There are 82 children and sibling groups available for adoption in my state. They range in ages from 4 to 17, with the majority in the early teen range. They’re pretty evenly distributed between males and females, with a slight edge going to the boys. I’ve begun to memorize their names, their faces, their hobbies. Almost every day for weeks, I’ve been scanning through the lists of kids in my state who would like to be adopted.
Just before Christmas, I found out that I would never be able to conceive the child my husband and I were hoping to have. Almost immediately after we shared this news, friends, family, and more than a few readers suggested that we look into adopting a child, giving a child in need a home.
To be honest, adoption is something that my husband and I had already been considering for quite a while. It’s not something I often discussed because I don’t believe that those suffering with infertility should just be pushed towards adoption, as if the two choices are basically the same thing, or could be used as substitutes for one another. Adoption is its own important, complex and wonderful choice.
However, I would be lying if I did not acknowledge that it’s a choice I’m considering with more thoughtfulness ever since I found out that we couldn’t get pregnant. There’s something about the loss of that possible future child that leads me to find solace scrolling through the names and faces of other children, ones that we might have an opportunity to bring into our family.
I don’t like to consider that I’m stalking children on an adoption website, but it’s really the truth. I check in on them, hoping that their names have been removed from the list and that they are on their way to good homes. I worry about how long they were sitting on that list before I started checking in on them.
Most importantly, I imagine their personalities. I imagine being able to help them decorate their new rooms in our new home, choosing colors and themes and furniture. I would just love to be able to tell them that they don’t need to worry, that they’re part of a family that wants to love and support them.
I’m not saying that my husband and I are ready to adopt a child immediately. I think that’s too large of a decision to make when I’m vulnerable and still healing from our recent news. More than anything, I don’t want to rush into such an important life choice without plenty of careful thought and preparation.
At the same time, I cannot help but think about those kids. I can’t help but look at their smiling pictures and think that I could give these children a good, stable home.
For years, when I thought about growing our family, I was focused on pregnancy and babies. I have baby clothes and baby toys still folded neatly in a trunk. I had nursery plans all laid out, and partially purchased. Not being able to get pregnant feels a bit like moving past the baby phase.
I’ve always believed that adoption isn’t a back-up plan. For whatever reason, in my mind, trying to get an infant through a adoption makes it feel like a substitute for getting pregnant. On the other hand, adopting a child that is a bit older, one that I know needs a good home, feels like a different choice entirely. It feels like a step down a different path, one that I’m just beginning to appreciate.
I don’t want to suggest that my latest journey is what any other family should do after they’ve been unsuccessful with fertility treatments. I’m not saying that everyone should go out and start scrolling through their state’s list of children in need of homes. I think that having children, no matter how you do it, is the most personal, emotional choice that we make as human beings. I wouldn’t begin to tell anyone else how they should make that choice for themselves.
I’m not even sure that my compulsive scrolling through children in need of adoption will lead to my husband and I adopting in 2013. That’s a decision that my husband needs to feel sure about. We need to consider our daughter, the effect it will have on her and how we would prepare her for such a situation. Then, there’s the process of actually adopting. This is by no means a definitive action plan for our family.
But it does give me back some hope. Whatever the logic, whatever anyone has to say about it, seeing those kids gives me hope that we will someday get to welcome another person into our family. In the first month since we’ve stopped trying to conceive, I have missed that hope and the feeling like this might be our cycle. Looking at these smiling faces reminds me that there are other options, other chances.
I don’t know where I’m going to go from here. But hopefully, someday, I’ll be able to repay one or more of these children for the hope that they’ve inspired in me.