our adoption story (part 1): why we chose adoption

This is a somewhat personal post about our journey to choosing adoption. It’s pretty long, so bear with me. Please be kind.

In our last monthly financial update, I announced that Mr. Smith and I were in the process of adopting a child. Throughout the research process, it was hard to find people who were willing to share their story and the ins and outs of their adoption process. We went into it with lots of questions and lots of anxiety. It is my hope that other potential adoptive families might have some of their fears and/or anxieties lightened by learning about our story. To that end, I am planning a series of posts. I don’t know how long the series will be, but I can assure you of a few things: (1) My blog is not turning into an adoption blog or a mommy blog. While both of these are and will be facets of my life, they are not the sole purpose of my writing. (2) I will be as transparent as possible. If you have question, just ask in the comments section or drop me an email through the contact form.

If you asked me five years ago if Mr. Smith and I were going to have children, I would have emphatically told you “No!” There were lots of reasons that I gave depending on who was asking. Sometimes, the answer was “Now just isn’t the time.” This, of course, left the door open to new possibilities but also acknowledged that Mr. Smith and I were first in graduate school, then working towards credentials and finishing Ph.D. comps, and then working in a full-time tenure-track job. “Now just isn’t the time” really meant, our life is full, we don’t have space, and we don’t want anything to change.

Other times, the answer was “We can’t have children.” Shortly after getting married, Mr. Smith and I tried to get pregnant. I had gone off the pill and knew that it could take a while for my cycle to go back to normal. I also knew that my cycle was not what one would typically classify as “normal.” After six months of no period and negative pregnancy tests, I went to see my doctor. She ran tests and did an ultrasound. It didn’t take her long to diagnose me with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). In fact, she was almost giddy when she told me because I didn’t present with the usual symptoms. Instead, my ultrasound revealed dysfunctional ovaries. She told me that she could still get me pregnant via fertility treatments, but those were expensive and we weren’t in a position to spend lots of money on treatments that weren’t likely to work.

Now that we’re in a significantly better financial situation and could possibly afford fertility treatments, my body betrayed me yet again. In 2015, after two years of being bounced from doctor to doctor, I was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer. While I’m okay now as a thyroidless person, getting pregnant in my mid-thirties while being an “endocrinological freak” (thanks, new PCP!) is not a good idea.

So to recap: now just isn’t the time and we can’t have children were my primary reasons that I would give. (Side note: Mr. Smith was never asked to explain our decision to not have children. Why is this such a gendered thing?) So what changed?

Over the years, Mr. Smith and I would talk sporadically about adoption, but we would always conclude that now just wasn’t the time. Both of us lead fairly busy lives both separately and together. It was hard for us to imagine our life with another person in it. Then we went to Spain…

The two of us outside the Prado (Madrid, Spain).

Every year, we try to take one big trip that gets us away from home and experiencing somewhere new. This year, we went to Spain for my winter break. As is our practice, we often use some of the vacationing time to do a family check-in. This is where we talk about our goals and dreams for the future. We dream big and talk about what it would take to make the dreams come true. For us, these are the kinds of talks that we can’t have at home because we’re too comfortable and there are too many distractions. On this trip, we talked about what we want the next 15 to 20 years and kept coming back to how we would like to add a child to our home.

Now was the right time. In other words, we simply changed our minds. We were both done with school, Mr. Smith’s career is going well, and I’m transitioning out of higher education (the subject of a whole different post coming soon). Expanding our family was our next step.

In future posts, I plan to cover how we chose our adoption agency and program, the home study process, costs of adoption, and the waiting process. As I said at the beginning, let me know if you have questions in the comments.


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