Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my path to single motherhood. It’s strange, because it feels so natural and normal to me now, that I sometimes forget how unconventional my path has been.
Ever since I was a little girl, I always wanted to have children. I had big dreams about having birth children and adopting. My “Plan A” approach was always in this order: fall in love, get married, have birth children, provide foster care, and adopt.
When I turned 28, I started seriously considering the “what if’s” about Plan A not working out. I had just moved to a new state, was away from all my friends/family, and I was finding it difficult to meet any new quality men. I tried a bunch of stuff: online dating, volunteering, getting involved in the community, speed dating, singles events, etc. But it just wasn’t happening for me.
Starting to think about Plan B
When I was 28, I wasn’t ready to give up on Plan A. But I also didn’t want to give up on living the life I wanted because of the lack of a partner. At that time I started looking into having a biological child using donor sperm. I had given myself a “deadline” of sorts, that if I reached 33 and I still haven’t met someone, that I would pursue having a birth child. I just wasn’t really ready to do it at 28. I also didn’t want to be too old, and from my research at the time, 35 seemed like where the big fertility decline would start happening. So, 33 seemed like a good time to start.
Things with Plan A weren’t working out and I wasn’t ready for Plan B (I wrote about it a little bit here). At that time in my life I felt like it would’ve been selfish for me to move forward with having a biologicalchild. When I read through my old diaries, I think part of it was I wasn’t really ready. I was scared of all the ways my life would change and I didn’t know if I was ready for that at 28, without a husband. Not to mention, I still had big hopes of meeting someone and wasn’t ready to let that go yet.
That’s when I started looking into foster care.
Plan C: Foster Parenting
I always knew that I wanted to be a foster parent and that I eventually wanted to adopt. I figured, why not now? I ended up holding off until I was 30 to move forward with becoming a foster parent.
Why fostering and not adopt? I often get asked why I went into being a foster parent and not just doing straight adoption. As I mention under my Plan B, I just don’t think I was ready to be a single mom yet. But helping children has always been a dream of mine. I figured that I’ll become a foster parent and if/when one of my foster children became eligible for adoption, I can cross that bridge when it came. That it was all in God’s hands.
I just didn’t want my Plan A to stop me from living my life or put me “on hold” from pursing things.
Living Plan C: Being a Foster Parent
I have to admit that being a foster parent is probably a lot more difficult than having biological kids! I didn’t know that at the time. I had big ideals of helping children, helping reunify them with their parents, and that life would go on as it should. That’s not really how it happened.
As a foster parent, you are under such scrutiny (which I understand — but doesn’t make it easier to live through it). You are limited on parenting techniques, there’s a huge time commitment – more so than having a birth child (monthly visits, required appointments, transporting the child to meetings, court hearings, etc), not to mention the incredible emotional attachment you develop to your foster kids. Loving a child goes beyond sharing genetics. You become an advocate, you become their voice, you fight for their best interests.
Plan A? Yeah –> Not happening at this point. There was no way I could meet someone when I had rotating foster children. Saying goodbye to my foster kids was not only hard for me, but was hard for all the other people that knew my kids. Not only that, my “extra time” was non-existent. My life quickly started revolving around my foster children and there really wasn’t room for anything else.
Plan B? Yeah –> Not happening at this point. I was so invested in my foster kids and committed to helping more kids, that 33 came and I thought, “Maybe Plan B isn’t for me and I can adopt?”
Being a foster parent and saying goodbye to all my kiddies was probably the hardest thing I have ever had to live through. At this point in my journey I knew I wanted to move forward with adoption, but I was still committed to being a foster parent. As a foster parent, I was very dedicated to helping reunify children with birth family. A bit of conflicting feelings there –> temporary care vs. permanency / adoption.
The most difficult part about saying goodbye to my foster children was that once they were gone I had no children in my home. It was during those times that I really missed being a mom and missed having children around. It was such a void in my heart and in my home. That’s when I absolutely knew that I was finally ready to become a Single Mother by Choice (SMC).
Plan D: Adoption
What’s interesting is that I had started looking into Plan B when I was 33, almost 34, and I was between foster care placements. I started to get that “feeling” of wanting to experience pregnancy, giving birth, and having a biological child again. I was at a point where I felt ready to be a single mother by choice, either through adoption or through having a biological child. I even scheduled an appointment with an RE for a consult.
Well, the very next month I received my next foster child, Lucky #7 — my Little Guy, my forever son — he was the first and only of my foster children that became eligible for adoption while he was in my care. I talk about his adoption timeline here. There were rocky times during his placement when I wasn’t sure if I would be able to adopt him or not. There were times where I felt completely broken and lost at the thought of him leaving me. I remember going straight to church after a court hearing and just crying in the pews and asking for strength and acceptance. I’m grateful every single day to call him my Forever Son and to be his Mama. In a lot of ways, he’s changed my life for the better and I can’t imagine my life without him.
Back to Plan B
When my son was about to turn 1 years old and I was about to turn 35, I decided I would move forward with TTC and trying to build my family. I still managed to take two more foster children while I was moving forward with adopting my son and going through fertility treatments. I went through the struggles of TTC, infertility, and almost 2 years of fertility treatments. And now, I’m almost 30 weeks pregnant and expecting my baby boy to arrive in a few more weeks.
Sometimes I look back and wonder how the heck I was able to go through fertility treatments, take in two of my hardest foster children, and go through my son’s adoption — all at the same time. What was I thinking? I’m just tired thinking about it now… LOL. Somehow though, I managed!
Thoughts on Plan A
I would lie if I said that I don’t mourn Plan A.. Every now and then I get really sad about it and wish I had someone to share my joys about my son and about my new baby boy. I also wish at times that I had someone to tag-team with! Especially being pregnant, my energy levels are so low and the fatigue is a killer.
But in reality, I have no regrets about my path. My path led me to my son and it led me to make this precious baby boy. If just one thing was different, I wouldn’t have my boys and they are everything to me.
To read more of this post, go to Creating Family