Recently my nephew, Tanner, asked me why I didn't just want to "have a baby in my belly". Although it may be a bit complicated, there is an answer to that question. I realized that I needed to get these reasons out of my head and onto paper somewhere because I want to share them with Mia someday.
This is a very long and deeply personal story. So if you're up for it, grab a snack and settle in. But please, no flames. These are my personal choices. One person's way may not be right for someone else. I debated sharing my story in this forum where so many can read it. But in the end, I decided that this is my blog, about me and the choices I've made and my journey to my daughter. So here it is.....
I got divorced when I was 29 years old. During that year, there was a newspaper columnist from our local paper that did a series about adopting her daughter from China. In the series, she mentioned that one of the members of her travel group was a single woman. This was the first time I'd heard that international adoption was a possibility for me. I guess I never realized single people could adopt before reading these articles.
After my divorce, I made a decision that if I was still single at 35, I'd pursue motherhood on my own. Now the original plan was that I'd try to get pregnant for a year and if unsuccessful, at age 36, move on to adoption. I knew if I were to adopt it would be from China. The newspaper article had already planted that seed in my heart.
Obviously, since I'd be single, the pregnancy plan would mean I'd be using donor sperm. I knew I wouldn't do anything more medically invasive than insemination for two reasons. One, I don't have any insurance coverage for this plan so all expenses would be out of pocket. I knew I didn't want to pay for IVF, etc... because there still was no guarantee of a baby in the end. Secondly, I'm a huge believer in fate and destiny. I believe that everything happens for a reason, even if it doesn't make sense to us in that moment. I believed if it was meant for me to be pregnant and have a biological child then it would happen.
So the years pass. I fall in love again. Then I get sick and nearly die. I work my way back through a long, difficult recovery. My relationship ends and my heart is broken again. After a while I recover from that, too. And then I realize I'm about to turn 34. It's time to re-evaluate my life and my plan. I realize I'm not going to meet someone and fall in love before I turn 35. In fact, I decide I'm really not ready to go there again anyway.
It's time to stop planning and start moving forward because the one sure thing I'd learned with my illness is that time is not guaranteed. I knew I needed to start living my life more fully. The one thing I'd wanted most in my life was to be a mother someday. So what was I waiting for?
I knew there were long waiting lists for China adoption because of the "singles" quotas. In January, just a couple weeks shy of my 34th birthday, I attend an adoption fair to put my name on some waiting lists with the intention still of adoption as Plan B. I found a very nice agency that invited me to a seminar the next weekend. They tell me their list moves quickly and they believe they will get to me in August to begin my paperchase. I freak out! That's not the plan. I won't even be trying to get pregnant for maybe another year. I wouldn't even need Plan B for awhile yet.
And this is where I begin to start being led down a different path. But I didn't recognize it yet.
I decide to go to their seminar. As soon as I walk in the door, I almost turn around and run. The room is filled with couples. I felt out of place. Like they're all thinking I don't belong there. I'm uncomfortable. But I stay. They turn out to be very warm and welcoming. No judgement at all over my single status. The agency rep shows a "Gotcha" video (for those unfamiliar with adoption "Gotcha Day" is the day when your child is placed in your arms) and I start to cry. I wasn't prepared for such a strong emotional reaction.
Before I jump ahead, some explanation is needed. This is very deep and personal... but here it is. With no exaggeration, I was very literally at death's door during my illness. (Click here if you aren't familiar with my story.)
As soon as I came off the ventilator, I was inundated with statements such as "It's a miracle" and "There's a reason you were spared because God has plans for you" and "It wasn't your time because your work here isn't done". Etc, etc... you get the idea. The statements were made by people with good intentions. But I think anyone who goes through a near-death experience has inner conflict afterwards that they have to work through. I felt a lot of pressure to figure it all out. Pressure that I put on myself.
What WAS my purpose? Why was I spared? When others just as deserving or more so even, are not? I felt guilty and conflicted. Now don't get me wrong. I was VERY grateful to be alive. But at the same time, I struggled with a lot of internal, emotional issues. I felt a deep need to figure out what it was I was meant to do. What my purpose was. Why was I here? Why was I allowed to live when I came so close to dying? I felt obligated to pay it back. This life I was given.
So I'm sitting in this seminar listening to an adoptive mother of two beautiful, little Chinese girls talk about her experiences. I can't remember the words she said but I know they touched me. Right then and there... my life changed.
Suddenly, I get it! At that moment, I can only say I had what one could call a spiritual awakening. What Oprah would call an "A-ha moment". A light bulb went on somewhere in my head and I realized what my purpose was.
I literally felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. Like the clouds had parted, the sun was shining down, and the choir was singing "Hallelujah". Like that moment when you can exhale, relax and let it all go. I felt calm, peaceful and absolutely clear.
This is what I was supposed to do. I was supposed to adopt a little girl from China. That's why I'm still alive. Because she's out there waiting for me.
I get emotional now sitting here writing this because I can't even really find the words to explain how I felt but in that moment..... I knew. It was just this sudden sense of clarity. This knowing that my daughter was in China. All the anxiety of trying to figure out how to make my life mean something after nearly dying... it was gone. I felt totally at peace.
Well, you'd think that was enough, right? Nope. I'm way too practical and logical for that. So I go home and I start to question this. I literally lock myself in the house for the rest of the weekend to think this through. I make lists of pros and cons for both options. Pregnancy or adoption? Seriously, I did.
I came to some realizations. I decide I'm not really sure if I want to put myself through a pregnancy. I'm not as physically strong as I'd like to be. I still suffer from a little PTSD issues when it comes to hospitals. I'm very mistrustful of doctors now. I don't know if I can emotionally handle putting myself through a bunch of medical procedures again. Hell, I even had a little meltdown when I had to go to the dentist recently. I don't want to be in pain again. It's all still too fresh for me.
And here is another truth that's hard for this strong, independent woman to admit. I was really in love with the last guy. I thought he was "the One". I thought the dream might come true with him. You know... the kids, house, family, all of it. I had to be honest with myself and admit that I didn't really want to be pregnant alone anymore.
At the age of 29, my plan sounded good. When I was still pissed off about my divorce, men in general and didn't believe in true love anymore. But now it was time to be real. Things had changed in my heart and in my head over the last few years. I realized that pregnancy was ideally an experience I wanted to share with a partner. I wanted to create a child out of my love for someone else. Not in a medical environment. And not alone.
Now, all my friends and family assured me I wouldn't be alone if this is what I wanted to do. But the reality was at the end of the day... it was just me. They wouldn't be there to rub my back in the middle of the night when it hurt or go get me ice cream when I had a craving.
And what if there were complications? What if I had to be on bedrest? I'm the sole provider here so how would that work? And who would take care of me? I really, really started to have some serious doubts with pregnancy as Plan A.
So I asked myself "Is it really about experiencing pregnancy and childbirth? About having a biological link to my child? Is that really necessary or is it just simply about becoming a mother?"
I realized it was just about being a mother and parenting a child .... no matter which path got me there.
But I was still conflicted. This was a really big decision and I needed to be sure. My reality is that this may be my one shot at being a mother. I may only be able to care for one child. I'm not sure I could financially afford two. I'm not sure that as a single parent I could divide myself between two children enough so they both get what they need. Sure I might still meet Mr Right and I don't know what the future holds and blah blah blah..... but the one thing I know FOR SURE is I may only get one chance at motherhood. Everything else is "what if".
So am I okay with giving up on the pregnancy idea and the biological child? I think I am but I was also scared that someday I might have regrets. I was so torn. I realized that this decision was too big for me. So I cried and I prayed. I'm not a very religious person but very much a spiritual one. And after my near death experience, I'd gotten very comfortable with having conversations with God. So I begged Him to give me a sign because I didn't know which way to go.
Over the next few days, I got so many signs that I could no longer ignore the fact that I was being led to China. And then Plan B became Plan A. Read on for the signs.........