Twelve days ago, my husband and I received the most precious gift possible. We were given the honour of becoming parents through adoption.
Our journey to parenthood was long and trying. For years, Dave and I privately navigated our way through the cyclical heartbreak of infertility, living by the thermometer and the calendar, holding each others’ hands through repeated invasive procedures and choking down the bitter pill of bad news from doctors that pointed their pencils at statistical bar graphs and never seemed to look us in the eye. We came to know the pain of grieving the loss of a child that would never exist – one with my husband’s eyes, my smile, and hints of our parents’ faces mixed in – and even though we felt like we were surrounded by friends having babies on all sides, we found that we weren’t alone in our pain. As we started to talk openly about what we were going through, we realized that many of our friends were fighting the same battle. One in six couples, in fact, struggles with infertility. But that’s not something you learn in light conversation, so chances are you may never know which of your six friends is the one feeling that deeply private pain.
I distinctly remember one of my darkest days in the process. It was the moment when we had tried everything – from spending a year being poked with acupuncture needles…to eliminating all chemicals from the house and eating strictly vegan meals from an organic garden we painstakingly planted in the backyard…to having my husband inject me in the stomach with a syringe full of hormones in a random mall parking lot in the passenger seat of the car between tour dates…to exhausting our hard-earned savings on medical procedures that only left us right back where we started: childless. We had spoken about our plan to adopt, but in that moment, sitting on the bedroom floor after coming home from our last second-opinion doctor appointment, I couldn’t bear the thought that I would never know the feeling of carrying a child in my body. I completely broke down.
But when one of us had a weak moment, somehow the other always managed to be strong. So Dave looked at me and said, “You’re right. We’ll never get to experience what having our own biological child is like. But we WILL get to experience other things. They will be things most people don’t get to experience – things people don’t talk about – but they will be beautiful just the same. We can’t compare our journey to everyone else’s. We have our own journey, and it’s happening this way for a reason. We have to trust it.”
And he was right. Because now, sitting here with my daughter next to me on the couch, I can’t even count all of the unspeakably, uniquely beautiful things we’ve been able to experience.
We’ve walked into a room at the adoption agency to meet face-to-face for the first time with the young, very pregnant birth mother – and equally young birth father – who would choose us to parent their baby. We’ve spent time getting to know both of them and sharing the hopes and dreams all four of us have for how this baby’s life should be. We’ve seen the power of a parent’s love overcome biology in order to give their child the life they envision for her and give the gift of a family to someone who couldn’t have one. We’ve shaken the hands of the extended birth family in the hospital waiting room, answering their tentative, shy questions and sharing the story of our journey with them. We’ve sat in the hospital room watching the fetal heart monitor beep, and holding the birth mother’s hand side-by-side with the birth father as she gritted her teeth through the contractions when the epidural didn’t take properly.
We’ve held baby Alexa minutes after her birth, and then passed her around to be held by each of the extended biological family members who were present to welcome her arrival. We’ve left our own hospital room empty for most of the 48 hours before discharge in order to share a room with Alexa’s birth parents – 2 moms and 2 dads taking turns holding her, admiring her, feeding her and loving her. And we have witnessed that extraordinary young couple gather all the strength they could muster in order to walk out the doors of the hospital lobby after placing their baby into our arms. That is trust. That is generosity. That is love beyond what I ever could have imagined.
And it doesn’t stop there. From crib to stroller to car seat to clothes, our friends and neighbours have rallied around us during our “holy cow, we’re getting a baby in 3 weeks” expectancy period and supplied us with hand-me-down nursery equipment fit for a queen. They’ve set up this fundraising site to help offset the costs of Alexa’s adoption. Not only that, but a couple of dear friends have even donated their precious supplies of pumped breast milk to ensure that baby Alexa will have all the antibodies she needs to grow up strong and healthy.
We feel incredibly honoured to be able to parent this magical little being who is bringing so much joy into our lives. This journey that began years ago with our first “baby steps” towards adoption is teaching us more about open-hearted, unselfish love than we could have dreamed. An open adoption means that Alexa will have continued contact with her birth parents as she grows up surrounded by people who love her. She will know her story, and the inevitable questions that go along with it will never go unanswered. Thank you, Kaitlin and Brandon, for the privilege of raising our daughter, Alexa. She’s the joy of our lives and your selfless act has given us the greatest gift anyone could ever give.
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