I am a mother of one, and I'm darned lucky to be, as near as I can tell. It took a year of trying to conceive before I got pregnant with my son, and we were fortunate to be able to avoid the gaping maw of Western Infertility Intervention--that time.
I had hoped to be the mother of two, so when our son was two years old, we started trying to conceive again, thinking that once again, it might take awhile, but having faith that it would happen eventually. The short version of this story is that my son is now five-and-a-half years old, and it hasn't happened.
The long version is that we did end up looking into the gaping maw of infertility treatment, jumping down its throat, and eventually getting chewed up and spit out by way of 4 medicated intrauterine inseminations; 2 in-vitro fertilizations; an early miscarriage; a second mortgage on our house; and untold stress on my marriage, my son, and my psyche.
Throughout the grueling process of infertility treatments, my husband and I frequently visited the idea of adopting a child instead of continuing to try to conceive one. My husband has two adopted siblings, so he grew up in a family of adoption, and feels very comfortable with the idea of us adopting. For me, the issue is not quite so cut-and-dried.
This is the part that gets very difficult for me to explain. Since origins and sense of belonging are very important and raw issues for me, part of my reluctance to adopt stems from the feeling I have of being the broken link of a chain. The idea of me (an adoptee) adopting another person conjures up an image of one broken chain link trying to connect to another broken chain link. It just doesn't make sense to me. What I have found is that this description doesn't make sense to other people. Often I get a very quizzical look from those I tell about it. This has long frustrated me. But recently, I had two breakthrough experiences about it:
Last fall, I went to a conference about adoption with the intent of learning about the adoption process--we were investigating starting the adoption process. I went to a talk by Zara Phillips, author of Mother Me: An Adopted Woman's Journey to Motherhood, and without identifying myself as an adoptee, I asked her what she thought about adoptees adopting children. She said "I don't know of any adoptees who have adopted; we tend to want children who are genetically related to us." It was so gratifying to me to finally hear another adoptee's view on this issue. I no longer felt like I was crazy for wanting children who were biologically my own.
Next, another adoptee in the audience contributed his point of view, which was that he felt very strongly that he wanted an adopted child, and in fact, he had recently adopted a little girl. He also said he hoped that when the time came, his daughter would also adopt. Obviously, this is an emotionally charged topic. People have strong opinions about this one, and they're hard to sway.
Later, when I read B.J. Lifton's Twice Born, I saw my broken link sentiments expressed by another adoptee for the first time; she writes "I was like a link from a chain that had been allowed to break..." Yes. That's how I've felt, and both sadly and thankfully, I'm not the only one who feels this way.
I departed from that adoption conference pretty sure I would be unable to adopt. Yet my husband and I are still grappling with the idea that our family will remain a family of three, when we would really like it to grow to four. Nothing is set in stone: maybe I'll find a way to forge that chain link back together into a stronger whole.