“Fall in love. Get married. Have babies.” No one ever told me that was how my life would go but somehow, I figured that’s how it would look.
I grew up in a very Christian community in a neighborhood full of families with children my age. Most households had more than two children and most families consisted of a stay-at-home mom. My whole life I felt like I was preparing to follow the same pattern, the same mold. I couldn’t wait to grow up, move away, and start a family of my own.
My husband and I met in a college math class and I was instantly smitten. Not long after, we started dating and eventually a wedding date was set. We both came from a family of six and we eagerly awaited growing our little family of two. The plan was to graduate from college and have a million babies. (Okay maybe not a million… but somewhere in that ballpark.) Unfortunately, months and years went by and the babies never came. We had joined the club of infertility.
At first the comments came in the form of jokes. “You two sure would make cute babies… when are you gonna get on that?” As time went on, people seemed to be more direct, “What are you waiting for?” Our situation- both of us having graduated from college, my husband with his Masters, being married for several years, and both working full time- confused people. “Why don’t they have kids by now?” We wondered the same thing.
Time continued and we found a new pattern to follow, it was one of infertility. We tried to get pregnant for a year, then visited with a health care provider. We started with Clomid then Femara. When our provider could no longer help us, we were referred to a fertility clinic. We ran the bloodwork and did all the tests and procedures recommended. We moved forward with our first, second, third, and fourth IUI. Eventually, we would sit across the room from the Fertility Specialist and learn that IVF was our best chance of conception.
The “pattern” was to push forward but something in our hearts held us back. We never felt quite right about pursuing IVF. Again, this raised comments and questions from the community around us. “Why don’t you just adopt?” “What about Foster Care?” “Do you need a surrogate?” The truth is, our hearts needed to come to their own decision in their own time. We struggled with the outside noise of suggestions, recommendations, and unsolicited advice. We questioned if opening up about our journey was the right choice after all.
Our “pattern” started to look more like what a child would do with a box of crayons and a white wall. There was nothing “traditional” about our story and we felt like we no longer fit in our community. Most of our friends had kids. Most childless couples were newly married. We were somewhere in between. It felt strange when the two of us bought a four bedroom home across the street from a child friendly park. It felt strange when just the two of us showed up to church and even family functions. Our “mold” had been broken.
Our decision to adopt came suddenly but not quickly. The idea had been tucked away in the corner of our minds for a long time. There it sat until it suddenly felt right. We knew it felt right because both my husband and I were on the exact same page at the exact same time and the process no longer scared us but excited us. We were, once again, starting with a new “pattern” but this time was different. This time we weren’t going to follow anyone else’s pattern, we were going to make our own.
When our decision to have an open adoption was questioned, we reminded ourselves of our unique pattern. When our hearts were grieving over a difficult disrupted adoption, our unique pattern came to mind once more. When we blindly stepped into a second adoption situation with little to no background information, we knew our “mold” was one like no other and our “pattern” was one that could not be replicated.
Close up, our lives may look unruly and chaotic but when we zoom out, we see that patterns, texture, and depth do exist. However, they are unique to each individual. We don’t have to mimic the lines and shapes we see in the lives of those around us. We define our own tradition, we create our own mold.
“Fall in love. Get married. Lose hope. Travel. Find Hope. Experience heartbreak. Discover strength. Get lost. Adopt.”
What a beautiful, and much more interesting, pattern our lives have followed. This incredible sequence is what built our family into who we are today and for that, I will always be grateful.