Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Long Road to Her

This blog is probably one of the most raw things I have written to date. It contains thoughts and experiences I had previously chosen to keep private (in fact much of it was written a year ago and never published) - odd for someone like me who has otherwise made a decision to live this diagnosis out loud in an attempt to change its course. But now is the time to share. My prayer for you if you are living some of these same struggles is that you find some hope in our story.
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My journey to her began at age 19. It was the year I took the job as a nanny for a little girl newly adopted from China. I clearly remember rocking her to sleep in my arms, gazing down at that gorgeous perfect little face, and having the wind sucked out of me. What if her parents had not cared enough to go and get her? What if she had stayed in a Chinese orphanage? What hell of a life would she have lived? And here she was, safe in their home, safe in my arms, the world at her feet. I vowed then that I too would make the difference in a little life, and adopt.

I knew the child I got would be a girl... Altruistically speaking, girls have a pretty tough time in much of the world and I wanted to make a difference for one. Totally selfishly, I wanted to raise a ballet dancer, like me, someone to share that with (for as long as she would tolerate it before asserting independence, of course!)

Eight years ago I had another brush with adoption that only further solidified these feelings. I was teaching special education and I had twin girls from India on my case load. They were the result of a botched late-term abortion and had survived, eventually being adopted by an American couple. Again, I found myself looking at them and thinking, "What if..."

Fast forward many years, and I have an incredible biological son. A son who is my own miracle - as we now know I shouldn't have survived the pregnancy because I probably had PH already, and we just didn't know it.

When you have PH you can't get pregnant. Or, at least, you really really shouldn't. This is something you're told pretty much upon diagnosis. When I was told, it didn't faze me. My son was an infant at the time, and pregnancy was not something I was too big of a fan of the first time around. Since I already knew I wanted to adopt, I figured that would be our route, and that was totally cool.

Except, for a long time it wasn't our route at all. I was so busy chasing a toddler and trying to get better and trying to be self-employed, and my husband always works so hard, and our lives were just full. Although we batted the idea of adoption around many times, the answer always seemed to be "Not now." And that was fine.

But then a little over a year ago my damn biological clock started ticking...and chiming... and the gong started going off... and I couldn't make it stop. I wanted that baby.

After long heart-to-hearts with my husband, it was clear he just wasn't ready for adoption. And I couldn't blame him. It's not like other times when we've disagreed and my nose is all out of joint because he doesn't see it my way (come on, you know you all get like that). This time, he had real fears about the future. How the financial burden of supporting our family is by and large on him.  And worse, he had fears about being a single parent some day, if PH took the ultimate toll. These aren't fears we face head on too often. In fact, we never had before. We've chosen to live with the positive and not think that way. But when we're choosing to discuss a very purposeful choice for the long-term future, and involve the life of a child, we kind of have to wrestle with that dark side too.

For the sake of my marriage, I vowed to force this clock away. MAKE it go away. Focus on my son - whom I love and adore and is so so so enough in all possible ways. Basically, I tried to beat my biology. And pretend I was winning. And I did okay... for a while.

Then in the spring of 2013 I attended a dance recital. And I sat there and looked at the moms around me smiling with so much pride for their daughters on stage and I just lost it. I sat in the dark auditorium and cried silently. That should have been me. PH robbed that from me.

The grief followed me in the months ahead, although I tried to keep it in. Baby showers were torture. My sister got pregnant and I cried my way through shopping for the niece whose arrival I was over the moon excited for. And finally it was clear that I was going to have to either get some serious professional help in letting this all go, or re-visit the decision.

I tentatively broached the topic with my husband. And... he said yes. Why the timing is right now, I just don't know (neither does he). But my health is stable (thriving, even), all of my doctors are 100% in support of this decision, my business is growing, things have changed... and now we're ready as a couple and as a family.

Then it was just down to deciding on how to get her. International adoption held little draw now. I wasn't that interested in having to travel overseas with PH to go and collect her. Domestic adoption sure sounded good, but the tens of thousands of dollars it costs seriously deterred us. Surrogacy was also on the table... but I ended up deciding that if we really were going to do this, I needed to stay true to my original intent all those years ago and help a child in need.

And so, we were left with the foster system. We have chosen to adopt through social services and take a child whose parents can not care for her. It does not escape me that for us to get our daughter, someone else will loose theirs.

This path is scary. In fact, I should probably be much more jittery about it than I am. The child may come to us drug exposed, abused, neglected... who knows. We could be placed with a child, only to have the arrangement fall through because the system deems reunification with the birth family or extended family is better. But the truth is, the road to her has been so very long, sometimes so very hard, and now is the time.

It is going to be fine.

I have total peace about it. A peace that surpasses understanding, and I'm pretty content with that.

We're almost done with all of our DCF licensure requirements.

Now, all we have to do is wait for her.





8 comments:

  1. I'm so happy for you and your family, Colleen! Praying "she" comes to you sooner than you think!! <3

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  2. Colleen,
    I am so happy for all of you...a bigger family, and more grand children for grand parents to love.
    The fondest of wishes to you all. Vanessa Hampton

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  3. Dear Colleen, my youngest son was 17 when I was DX so I didn't have that "clock" anymore. I did, however yearn for a little girl. In June of 2012 my grandaughter, Isabela Rose was born! God has a way of making things happen...As my late mother used to say, "It'll all blend in". I have faith that you will get your little girl and she will be so blessed to have you and her new family to care for her. Thank you so much for sharing your story, I hope it can help someone who might be suffering with the "No pregnancies" dx!

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  4. Colleen:

    You are such an inspiration to me and I am so grateful that I have met you. I cried reading your post. I can see how one day Nicole will have these same feelings because of not being able to have a biological child. Nicole was robbed of so much as are others who are diagnosed.

    You will make an awesome mom and the little girl will be truly blessed.

    Hugs:o)
    Jane

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  5. Wow, Colleen. This is huge news. I know the wait you're starting out on. My sister and step-sister have both adopted babies, one by an international adoption and one a private domestic adoption. Both routes were difficult but my niece Maya is now a feisty eight year old and we celebrated my nephew Bryson's first birthday last weekend! I wish you strength for the road ahead.

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  6. I wish you the best of luck and the most success on this, your journey to your daughter. I know exactly how you feel. I have one son and I often feel someone is missing, someone in pigtails. PH robbed me of the same thing as you. I wrote about similar feelings on my blog http://incaseimgone.com/2014/03/
    We share a parallel journey you and I and I wish you great joy and happiness but, above all, I wish you health and longevity.

    All my very best,

    Leigh
    incaseimgone.com

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  7. Leigh - thank you so much for writing! We do indeed share a parallel journey. Thank you so much for sharing yours with us too. I will go check out that blog...and my very best to you as well.

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