I remember being four years old and imagining how good it would feel to have a baby come out of my tummy. I assumed my belly button would open in some sort of orgasmic ecstasy (well, as much as a four-year-old can assume such a thing). It wasn’t too long after that I realized that babies don’t usually come straight out of tummies and that giving birth probably didn’t feel too nice. That is when I decided that I would adopt.
Fast forward a few years. I joined a church, I married an amazing man whom I love intensely and I assumed that I would want to have all his babies when the time is right. We started talking about baby names, I watched beautiful home-birth videos and read profiles of doulas and midwives. But when I went off birth control we didn’t start trying to conceive a baby — we stopped having sex.
I was incredibly uncomfortable with the idea of getting pregnant. I have always been sensitive and have suffered with anxiety and digestive disorders my entire life. I stand about 4’11” and only weigh about 89 lbs. The idea of pregnancy and all the aches, pains and nausea terrified me. The idea of my body trying to sustain another life seemed impossible. I kept telling myself that my body was capable, that I was supposed to have babies, that I was being immature, that I was letting my emotions get the better of me. I even went to hypnotherapy to try to help me “get over” it.
That is when I realized that if I needed to be hypnotized in order to want to get pregnant, pregnancy might not be for me. Perhaps my mind, body and spirit were trying to tell me something that I had known all along. I wanted to be someone’s mommy, but I didn’t necessarily want that someone to come from my body.
This was a difficult realization: I was supposed to want to birth a baby. I was supposed to see my husband holding an infant that we biologically created. My Facebook and Pinterest boards were full of pregnancy photos and baby announcements. People re-mortgage their houses in order to get pregnant; TV and movies tell stories of the pain of infertility. I was the only woman in the world who didn’t want to experience the miracle of bringing a baby into the world. I was going against biology. I felt inhuman, guilty and wrong.
Then, this amazing thing happened: I told my husband that I had officially decided against pregnancy. I wanted to adopt. I told him that this wasn’t a fear that I was going to “get over.” I told him that I had looked into adopting from the foster care system, and I told him it was going to be hard. I waited for him to be sad, to be disappointed, and to cry — but he didn’t do any of that. He held me close and told me that he was relieved. Although he too wanted to be a parent (even more than I did) he had the same fears and reservations that I had. Adoption felt right to him, too.
We have applied to adopt from our provincial Ministry of Children and Family Development. We are taking courses and have a social worker assigned to us. It is happening slowly but surely. The best part is that although each step is nerve-wracking and intense, we are happy and excited instead of fearful and agitated.
We always knew that families came in all shapes and sizes. We have queer friends and relatives and we know many different kinds of families. We weren’t intolerant towards any of them but what we didn’t realize is that we were being intolerant towards ourselves. On the outside, we were the picture of ‘normal’ — white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant, working class, heterosexual. But appearances can be deceiving. So deceiving, they had fooled us. We were trying to fit our family into a box that it just wasn’t meant to fit into.
We don’t know what our family is going to look like in a couple of years but we trust that it will look just the way it is meant to. We are eager and nervous, just like any first time parents-to-be. Sometimes, I still feel like I’m doing something wrong, I don’t know anyone else in our exact situation and that makes it a little lonely. But when that moment passes, I finally feel like I am normal, natural and true to myself.