A lump. A giant, hard, non-moving lump. I stepped out of the shower and nervously called for my husband to come to the bathroom. He walked in and immediately said, “What’s wrong?”  Apparently the lack of color in my face told the whole story.

I said, “Feel this. Is there something there? Tell me it’s all in my head.” His face soon matched mine and his response was, “Call your doctor; it’s not in your head.” A trip to the doctor confirmed the mass and got me sent in for an immediate mammogram and sonogram.  At 35 years old, what was happening? The “C word” was running through my head. I couldn’t have cancer! I had children to raise. Then I started thinking about how upsetting it would be to tell my mom if I received that diagnosis. My grandma had been through breast cancer several years ago and came out OK, but I remember how nervous she was when she told our family.

But my biggest fear wasn’t telling my mom, my grandma, or even my children.  My biggest fear was telling my son’s birth parents if there was something wrong. Luckily, my tests came back fine and I just have to repeat testing a little more frequently now to keep an eye on things.  But the fear of failing my son’s birth family really hit me hard.

It’s no secret that many people adopt due to infertility. Sometimes that infertility is direct and sometimes it’s more so related to the dangers of pregnancy or medications they take because of diseases they live with.  So it is reasonable to expect that sometimes health will take a turn for the worse and that no one in any situation can predict what life will throw at you. A harsh reality is that sometimes people die unexpectedly or become disabled. We fear the unknown. When trusted with the life of someone’s child, for some reason we don’t always think rationally.

I recently lost a dear friend of mine. I met this amazing woman through adoption. She became a fast friend. She was eager to help anyone who was ever in need. She took life in stride. Although we never even met face-to-face, we learned we grew up in the same town, and that made our connection more than just adoption. We enjoyed phone conversations and instant messaging.

Adoption wasn’t a decision she went into lightly; she was born with Turner Syndrome. This diagnosis left her infertile and suffering from many other things that affected her daily life.  After open heart surgery to correct one of her problems, she suffered severe complications that she was ultimately unable to recover from. In the days leading up to her surgery we prayed together, we laughed, we cried, and I tried to reassure her that everything would be just fine.

But, like me, her fears centered on leaving her daughter. My friend was an amazing mother and wife.  On top of that, she was a strong advocate for open adoption and showed that daily through her respect and love for her daughter’s first mom.  During the time that my friend was in the hospital fighting for her life, her daughter’s birth mom showed strength and courage. She never faltered in her dedication to the adoption or showed any regret in her placement. She showed confidence in her daughter’s father and prayed along with the rest of us. When my friend lost her battle and her butterfly wings were sent soaring, I was proud to have gotten to see the true beauty in her family through the relationship of open adoption.  While it doesn’t erase my own personal fears, it did give me faith that there is a plan for all of us and lessons to be learned around every corner.

Fearing the unknown is normal, but looking forward to a brighter future keeps us moving forward. I miss you, Amber.