother's dreams of a little girl.

A mother and her daughter, after making the decision to explore adoption

My grandmother started the quilt when she was pregnant with my aunt. After my aunt was born, my grandmother hadn’t had time to finish the quilt, so it sat in the closet with the other treasures.

My brother and my cousins either had boys or weren’t planning to have children anytime soon, so my grandmother handed me the quilt and said, “I’m counting on you to have a girl.”

I was honored. My cousin Beth was older, and the daughter of the daughter for whom the quilt had been started. I had assumed it would go to her. She had married young and already had two fine sons. Giving the pink quilt to me seemed to be Grandma’s way of saying, “You have a contribution to make, too. And you can give the family something we don’t have — a girl.” I was still in graduate school and figured I had plenty of time to work on that.

I finished graduate school, got a job, got an apartment, and thought, “OK, time to find someone and start a family.” Why is that so easy for some people? Why was it so hard for me? Finally, I decided to explore adoption. All along I’d been thinking I could adopt if things didn’t work out. And things had definitely not worked out.

So I found an agency and started exploring the options. It was around that time that I asked my mom about finishing the quilt. I’d carried it with me through all the jobs, the apartments, and the years, always intending to finish it. But I’m not the seamstress my mom is, and I knew she’d have more fun working on it than I would. And that would make the quilt more special. So I told my parents I was looking into adoption (they were all for it) and asked Mom to finish the quilt.

The U.S. State Department shut down adoptions from the first country I looked into, Guatemala, before I even had a chance to submit my application. So I did more research and decided to adopt from Vietnam. This time I got my application in. About two months later, that government shut down adoptions to the United States.

I was at sea for a while. The finished quilt sat in the spare room, taunting me as I tried to find another option. In the meantime, my grandmother died peacefully in her sleep at the age of 93, still without a female great-grandchild. But it wasn’t just for Grandma that I wanted a baby. I wanted one, too. I was coming to terms with the possibility of never getting married. But the idea of never being a mother was more than I could face.

I looked at in vitro, surrogacy, and private adoption, but decided to get licensed as a foster parent. Some of the training classes were heartbreaking, especially the interviews with kids who had aged out of the system. I reluctantly put away my dreams of an infant girl and focused on being open to any child who became available.

Meanwhile, my youngest cousin got married. When he and his wife had a baby girl, I thought about giving them the pink quilt, to keep it in the family.

I’m glad I didn’t.

About 18 months ago I got “the call.” An infant girl. I couldn’t believe it. It took all this time to get exactly what I’d wanted all along.

Today the pink quilt hangs on the wall of my daughter’s room. I named her after my grandmother.

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