Adoption has taught me a great deal about love. As I write that, I realize how cliché it sounds, but just as it is with many other life experiences, it is difficult to understand until you have experienced it yourself. I have fallen in love again and again with places, people, and experiences. However, when life took an unexpected turn that led me to adoption, I learned a new dimension of love.
In my younger years–before the responsibilities of education, marriage, and family were my top priority–I did a bit of traveling. I traveled as a college student and spent extended periods of time in some fantastic parts of the world. As a result, I have seen great beauty and fallen in love again and again with the beauty of the earth and the goodness of the people I had the opportunity to associate with.
I have memories of falling instantly in love with the picturesque mountains in Yangzhou, China. Aptly named the “Dr. Seuss” mountains, they rise and fall whimsically from the earth in great numbers. I rode a bicycle through the rice paddies and was instantly transported to what seemed like not only another country, but another time period. It was magical!
I fell in love with the mysterious charm of St. Petersburg Russia and still dream about what it might’ve been like to live in the Winter Palace. As I walked around in the bitter cold I imagined the energies of the historical events that took place in Red Square. I learned to love spending days and nights on a train, an experience I’d never had growing up in suburban North America.
In every one of these places I fell in love with my surroundings, cherished my experiences, and grew to love the friends I made. I truly felt that my life was rich with experience and gratitude for the wonders of the world. It was hard to imagine what in life could be more fantastic–or more fulfilling. I remained in the United States long enough to finish my education, and met and married a wonderful man in the process. I had great dreams of the trips we would take together, the time that we might spend together as a couple, and later with our children, exploring the world.
Shortly after we were married, my husband and I learned that having biological children would be very unlikely for us. This was devastating news to me. Although I found great love in traveling and discovering, my heart had longed for the day when I would marry and have children. We poured our hearts, our faith, and our finances into fertility treatments until we felt that enough was enough. Despite medical interventions, we had not become pregnant. Upon learning that what we had decided were our final efforts hadn’t resulted in a pregnancy, we moved on to adoption. It wasn’t second best for us; it was just simply what was next! I will always be grateful that it was a smooth transition for our already-tattered emotions. We knew nothing about adoption, but contacted an adoption agency and moved forward with the same faith and hope we’d previously felt. I knew we would be parents–I just wasn’t quite sure how it was going to happen!
We sped through our adoption paperwork and ironically found ourselves driving across state lines nine months later to meet an expectant birth mother who had decided to place her baby girl with us. We were nervous and excited and truly had no idea what to expect. We knew only a few vague details about this young lady and already felt a great love towards her. We could have never prepared ourselves, however, for the depth of love and appreciation that we would feel towards her in the coming weeks and months.
We continued our correspondence and joined one another again in the same state near the time she was to give birth. We spent the last days of her pregnancy together talking, laughing, going out to lunch, and I believe we ate ice cream of some type every single day! The bond we shared deepened, and the love I felt for her throughout our daily activities was growing as well.
I woke early the morning of my daughter’s birth and prepared for what I knew would be a big day. As with many adventures in life, I didn’t know what exactly to expect or how the day would unfold. So many aspects of adoption are only understood as they are experienced.
It is simultaneously humbling and tragic to witness a woman you have grown to love labor through the process of childbirth as she brings a baby into this world; a baby that she will hold in her heart forever, but in her arms only for a short time. Later that day a beautiful baby girl was born. Eight years later, I can scarcely think about the day without becoming emotional. The beauty and love present in adoption far surpasses any natural or man-made wonder I have ever seen.
Becoming a mother has been an incredible blessing. Experiences I have had around the world now pale in comparison to the joy and wonder I find in motherhood. At this point in my life there is no place I’d rather be than in the rocking chair with a child and a couple of story books. Motherhood was made possible to me through adoption, and I have found in my adoption experiences a love that is strong and lasting. This love is shared with my children, who will always know that they are loved by many. Of all the wonders I’ve seen and fallen in love with, the greatest by far are under my own roof, growing and blossoming.