Everyone is different. Every family is different. Couples who spend months or years trying for a child take different approaches to sharing information about their progress with family and friends. A couple that has been open about their infertility (and the consequential disappointments and frustrations) with the community that surrounds them will share their optimism when they announce that they have found a birthmother. The couple will then have the support of their community while they wait for the birth of their child and eventually share their delight when the adopted child joins the family. On the other hand, many couples resist sharing any information about their often painful journey through infertility, maintaining their privacy and suffering in silence as friends announce pregnancies and celebrate babies. For those couples, the adoption option may be explored in private, especially with the abundance of qualified facilitators, lawyers and agencies available on the internet. This path has its advantages but may also create emotional anxiety and stress for the people who choose that option.
Before our daughter’s adoption, I had never discussed adoption with my friends or even my close family. I had known only a handful of people who had adopted children and none of them were close enough to me to share their intimate experiences. I didn’t know what reactions to expect to our potential sudden addition to our family. Most of my family members were naïve about the process and never thought that we would consider adoption, especially when I hadn’t even shared that we wanted a third child. I worried whether my adopted child would be accepted and treated just like our naturally-born children.
I was a mother who kept quiet about my struggle with infertility. To me, it seemed selfish to complain about not being able to have a third child when I knew so many people who were suffering with infertility and had no children at all. In addition, I didn’t want our boys to become absorbed in our pursuit of a baby, so it was my goal to keep the possibility of a sibling a secret from them until we were sure it would come to pass. Building up our boys’ expectations for a sibling and then disappointing them if it didn’t work out seemed cruel and unnecessary.
Fortunately, we found out about our birthmother only three weeks before the birth, so keeping quiet about the imminent event was fairly easy, but no less emotional. When everything went as expected with our baby’s birthmother in the Midwest, we called our two boys right away, before we told anyone else. Our boys were simultaneously concerned about the potential noise-level in our home and whether they would have to share their toys with their new sibling, while also wondering about her name and when they could hold her. My younger son was especially excited about no longer being the youngest in the family. From that moment on, our boys were in love with and completely protective of their little sister.
Although we hadn’t been honest with our family and friends about why we were suddenly traveling without our boys for two weeks, we came home to a family who lovingly welcomed our new daughter and a community of friends who greeted her with open arms (literally) and expressed their excitement in watching her grow up as part of our family. I was beyond ecstatic about our new daughter, but what made it even better and so much more special was the outpouring of love and emotion from our friends who realized what we had been going through. Even better was the enthusiastic attitude of our family who welcomed her graciously and whole-heartedly, as if I had given birth to her. The adoption wasn’t an issue at all for anyone and I frequently wondered early on how my mother, God rest her soul, would have reacted to her granddaughter. As the years have gone by, I now know for sure she would have really loved her. In fact, my daughter’s disposition is so much like my mother’s, I frequently wonder if my mother sent my daughter to me from Heaven.