I find myself in my thirties, living my life upon the shoelaces of other people’s shoes. I watch and listen to stories of many wonderful families and their newfound loves: first word, first step, first day of school. My heart aches with anguish; I get the feeling that these family experiences will never be my own. Pregnancies ending in miscarriage, the pregnancy test always telling us “no” with its one little line, to us a middle finger.

People are full of suggestions and Dr. Suess questions. Have you tried this or have you tried that? Well, what about that? Yes, I have tried that here or there, I have tried that everywhere! I cannot seem to bear my own, damn it please just leave me alone!

And still I look at other people’s children, pondering fatherhood and wondering to myself, “What’s that like?”

There are many children in our lives—more than you can count on your fingers or toes—and while I have felt close to many of them, none of them will I get to call my own. I love those little ones and I find the time we spend together to be like the taste of chocolate—just enough to make me want more. Those babies just aren’t mine to raise.  Babysitting isn’t the cure to my problems because they go back to their mommies and daddies—where they belong.

I’m imprisoned in my mind but I swear I didn’t do it. I didn’t do anything! But everyone in here is innocent, right? My soul aches but never participates and feels less whole as the years move on. It’s been this way for a while, for years.

I’m standing here under the bright yellow sun for a time that seems like an eternity. Sweating profusely, I cannot move my feet, though I watch my shadow move onward. My mind says, “But there’s a pecking order to things.” Haha. Funny. I’ve heard that one before.

Once in a while, with enough courage, I find myself talking myself out of having children at all (as if it’s my choice). Other days I find myself listening to coworker’s conversations, a pitter-patter of family activities, of fun times, of trials— it’s all just a fantasy to me, at most. My mind again: “Snap out of it! Dude, you’re living in the shadows.” (I know, my mind kinda sounds like a surfer.)

I’m in this grey area of life, a colorless septic where only infertile couples understand me, to an extent. Its impossible to really comprehend all things from one another without crawling into others’ minds and spending some time. I do this often for support.

I struggle with seeing others happy with their families, with their “normal” lives full of struggles raising their kids. A place I pictured myself being in one day: throwing a baseball to my son, baking cookies, doing homework, some daddy/daughter dances on the toes of my shoes, and even divvying up the chores. Basting a turkey or reading Saint Nick while their stockings are hung—its just getting so thick that my mind may explode or implode. As you may know, children aren’t quiet—they giggle and banter—but my house echoes with silence. Holidays are the worst. Mother’s and Father’s day. Halloween. Then Thanksgiving and Christmas. They come every year and, knowing they’ll pop their heads up, you’d think I’d be more prepared for them.

So now we’ve reached a milestone. We’ve prepared ourselves. We’re ready to adopt. Yes, adoption sounds awesome, amazing, and fun. We’ve been spreading the word, we’re getting it out there, and now that we have? We wait. “You what?”

In my head again: “Wasn’t something supposed to happen? Some beam of light shining down from the sky, the clouds parting way, and a stork with a baby?” Nope, just another fake prospective birth mother mother who’s scoured the web for emotional fraud, to steal my hopes from somewhere abroad. (Yes, that really happened.)

While this all continues, supportive friends and families ask in excitement many times more then you can count on fingers or toes, “How’s the adoption process going?” I shrug, (this time out loud) I say, “Sadly, its not going.” Nothing is happening and I find myself still in the shadows of others. Hopefully I’m still in my thirties, hopefully I still have some of my hair, I promise you I still love and I still care. For now I’m a bystander, my job is just watching and waiting. As I do, I hear giggles and laughs and fun stories. Frankly, today I’m sick of it.

I’m told tomorrow will be better and, yes, tomorrow may be another day, but in my mind’s eye, tomorrow is just like today.