Adopting the son I helped to conceive: how second-parent adoption reframes parenthood

Guest post by Amanda Black

Photo by DarrelBirkett, used under Creative Commons license.
Approximately one year ago I shared my struggles with learning to identify as a mother in a way that was brand new to me on Offbeat Mama. My wife and I had been trying to have a baby for a year. We had been unsuccessful with my uterus, and had made the decision to switch to hers. To me, my being a mommy was carrying a baby, nursing a baby, seeing myself in my baby’s face. I had never done motherhood in any other way.

Well, the day I received the email from Offbeat Families telling me they would be publishing my story, I also learned that I had successfully impregnated my wife!

We traveled through a fairly uneventful pregnancy. I had my difficult moments of jealousy — wanting my baby to be in my tummy, with me every minute of the day. It was the most heartbreaking when I knew my wife could feel our little one moving but I couldn’t. I felt so excluded at that time.

But I found my own way of being a mom in this pregnancy of not carrying my to-be baby. I created a weekly drawing on my wife’s belly starting around 10 weeks. I also went through the process of inducing lactation, which takes almost as much time as the gestation. And I sat back and let my heart be warmed by the beautiful image of my wife growing along with our little babe.

When D-day arrived my wife woke up crampy, and we had a feeling something significant was happening. We knew not to get too anxious, and I was sent off to work. Barely after arriving I got a text from my wife telling me her water broke. I ran around the agency I work at letting everyone know, and was shoved out the door with lots of warm wishes from my coworkers. We had the baby the next morning. I was by my wife’s side during every second of her 24-hour, all-natural unmedicated labor. She was amazing, and our baby boy was beautiful! I saw my wife’s face in his, and I nursed my baby boy. There is no other experience that can compare.

Before our baby was born, we started the process of a second-parent adoption. In our state, we were able to include both of us on the original birth certificate. To be recognized as a 100% parent, legally, at a federal level, the second-parent adoption was necessary.

There have been so many mixed emotions while being engaged in this process. There have been feelings of relief and gratitude at being able to make our family safe. There have also been feelings of anger and resentment at having to go through a legal process, and pay money to be considered an official parent to this baby I created.

For me, the second-parent adoption has been an ongoing reminder that I need to reframe my ideas of motherhood for myself. Through this entire journey of conception to adoption I have been tested on my ability to bring myself out of melancholy thoughts and into recognition of everything I have to be grateful for. Just because I have always identified as a mother in one way, doesn’t mean I cannot be as much of a mother in different way.

When our adoption went through one week ago (our baby was 2 ½ months old), I was elated! Then, anger crept in. I was so resentful about being in a position of very intentionally creating a life, yet still being required to hire a lawyer and plead with the courts to allow me to be legally responsible for this life. This resentfulness created a physical sickness inside of me.

I knew that I was lucky to be living in a state where it was even possible to have a second-parent adoption. I know other two mom families who do not have this option. I didn’t feel like this should discredit my very valid feelings of disgust at having to request permission to parent the son I conceived.

As I did with every other difficult moment in this newly experienced journey of motherhood, I allowed myself the time to sit with these feelings of resent and self-pity. I needed the time to accept them, not try to deny them. My wife knows this is what I need, and she tells me how much it sucks, that it isn’t fair. Giving myself time to acknowledge my struggles has allowed me to come out of them, instead of suppressing them, only to have them working undercover to dictate all of my other emotions. I feel I have become a much more well-rounded individual. I am more in touch with my emotions, and more insightful. I believe that makes me a happier person and a better mom.

As I write this story, baby is asleep on my chest. He is an everyday reminder of how grateful I am to have the opportunity to experience motherhood in this way. I would not feel any more connected to him if I had been able to carry him in my womb, see my face in his, or have been a legally legit mama without the help of the court. I suspect there will be more emotional hurdles in this journey, and I am also confident that each one will make me a more whole individual, and a more appreciative mom!

Comments on Adopting the son I helped to conceive: how second-parent adoption reframes parenthood

  1. Congratulations, new Mamas and way to go! Thank you so much for sharing your story. My partner and I know many couples going through the process of second-parent adoption. It breaks my heart to think that (at least in our home state) by legalizing civil marriage for all couples we could avoid this unecessarily emotionally hurtful process and just let couples enjoy the loving, caring and intentional families they have worked so hard to create. <3 to you and yours.

  2. Congrats to you and your family! I’m glad to hear that you guys had a baby, your first story really stuck with me, so I’m happy to hear the outcome. I also want to thank you for putting in your story the emotions you felt. And that allowing yourself to feel them rather than supress them helped you get through them and made you a better mom. I hope someday soon though, that all marriages will be legal and families will be families without all the extra legal paperwork. Love to your family from another Oregonian!

  3. Congratulations 🙂
    sorry to had to put up with sucky paper work, but best of luck to you and your new family.

    If you are ever interested in writing a piece about induced lactation I would love to read it, I’ve never heard of it before.

    • There was an article about it a while back. Search ‘lactation’ and you should find it.

      • my bad!!!
        I really should start reading on the computer rather than from my phone!!
        when I googled it (without putting offbeat mama first) I got strange articles about breast feeding adults (certainly not what I was expecting to read)

  4. Wow, I feel that I almost could have written this! I put the little plunger full of sperm into my wife’s vagina, I induced lactation, I was on the birth certificate in our state (CT) too, and I too felt simultaneously happy and angry at the whole 2nd parent adoption process.
    We are now in PA where our marriage isn’t recognized but the adoption is, and I am grateful we went through with it (knowing several couples who, not planning to leave our state, didn’t) despite the hassle. We also had several home visits from the local child welfare agency, with which I work on a professional basis but had never experienced from this end. Even though we *knew* I would get approved it was still nerve-wracking.

  5. Thanks for the congrats! The post on inducing lactation that was in Offbeat Mama is an article I turned to–many times– for encouragement. If I remember correctly, that couple was pretty successful. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out as well for me. I’m still glad I did it.
    ZS, the online world has connected me with many other moms who have conceived the way we have. I don’t know anyone in my “real life” who has.

  6. Bex, I really appreciate your thanking me for sharing my true emotions. These are feelings I didn’t want to have, and making myself share them helped me to deal with them. Having someone thank me for being honest about my feelings gives me more confidence as a mom. So, thank you for your kind words!

  7. “I knew that I was lucky to be living in a state where it was even possible to have a second-parent adoption.”

    I think this is extremely gracious of you. I don’t even know if I’d be able to muster up that much gratitude! That, plus much more in this post, makes you an inspiration. Thanks so much for sharing your emotions so honestly with us.

  8. It’s so reassuring to read your story. Though my partner and are not actively planning to get pregnant right now, it’s definitely something we want in our future. I have PCOS and know that conception will be difficult for me, if not impossible. I’ve spent a lot of time worrying that I wouldn’t be able to overcome jealousy at watching my partner experience something I always hoped to have for myself. Thank you for sharing your heart. I think it’s so important that you and your partner both acknowlede all of your feelings–gratitude/anger/elation/jealousy–so that they are recognized as valid, but not all-consuming. Your story has eased my jealous mama fears! Thank you so much!

  9. I have to adopt my own kids too. I’m also deeply resentful and annoyed by it, although I’ve sort of resigned myself to it. We will have to have a home study too. We can’t do the adoption until baby is 6 months old, either.

    However, there’s big reforms going through the BC Provincial Court system right now about this, and it’s taking us MUCH longer to conceive than we first thought, so there’s a chance I will automatically be considered the second parent by the time there IS a baby to parent! Things do change, but I hear your anger!! It makes me want to hulk smash something sometimes too.

  10. I actually cried reading your story because it could have been my own. The son my wife birthed is now 2.5 and we have a second one on the way. I am carrying this time. I struggled through the same emotions of awe at what she did for our family by having our son and jealousy that I didn’t get to do it. But I fall more in love with my son everyday. He is actually a lot like me in personality which is fun. We only recently moved to a state that allows second parent adoption and haven’t done it yet as I am afraid of how angry it is going to make me feel. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story.

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