As an adopted adult in a same-sex relationship, I didn’t expect it to be difficult to let go of the idea of being pregnant. Once I did, I found myself faced with some hard truths about adoption.
When my ex and I started talking about expanding our family, we decided to try insemination first. When that didn’t work, we went for adoption.
And we tried to get pregnant – my God, it’s not like we does not have try.
Partnering with another woman means “trying” is always intentional. When planning to conceive through insemination or in vitro fertilization, there are no #oopsie conversations that lead with, I don’t know when or how THAT happened!
We looked at the books of possible sperm donors and when we landed on “that one” we ordered his sperm and made the necessary appointments at the fertility clinic.
We decided that our first attempt at insemination would be on our own, in our home, because we wanted to create a loving and romantic space. We thought it would help the process energetically.
So the bath was pulled out, the candles lit, the vibrator nearby, and we were ready to immerse ourselves in the experience through an intentional – and shall I say, awkward ritual. I thought it would be MAGIC, and obviously it would work. The first time.
HA! At the time, we lived in a bungalow with a bathroom and a very small tub. I’m 5’10 “and my ex-partner is 5’11” – so we couldn’t both sit in a small tub.
Hell, me installing in a small tub is hardly an option unless I’m cool to have one half of my body in the water while the other half is freezing in the open.
And while we did everything we thought we had to do, I didn’t get pregnant. Not this time… nor the 8 more times we tried. We had to change our plan if we wanted to expand our family, as getting pregnant through insemination was no longer an option.
I should clarify that I am an adopted adult who has two adopted siblings and now two adopted children. I love adoption.
Naturally, I thought that I would have no problem adopting adoption as the way we have grown our family. But I was wrong.
Releasing the idea of being pregnant was much more difficult than I expected. I had been the victim of society’s messages about the worth and pregnancy of a woman.
In our culture, pregnant women are glorified and put on a pedestal – if they present themselves as the “right” type of pregnant woman.
We take wonderful maternity photos, we congratulate pregnant women who work grueling hours, we celebrate pregnant women who train and do everything during their pregnancy. We are talking about having a child “yours” – a mini-me.
I mean, my God, check out all the Instagram posts of women dressed like their babies.
In our culture, we send the message that choosing to be pregnant elevates your worth in the world. And who the hell wouldn’t want to feel worthy?
I felt as disappointed as anyone when I realized that pregnancy was not going to happen to me.
But we were determined to grow our family, and adoption was the path we took. So our adoption journey began.
When I think back to the adoption process – with all the paperwork, the house calls, the interviews; combing through our financial statements and working history; the interview of friends – I often wonder why no one asked us this very simple and critical question.
I think our population would decline by the millions if this was the test families were given before they had children.
Either way, we’ve done ALL the things you could do when your life is under the microscope so that someone else can determine if you are fit to parent. We even baked cookies to make our house smell good when the social worker came for our house maintenance and inspection.
Being a same-sex couple, several agencies told us that we shouldn’t even adopt.
We were told that we were “ruining everyone” (that still puzzles me), and that adopting a black baby would be one of the ways to ensure that we are chosen quickly and that we wouldn’t have to wait too long.
And we were told that if we were open to adopting a black male baby our odds would be even better because they are harder to place.
PLEASE re-read this last sentence.
We were given the message – loud and clear – that black baby males and black children in general are more difficult to place.
Not so long ago, in the world of private adoption, the cost of adopting a black baby was actually less than the fees adopt a white baby. Fortunately, this practice no longer exists, at least not with the agencies we have worked with.
Well, we said yes to adopting a colored child. In fact, it was more of a damn, yeah, because back then (and still to this day), we didn’t care what our family looked like. We didn’t care if our family became a transracial family.
Looking back, we should have spent more time taking care of ourselves. The agencies we worked with should have spent more time educating us on what this really means for a family, especially the black baby or child.
When it comes to the work that needs to be done in our country to dismantle racist systems, private adoption agencies as well as the foster care system certainly have their work cut out for them.
It comes from someone who truly loves and believes in adoption and foster care. It is difficult for me, as a white woman who is not only adopted, but also extended my family by adoption, to admit this truth.
So we started the waiting process. We waited and waited and waited… and I think you get it.
We were eventually matched with a pregnant woman and planned to adopt her baby. Three weeks before her delivery, we received an email stating that she had changed her mind.
That was it. It is the closure that we received after creating a picture in our mind of what our life would be like with a new baby.
And that’s when I realized that it was essential to release the grip on my vision of what this experience would be like.
I couldn’t go through this process unless I posted some – no, most – of the expectations I had around the whole adoption journey.
Finally, we got a match. It was as solid as these things can get – which really means no solid ground to stand on. But as most (if not all) families who choose adoption know, you learn to find your place on the most volatile surfaces, and you just have to.
So began the next part of the journey: parenthood.
Because the universe works in such a fascinating way, 3 years later we found ourselves diving back into adoption head first.
The adoption process is as unique as the children you adopt, so letting go of a previous experience is essential to ensure that you are open to whatever to expect in the next experience.
When I speak with families who have a grip on the idea that they MUST get pregnant to make their families bigger, I ask them: what is your ultimate goal? Is it to live a pregnancy? Transmit DNA? Or is it just to expand your family?
If it is the latter case, then it is important to let go of preconceived ideas about what starting a family might look like.
You have to accept the truth: you can travel to your destination on many different routes, and accepting this will help ease the travel bumps.
reEbbie scheer is a speaker, emcee, profits auctioneer, and humor strategist who resides in Denver, Colo., with her two children. Debbie talks about a variety of topics including sober living, parenting, transracial adoption, GLBTQ +, grief and resilience, privilege and mental health. When Debbie isn’t talking, moderating, or fundraising for nonprofits, she can be found forcing her kids to hike with her in the Colorado mountains.