My 18-Month Labor

Every time I read something about the joys of motherhood that focuses on the pregnancy as much as the precious first few days, weeks, and months, a little piece of me cringes. After years of trying to conceive, we were faced with the decision to go down a complicated path that would put us in a more advantageous position to possibly conceive (an iffy proposition at best), or we could adopt and know we’d definitely have a child.

We chose adoption… and we’ve never looked back.

Yet the vast majority of endearing blogs and articles on motherhood stress the pregnancy part. The feeling of the baby kick, the months of waiting, the breastfeeding once the baby is born.

So, for all my fellow mothers who had a baby through adoption, here is the list of experiences that finally we can relate to. Here is our testament to the determination to takes to have a baby.

1. Poking and Prodding. The joy and anticipation of holding that bundle of joy is preceded by the most invasive list of conditions known to man. First there are the exams… physical, mental/emotional, and even financial. Next comes the fingerprints (local, state, and federal) and FBI background checks. After that comes the home visits from the social worker, then child services-who wants to check that you have (of all things) the right kind of locks on your doors-and finally the fire department, who wants to see your fire escape plan from every room in the house, as well as the 50,000 fire extinguishers and escape ladder that are mandatory.

2. A Picture is Worth… As you present your life story in one 20-page picture, all you can do is hope you picked the right picture, the right vacation photo, the right snappy caption for every snapshot. Then the worry sets in-do we seem fun? Do we seem like too much fun? Do we seem excited or desperate? Does our house and lifestyle seem comfortable or do we come across of pretentious and trying too hard? Does my hair look funny in that picture? Oh crap, she will hate my hair! Who wants to a woman with hair like that to raise a child!!! Oh, that just a shadow… Wait, what is that on my face!?!

3. Excitement and Devastation. Once you finally let go of the profile and it is sent around to agencies and birth mothers across the country, you get phone call after phone call with opportunities… which are then followed by phone call after phone call that they chose someone else (it was the hair, wasn’t it!), or that the adoption fell through. And suddenly you are right back where you were when you were trying to conceive, with loss after loss and failure after failure. All you can do is try, hope, and cry.

4. Sheer Joy. The Day. The day you learned you were going to be a mother. (Mine was July 12.) You got the call that they chose you. YOU! Of all the profiles in all the world, they chose yours. And, in three, five, seven months, you are going to be a mother. Once again, all you can do is hope and cry.

5. Oh… My… God! I’m going to be a mother… in three months. All that prep. All that planning and prodding and poking and here it is. Just three short months, your child will be in your arms. Crap! Do I tell anyone? Do I have a shower? What if it falls through? Do I not have a shower, and just buy the essentials myself-the crib and car seat? What if something goes wrong and I have to walk by that crib day after day. Okay, car seat yes, crib no.

6. The Call. Of all the moments in my life, be it having my husband propose, getting married, being offered by dream job, or even getting the call my dad died suddenly, nothing will ever compare to our birth mom calling me to tell me Kennedy was here. Please come to Philly. From one simple picture, I was in love like never before.

7. The First Kiss. The nervousness of walking into that hospital room after a frantic 2 hour drive, preceded by an even more insane packing session (what does one wear to meet their daughter!) when you have no idea how long you will be gone and what the weather is like where you are going! Then the conflicting emotions of meeting your birth mother for the first time (unbelievable gratitude and heartache for her all at the same time), which is quickly overwhelmed by tears that simply will not stop streaming down your face as you hold your daughter in your arms and kiss her sweet face.

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