In my childhood, I knew several adoptive families, and also a few children who were in the foster care system. At some point I started thinking that if there were children who needed families, that what I wanted to do when I grew up was to be a family to some of those children. As time went by, and I became a junior high news junkie, I honed in on the stories of children who had been hurt, who had been abandoned, who had no family and no one to help them heal and grow. In particular, there is one girl who stands out to me still, though I do not remember her name.
My mother was an elementary school teacher, and there was a girl in her class who was in foster care. My mom never told me this girl’s story beyond that she did not have a permanent family, but I knew that she spoke often with the girl’s foster mother on the phone, and that one day she said, “I wish we could adopt her and be her family, but we can’t.” I didn’t understand then why that was true, why we couldn’t just bring her into our family, but future family events proved that my mother’s instincts were right, and for reasons that had nothing to do with this girl, it simply wouldn’t have been good for her or for us. Still, I look back and wonder, “Was there anything we could have done for her, something more to give her a permanent family?” Maybe she did end up being adopted; I will likely never know. But I do know that it grieves me still that she was waiting. She was a kid, like me. She was a kid, who was a good kid, who didn’t deserve to be left without something so basic as a permanent family.
As I grew up, I heard more stories of children without families, saw on television the empty eyes and coping behavior of Romanian orphans raised in orphanages filled with squalor. Of all the images, those hit me the hardest. But it wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that it occurred to me that I could be a family to a child who didn’t have one regardless of marital status. I read an article written by a woman who became a single mother to an older girl from Siberia, a girl who was considered less desirable for adoption and would be in danger of aging out of the system, without a family and saddled with a vulnerability that would make her easy prey to traffickers. I knew then that this was the road for me. Something clicked when I read this woman’s story, and I realized that whether or not I married, whether or not I ever became anything professionally other than a nanny, I could do this. My long term goal became to reach a place where I was financially stable enough and had the support system required to be an adoptive parent. I hoped that I would marry and raise a family with someone, but even if that never worked out, I knew this was something that I would pursue regardless.
Thus when Jarod and I met, it was one of the first serious topics I broached. I wanted to be an adoptive mother, and if he wasn’t interested in building a family via adoption, then we simply weren’t a good match for each other. Jarod hadn’t had the exposure I had to adoption, but the more we talked, the more he felt like it was a good idea. By the time we married, our tentative plan was to have one child via pregnancy and then adopt at least twice. But tentative is just that, and our plans changed. In the summer of 2009, just shy of our second anniversary, we ditched the pregnancy plan and began the paperwork for our first adoption.