Am I “Really” A Parent? An Adoptive Parent’s Perspective

“It doesn’t matter how you become a parent.”

 

That’s what people told me.

 

I mostly believed them.

 

But I still wanted the experience, the feeling of carrying a child inside me and seeing myself reflected in his eyes.

Fast forward…guess what? I DO see myself reflected in my child every day. His actions, his mannerisms, and the way he talks, just to name a few. And the minute I held him in my arms, I knew he needed me and I needed him. I loved him. I was his mama. 

When you don’t look like your child, people begin to question if you are the “real” parent. Whether through giving birth with all your own genetics, using a donor, a surrogate or through adoption, everything about being a parent is very “real.” Sometimes you may share the “real” mother or “real” father title, but hopefully, you have enough confidence in yourself and an open enough heart for that. I adopted my son, so he has two “real” mothers….one who took care of him for nine months and gave him life and then me…his “forever mom.”

While there are some people who always knew adoption was going to be their route to building their family, most of us try the more “traditional” route first, then find ourselves in the throws of fertility treatments before moving on to another plan. At what point, do you allow yourself to turn to Plan B (or C or D)…or is it even fair to rank them?

It’s a great idea to have a clear understanding of what your next steps are and when you will take those steps, while also being fully present and engaged at whatever stage you are currently in. Make a plan! But not while in the throws of fertility treatments, when you’re jacked up on hormones and an emotional wreck. Make a plan before you begin or in between cycles when you’re a bit more level headed and can think more clearly.

Here’s what I mean by a plan. Begin asking yourself how many times you are willing to try one method before moving on to something else? Your options may include using Clomid, trying Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) or In Vetro Insemination (IVF), using donor egg or sperm, adoption or embryo adoption or surrogacy (I think I’ve covered them all). There are many options when it comes to building your family – and ultimately, they are all perfectly viable and acceptable as long as they get you to your goal of becoming a parent.

Your answer may be different from someone else’s, but having made a plan that you’ve clearly thought through will help alleviate SOME of the emotional distress later. If you don’t already know much about the various avenues, maybe your plan involves getting educated about your different options and when it might feel right for you to seek that information out.

As I mentioned before, just because you’ve made a plan, it’s best to be fully present in whatever stage you are currently in. Wherever you are in your journey needs your full energy and attention. People have asked me if they can pursue fertility AND adoption at the same time. While not impossible, I don’t think it’s the best idea, as there is a lot involved with both paths. Emotionally it may be difficult to do both and in the end, you may be faced with some really difficult decisions as a result. That said, if your plan changes along the way, that’s perfectly fine too. Just the exercise of thinking through your options will be helpful as you go through your journey.

When you are ready to take the next step in your plan, first allow yourself time to mourn/process/grieve the step you just completed before moving. This part is really important and you may need extra support. Involving your doctor and a therapist will be essential to help you work through the emotional pain and anxiety that often accompanies letting go and starting anew.

Perhaps you will find comfort in being around other women who are experiencing infertility as well. Shine Fertility in Chicago is a wonderful resource. If you’ve been exploring surrogacy or egg donation, I would recommend reaching out to Lotus Blossom Consulting or Conceiveabilities. And if you think adoption is something you want to explore, start talking to people who have adopted to learn more and, well…reach out to me at RG Adoption Consulting!!

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Being able to accept when your body is failing you is one of the most difficult things you will experience in your life, but no matter how much pain or how many ups and downs you experience, the way you become a parent in the end, will feel just as “real.” Trust me, I know!

 

 

 

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