Dawn’s Journey to Motherhood

Dawn an Ava

Dawn and Ava

Growing up in California, I had a really strong love and connections with my mother and grandmothers. My mother was also a stay at home mom and was able to guide me through the milestones in my life. Our family dynamic always resonated with me and was confirmed when I worked as a nanny while attending UC-Berkeley. I observed the routine and requirements of proper care for children while providing respite to a professional couple who had three kids.  This daily hands-on interaction provided clarity for me as I realized that I didn’t want that model, but preferred the traditional arrangement of a stay home parent, as I was raised. When I met my future husband at 26, he agreed with this idea. Even though Dave and I had a short courtship, this was one of the serious topics we explored and confirmed before we got engaged.  We eventually moved to Dallas from California so that we could live on one income and purchase a home.

I believed that we were headed for parenting in our early thirties, based on getting married at age 26 and compromising with him that we would give ourselves 3 to 5 years to strengthen our relationship, travel and indulge in many activities that are more difficult to manage once children are in the picture.

When contemplating how many children we wanted when that time arrived we were aiming for one biological child and likely adopting as well.  I had always considered adoption as a possibility since my best friend is adopted and I felt that I had a heart for this way of family building so long as I could experience pregnancy, and share that with my grandmothers and my mother as I had been dreaming of since I was a small child. When our 5-year anniversary approached my husband started having ambivalence. It stemmed from his fears of being an inferior father after he had a poor upbringing. I eventually pacified his fears and we tried conceiving for about 2 years without success.Audio File

At age 35 we relocated to Austin and I visited a doctor who found out immediately that I had a blockage in my fallopian tubes and my husband found out previously, as well, that he had infertility issues. The only route we could take to conceive at this point was through IVF. When our first IVF did not result in pregnancy nor yield any viable frozen embryos I was pretty devastated, but remained optimistic that the second time would be the charm.  Literally, I believed that failure was NOT an option.  Like so many other couples, we had a difficult time with the clinical and dehumanizing aspects of in-vitro fertilization (IVF), but I trusted the experts and we tried again.  When our second round was not successful, we knew that, for financial reasons, we needed a guaranteed positive outcome, so we ended treatment and began to explore the path to parenting through adoption.

At every turn, I was the driving force and motivation behind the effort to overcome our hurdles and create a family.

I grieved the loss of having my own genetic child and began to focus exclusively on the path to parenting that adoption provides. This was at times rather overwhelming after having educated myself on the intricacies of assisted reproductive technology, but now I was the family expert on these alternatives and was researching and learning and became actively involved in the adoption community to better understand our options.

Adoption wasn’t our first choice but it turned out to be our best choice, though it was not without its own opportunities for resilience, which is how I have come to view the tougher moments.  

Expressing to an unknown birth mother what you hope to give her child if you are chosen to parent is a dream and a nightmare all at once.  Everything seems to rest upon each word one utters, or writes, each photo selected, every nuance being the potentially defining moment when one is either chosen or rejected.  After the seemingly relentless pressure of IVF, this was yet another gauntlet of emotion, but with the support I found at Adoption Knowledge Affiliates, as well as the education around the lifelong issues of this journey, I felt that I had found my calling as a mother.  I was and still am so moved by the gifts of adoption, and the unique ways in which all members of the triad are connected by both loss and love.  When we were matched with a young expectant mother in Corpus Christi. I thought we had found our miracle.  As it turned out, months of relationship building and my assistance as her birth coach during her C-section was a gift to her, as it strengthened her for the decision to parent her baby rather than placing him with us.

With that devastating surprise came a huge blow, as I doubted myself and my husband became somewhat embittered toward the prospect and I now had to manage his disillusionment along with my own depression. This helped after a few potential matches went awry. Thankfully, I learned that I could dig deeper than I ever had imagined I could, and I eventually accepted reality with a peaceful heart convinced that we were, with each twist and turn, one step closer to our baby.

That turned out to be true once we found the next birth parents who were considering placing their unborn daughter for adoption in the same year as they had a daughter graduating high school with a son expected to follow her to college in the following year. They were preparing to become grandparents, not preparing for the joys of diapering and sleeplessness of parenting an infant, as they also were providing care to a disabled parent and dealing with physical and financial limitations of their own.Audio File

We met two months prior to the baby’s due date and built a wonderful relationship centered on trust, but also with the awareness that due to their ages being parallel to ours, we had to resolve some of the typical concerns with “geriatric pregnancy” that would have been likely for us had we conceived a biological child.  We were all rewarded with the birth of a beautiful, healthy and perfect baby girl on June 13, 2006, who arrived ten days early so that her adoptive father could experience his first Father’s Day with a newborn.  I was invited to be in the delivery room when my daughter was born and was a witness to this transcendent moment as I held hands with her maternal aunt and her sister, each of us expressing our elation through tears, though for all there was also the heightened calibration of anxiety over the impending moment of transfer from one family to another.

 This is the explicit loss and transformation that cannot be erased for an adopted person.  They are beloved by two families, connecting hearts which adoption unites while all experience a separateness that remains, a yearning for wholeness, which is at a primal level.

My awareness of this fact and acknowledgement of it has shaped my sensitivity to my daughter’s most basic vulnerability as well as requiring of me to reach beyond my own expectations and my childhood dreams of motherhood to embrace the love I have been blessed with in the form of my adopted daughter.  I never doubted I could love her, but I never realized that I would also love her birth mother and her biological family so deeply and wish for their healing with every bone in my body.  Honoring them through our open adoption has been another path to growth for me, not only personally, but professionally, as have devoted more and more time to Adoption Knowledge Affiliates (AKA).Audio File

Ava and her family of origin continue to inspire my desire to give back to other adoptive parents, to birth families, and to adopted people whose journeys toward wholeness and authenticity are fraught with myth and misinformation and secrets.  Beyond the typical victories and moments of jubilation that I am so honored to participate in with my beautiful Ava Marie Margot Scott, whom we named on the third day of her life when she came home with us from the hospital, my all-time favorite moment, closely followed by the day the court recognized our family as legally permanent, though I still wish that her birth record reflected her truth, which is that it include her birth parents name rather than being amended.  The lies imposed upon adopted individuals bother me, and I hope that through my work with AKA and that of others we will have more openness in records, more freedom to heal and to cherish and value authenticity.

I began telling Ava our story and acknowledged her experience that very night as I rocked her, trying to soothe her soul as she missed her other mother’s smell, heartbeat and voice.  I shared welcoming her with simultaneously grieving with her our complex past.  As I put words and tears to the beauty of our finding one another just as we were meant to do, not a moment too soon nor too late, I began real steps toward practical parenting.  Ava now, at age 7, retells her own birth tale and relishes as well as embellishes events in the timeline as she has been empowered to do with honesty and whimsy as we talk about what we wished for and what we received, comparing and appreciating how special and lucky we feel to be a part of each other’s lives.  She is my guide and I am hers.  My little bird has powerful wings…one from each of her mothers.

Mother and Daughter

Mother and Daughter

 

Donna’s Story on Finding Support and Resources

Donna and Her Husband Ken

Donna and Her Husband Ken

I was born in Seoul, South Korea and am the older of two children. My father was in the U.S. Air Force and we moved quite frequently when I was a child. My mother was a stay- at-home mom who raised us lovingly. We never went to daycare or had babysitters. I remember my mother being a very nurturing, hard working and giving women. She always provided the stability and comfort through our ever-changing lifestyle as a military family. She taught me to be strong and overcome obstacles. I was a very shy child and the constant moves and new schools all seemed very intimidating I recall.

When I was 14 we moved to Sembach A.F.B. in Germany. It was a big challenge to move during my teenage years, let alone to a different country. Attending a military school with other teens who also spent their lives moving frequently brought comfort and I settled in with a whole new set of friends. It was exciting to be able to travel with my family to different countries and also take field trips to places like France for the day. It was all an experience I wouldn’t have traded for the world!

My grandfather fell ill so we got transferred back to McGuire A.F.B. in New Jersey, where I finished my last two years of high school. I graduated high school at the age of 17 with no real college plans. I did have a desire and dreamed of working in the travel industry and was working on inquiring with a travel business school in Florida. Something about moving and traveling excited me and I yearned to follow a path where I could work and travel for a living. While my family researched schools in Florida my father got emergency transfer orders to Hawaii. I dropped my plans of going off to school and followed my family to Hawaii. How could I turn down an opportunity to live in paradise?

In Hawaii I attended a private college and majored in Business Management for the Travel Industry, but I left to work for a pediatric dental office. When I was 20 I married my first husband who was in the U.S. Coast Guard. He was 21. He transferred to Houston, Texas, where we lived for seven years. I worked and went back to college. We never really discussed having a family immediately, but talked about it as something we would want in the future. We were in no hurry. I was working 40 hours a week in a busy periodontics office. Constantly learning on the job and attending college in the evenings left me little time to slow down and talk about children.

I was also not particularly interested in being pregnant. I was always afraid of having a baby and of all the changes that would take place in my body.

I even mentioned to my husband that I would have preferred to adopt a child and give a child in need a good home. That was always something I held dear to my heart. At the time my husband also kept an open mind. However, after many years of soul searching and drifting apart, I decided to end my marriage and move to Temple, Texas where I had been accepted into a dental hygiene program.

Audio FileOn Fear 

I desired to have a family someday and hoped to meet someone who wanted the same things in life. When dating I knew exactly what I wanted and pictured a family with children. I dated only a few people seriously but no one I met had the same expectations and dreams.

When I was in my early thirties I met Ken, the man who would become my husband.

I remember discussing future dreams with him from the very beginning. I didn’t want to waste his time nor mine if our dreams didn’t match.

It was comforting to hear that he wished for the same things. He wanted a partner in life and a family with children. We dated for five years, but then separated for two years. He later realized that he wanted me back in his life and expressed his wishes to have me as his wife and start a family. We started dating again and in 2009 we were married. He was 41 and I was 39. We knew we would need to start trying for a baby soon in order to have one.

I read so much information on the Internet and became quite educated on how challenging it would be for me to conceive at this age. It was overwhelming and discouraging. We had just begun seeing a fertility doctor when I found out I was pregnant. I was overjoyed to have become pregnant naturally after just 6 months of trying. When I was told over the phone that my pregnancy was not viable, I was heartbroken. Not long after that I had a miscarriage. The term “not viable” was confusing and frustrating.

It was difficult to hear from a doctor that the risk statistics for women at age 39 were higher. The research and numbers did not sound positive. My doctor suggested that donor egg options had better statistics in achieving a successful pregnancy at my age. My doctor also suggested transfer of at least three embryos with my own eggs if we decided to do IVF. While going through testing with the fertility doctor we conceived our son on our own. Thankfully we did not need the help of our fertility doctor. [Read more…]