When You’re Adopting . . . And Unexpectedly Become Pregnant

Though it's patently untrue that people "always" get pregnant after adopting, it does happen sometimes. Here's our story.

Karen White September 18, 2016
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The first thing anyone will tell you when you announce that you have decided to adopt is, “NOW you will get pregnant!”

And it will make you want to scream.

And if it does happen, and you do become pregnant, you will never hear the end of how “that always happens!”

But those who have struggled with infertility prior to adopting can tell you that statistically the numbers really aren’t that high. In fact, based on several studies it has been proven that you have no greater chance of conceiving after adopting than you had prior to adopting.

But I was one of those 8-14% (depending on what source you use) that did become pregnant. And it happened while we were still in the process of adopting our son. It was unexpected, and the minutes and hours after we found out were not the happy ones you envision having when you find out you are pregnant.

Our story began like many who suffer from infertility. We tried to conceive the “natural” way for our prerequisite year. Then came the visit to a reproductive endocrinologist, who threw around multisyllabic words you have never heard before, like polycystic ovaries (PCOS), poor motility, low ovarian reserve, and poor morphology. You can’t even begin to wrap your head around all of the things the doctors could possibly find wrong with you. Or even worse, what if they can’t find anything “wrong?”

We wound up with a litany of reasons we could not seem to conceive. So we decided to try Clomid and IUI. After 2 rounds with no success and horrible side effects, we quit. We didn’t even consider trying IVF or donor sperm and/or eggs. We started contacting adoption agencies and researching our options. We were fortunate to not have to struggle with the choice to adopt; it just seemed like the right decision for our family.

So instead of trying to conceive, we threw ourselves into trying to adopt. We did the mountains of paperwork, subjected ourselves and our home to intrusive questions, and waited. And waited. And waited.

We were one of the younger couples that were working with our agency, so our profile seemed to be viewed often (mind you, our adoption occurred before social media became big, so we relied only on our agency showing our book), but every time it came down to the expectant mom choosing between us and another family. And it was never us. Until finally one day I was sitting in my home office working and our counselor called. Our profile had been shown without us knowing, which didn’t usually happen, and the woman had chosen us.

We were excited but apprehensive. Our first contact with the expectant mom went worse than we could have imagined. But we left the door open for further contact and eventually started communicating via email, then phone, and finally in person. Our relationship seemed to grow organically. We met her extended family, her other kids, and her sibling. She sent us ultrasound photos and belly pics. We really came to love the family that would become part of ours.

Having found out that I had PCOS and my husband had a whole slew of issues, we never worried about birth control. It had been years and nothing ever happened. Even with medications and doctor assistance, we had never been able to become pregnant.

After several months of not having a period, which was totally normal for me, and a few weeks of feeling lousy, my husband suggested I finally take the round of Progesterone (that the doctor had prescribed and I avoided because I hated the side effects) to force a period, since that is what I had had to do in the past. I had been told to always take a pregnancy test before doing so, “just in case.”

So I begrudgingly went upstairs to take what seemed like the millionth pregnancy test. Except this time it came up with 2 pink lines (remember: before social media, so also before fancy digital tests!) I completely panicked. I called my mom, my mother-in-law, and my doctor in tears. I was terrified that I didn’t know how far along I was since I hadn’t had a period in months, we had celebrated Christmas and New Year’s Eve like rock stars, I wasn’t taking any vitamins, and of course we were already matched with an expectant mom we loved and had recently visited. A pregnancy wasn’t in our “plans.”

We decided that the expectant mom we were matched with had to know. Only she and the agency could decide what happened next. We steeled ourselves for what was to come. Our dreams of a family through adoption were turned upside down, and what should have been a happy moment (a pregnancy) left us filled with dread.

It was the worst phone call we ever had to make. We felt like we were letting the expectant mom down. She was nearing her due date and here we threw in a major curve ball. It was a terrible way to feel. We all cried on the phone when we told her. We ended the call with a promise to check in the next day.

It wasn’t even 30 minutes before our phone rang again and the expectant moms’ phone number showed up on caller ID. We were scared to answer. We didn’t know if we would be met with anger or tears and felt we deserved either. But we were surprise to hear a calm voice on the other end. A voice that told us that she wanted her son to have siblings, and if it was going to be sooner than later, so be it. She wanted to continue with us, and so our crazy ride to parenthood really began. About a month later she gave birth to a perfect baby boy and allowed me the privilege of being in the delivery room. The days we spent with her and her family in the hospital were the most stressful and wonderful days. After three days, we had brought home our oldest son and already had a weekend visit with his birth mom and grandma scheduled for when he was 2 weeks old.

Five and a half months after that, I gave birth to another perfect baby boy.

Not all stories end like ours. Many agencies will not allow you to continue in the adoption process if you become pregnant. In fact, ours had the same policy, but our son’s birth mom insisted we were the family she wanted for her son. I have even heard of some agencies requiring hopeful adoptive parents use birth control to avoid situations like this. And while it certainly wasn’t easy, it was worth it in the end. Our boys are super close. Of course they fight like brothers and are often mistaken for twins, which drives them crazy. But I would never change the way our family grew.

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Karen White

Karen White is the self-proclaimed leading authority on being "that mom." You know the one. The PTO Vice President, room mom, baseball team mom, AND leader of well-behaved kids (OK, the well-behaved part may be stretching it . . . like really stretching . . .) When she isn’t threatening to tackle one of her boys on the ball field if they don’t run faster, or convincing her 4-year-old daughter that everything doesn’t HAVE to sparkle, she is also a wife and stay-at-home mom of three. One of the three happens to have been adopted, but good luck figuring out which one it is, since they all have pasty white skin, blond hair, and blue eyes.


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