Making the decision to adopt was not difficult. After two summers of failed attempts to grow a suitable uterine lining, I realized that I had to make a choice. I could try either more aggressive, entirely experimental, shot-in-the-dark treatments to get my unresponsive lining to grow,, or I could move toward adoption. Infertility is extraordinarily expensive to address; adoption is extraordinarily expensive to pursue. If I had to take that gamble, adoption seemed the option most likely to lead to success; my body, in so many ways throughout my life, had shown me that it just can’t be made to understand what it needs to do. And so I shifted seamlessly from doctor’s visits to agency research and home study paperwork. My hope was renewed.
And yet… There exists a certain duality in this experience, the bursts of effervescent optimism tipped by periods of startling grief. I have moments – brief and surprising, triggered at odd times – where I find myself mourning that I will never experience pregnancy. It isn’t so much from the desire to pass along my own genes; after the conversation with my doctor, in which he explained that my best option to even try would be IVF followed by a series of frozen embryo transfers, I immediately started looking into the embryo donation program at my clinic as a way to cut costs. That wasn’t a difficult decision, either.
This grief, though, is not something I ever expected. I have always, always wanted to be a mother, but here is something that I have never admitted to anyone: I could never actually imagine myself as pregnant. Perhaps the lifelong knowledge that pregnancy would likely not be possible is the reason that I could not picture myself with child, that the thought itself seemed… unnatural? Anomalous. Strange. Pregnancy is not the thing I longed for, fantasized about, envisioned; motherhood is.
After a number of these grief moments over the past few weeks, I’ve finally come to a realization. What I am mourning, more than anything, is the loss of that sense of control we all crave: planning when to get pregnant so that the due date aligns favorably with the job; making all of the decisions about prenatal environment, prenatal nutrition, prenatal care; having a timeline, an expectation, a plan. In the adoption scenario, there is no control. There is no right time to start nesting, no far-away due date with time to prepare, no freedom to just do it without having to prove, in infinite detail, to strangers with veto power, that I am worthy to be a mom. There is only fervent hope; there is only blind trust that the pieces will fall into place when the time comes; there is only please, please, let someone believe that I am worthy.