All throughout my childhood and adult life, I thought I wanted to become pregnant someday and give birth to a child. In my mind, it was a rite of passage of sorts, and my culture affirmed this. The message I received, and believed, was that to be a woman, fully, is to give birth. Without medication, if you’re hardcore enough. Because I loved children and wanted to be a mother, I assumed this was true for me. It made sense in some ways, and I never really questioned it, except to wonder where that left the women who chose not to be mothers. Still, of the set who desired motherhood, pregnancy was what was expected as the first choice. The women I knew who adopted children either had given birth first or had tried very hard to become pregnant and had come to adoption as a second choice. Pregnancy seemed both the normal and expected route to beginning one’s family, and so I’d start with that, too.
But then I got pregnant and miscarried, and everything changed for me.
The pregnancy happened simply enough, but it took me awhile to take the test. It was the holiday season, and I simply lost track of time. When I finally did take the test, and it was positive, I felt happy, but at the same time like this wasn’t what was meant to be. Three days later, during a bout of food poisoning, I started spotting. A visit to the ER confirmed what I suspected, that I was miscarrying. I made an appointment with my midwife a for a few days later, and she examined me and told me what to expect. She instructed me to have blood drawn that day and a week later to make sure that my hormones were returning to normal. I went in for a series of blood draws and one further exam, and that was that.
A few days after the last blood draw, my midwife called me with what she felt was very good news. “It’s clear that you are capable of getting pregnant,” she said, “and you are healthy. You’re free to try again, and my bet is that by this time next year, we’ll be delivering your baby.” In that moment, I suddenly knew that wasn’t what I wanted at all. That maybe it had never been what I wanted, but so many people told me that I should want it that I believed them. The truth was that my miscarriage didn’t break my heart, that the grief that people were certain I was bottling up just didn’t exist. There was no relief in hearing that we had the all clear to try for pregnancy again. In my heart, I didn’t care at all about getting pregnant. That realization was stunning at freeing all at the same time. Looking back, I recognize now that I never had strong feelings about getting pregnant, but I always cared deeply about pursuing adoption.
On a beautiful spring day, my husband and I sat on a coffee shop patio, and I broached the subject of building our family. I told him my feelings about pregnancy, that it didn’t matter to me, and that I very much wanted to adopt. I asked him if he felt strongly about having a child that shared our DNA; if he wanted it, I was willing to try again. Much to my relief and delight, he revealed that it didn’t matter to him either. He wanted a family, and he wanted to adopt, and if I didn’t want to get pregnant, it wasn’t important to him. Our course was set. That same evening, I started researching adoption agencies and programs. We were done with trying to get pregnant. We were all in for adoption, and we were giddy with anticipation.
We joke now that our DNA isn’t that special, and we really don’t need to be passing it on. We point to our daughter and smile, saying, “Honestly, do you think our genes would produce a child that captivating and attractive?” People misunderstand and try to reassure us that our genes would produce fine children, probably even cute ones. But I look at my daughter and think, “I could never have wished for anything better.” And I believe with all my heart that is true, and that it will prove true this second time around, too.