I think like most people, our path towards building our family was not a straightforward one. And in the middle of things, I think I became more acutely aware than ever that choice is a heavy word.
We make choices every day. They effect every bit of our lives, some much more than others, some much less. Like what I decided to have for lunch. I don't want to bore you with the choice to buy local, raw-milk cheese versus another brand shipped from Wales, or the effect the milk product would have on my sinuses (grr...). But that choice's effects were pretty minimal, I guess. As opposed to the big decisions/choices we make that effect lots of other people besides ourselves.
When I became ill, I laid aside any thoughts of becoming a mother, even though I was smack dab in the middle of when one is supposed to be "trying." I really did not have a choice, my body decided to make the choice for me. When I started taking the medication necessary to put me back on the road to feeling like a normal person again (whatever that is), the doctors and I talked about the fact that I could not try to get pregnant while on it, and that it actually would compromise my future fertility considerably. I was sad, to say the least. It's funny, because I never had thought about grieving before -- I had grieved, like most people do, when loved ones died. But I had never been conscous of it before. My grieving for the child(ren) we wouldn't have biologically really took me by surprise. I had stopped working long before this because of my health, so I was removed from small children professionally (I taught preschool art), but I found I couldn't be in the presence of anyone under the age of 3 without either becoming angry or incredibly sad. I stuck to the elementary grades, it was emotionally safer for me.
I know that other people have experienced this, I've read innumerable accounts by women much more articulate than I. But I just never expected it. A bit like a punch in the stomach. And my vocation, the job I loved, involved being around small children.
Strangely, I think it ended up making me a better teacher. Detachment was necessary to allow me to function, and that detachment allowed me to view my students more objectively, which I realize is so important in order to accept them for themselves, reserving judgement.
Not quite 5 years have gone by since my diagnosis and recuperation, and now we are in the process of adopting siblings from Ethiopia. Our path here has been circuitous, for sure. We started intending to adopt a child from China. We assumed it would be a girl, we assumed we would wait 6 months after DTC, then travel and become a family. Just when we started the paperwork, China started to slow down. And our agency never responded to our secondary paperwork. Always fearing to be pushy, to go with the flow, yadda, yadda, we let time go by. And found they had just overlooked sending us the next batch of paperwork. By that time I had started to read about other adoption options, and domestic adoption seemed like something we would like. We liked the idea of keeping in contact with the first family; our child would know his/her roots, would have more tools to understand his/her relinquishment. We reconsidered our initial choice. And then the gravity of having the privilege to choose at all struck me to the core. It seemed unfair that we should be able to pick and choose our children's country of origin, when they had no choice at all. When most likely their parents had very little choice when it came to deciding whether or not to parent.
At our agency, we became another family too many. We were discouraged mightily from even applying. I was rudely asked, "well, how long have you been trying?" in the middle of an adoption intro meeting by a sw who I thought should know better. I stammered, "I, I can't try. I'm on medication, I..." And then I realized that I didn't need to lay my body bare in a public forum. Mainly because another sw looked horrified at the other's question. The resulting emails back and forth let us know that we weren't going to be doing this together, we and this particular agency. I was on medication, there were already too many families in the book, ..."have you considered China?"
Too much choice, not enough options. A fresh start was needed.