I know this title is shocking. People wish adoption was all rainbows and butterflies. I am way too honest not to talk about the dark side sometimes. I feel I would be doing the reader an injustice if I wasn't 100% honest about the trials and tribulations of the adoption journey of most gay men. Of course, there are other ways for the gays: turkey basters, expensive doctors, best friend surrogates, but none of those were for me.
I consider myself lucky and blessed to have become the parent to a daughter who is now 9 and a son who is now 5. (We'll have to wait and see if they'll say the same nice things about me when they're in therapy someday.) They were very different adoptions but each was covered in rainbows and butterflies. Because they came true.
But many people don't seem prepared for miscarried dreams. I have many pics of kids I thought would be "mine." Money spent in the hopes of what might be. The smiles we thought would be on their faces for a lifetime. When actually these kids were never meant to be ours, they were someone else's. This is very hard for people who are trying so desperately to love someone who needs loving back so badly.
Here's the story of one of my many miscarried adoptions.
A friend called: Someone who was pregnant was looking for a forever family. I turned to Brent (who is 47) and asked if he was ready to take the plunge again. The conversation was short even though we thought we were done having kids. We have always seen these conversations as a pregnancy. If we were a straight couple we would never do anything but have the baby. So this is our normal. We were having a baby!
Soon we found out the mother was out of state, in distress financially, and in trouble. We never ask how much or what kind of trouble; in this scenario, less is more. Less information keeps both of us safe and creates good guidelines with how involved you want to be with this stranger who is entering your life. This is where adoptive parents sigh in a knowing breath and other parents start to freak out. I have always had my straight, breeder parent-friends look at me as if I have two heads when I talk about birth mothers in trouble. They cannot understand why I would have a child with someone who is less than perfect. I mean, if the birth mothers had regular perfect lives they wouldn't be giving their kids up for adoption. What is so confusing about that?
Then the conversation got interesting. What was a single pregnancy turns into twins! It turns this experience into hyperdrive! Brent and I have to start thinking: How will we get her to Texas? How much are we willing to send her until she arrives here? She has to have food: she is pregnant with our twins! We set an amount that is good for us to kiss goodbye if this all falls through. We become very familiar with Western Union. This is another area my breeder parent-friends don't understand. "Why send money? You don't even know this woman!" they say.
"She's the MOTHER of my twins, fool! MY BABIES ARE IN HER BELLY! How can I NOT take care of her?!" we want to yell, but we don't; instead, we simply stay silent because most breeding families do not understand this conversation. And just so anyone reading knows: Sending money is very common in the adoption world. You don't hand the birth mother ten thousand dollars, but you do help her out financially to make sure she can take care of the baby. It's what we wanted to do. It's what we felt we had to do.
Weeks of talking with her turn into months. Suddenly, it's time to move her to Texas! Remember, she is pregnant with twins; what if they come early? We make phone calls trying to find a place to stay for this stranger. Imagine those fun conversations on the phone: "Um, I need a place to stay for a pregnant lady who is having twins. I plan on adopting them. By the way, I haven't met her and really don't know much about her. She may or may not be in trouble with the law. Sound good?"
You get over yourself pretty quickly when you sign up for these types of journeys, but it doesn't make them any less stressful. I talk with the birth mother on the phone, we send money, we plan the trip. She is finally on her way to Texas with our babies. A leap of faith, to say the least. How do we pay for this birth? Can we apply for Medicare? Can she? Many late night talks dusted with worries, but our commitment to this pregnancy is the same. We will just make it work.
On our birth mother's way to Texas there is a ton of communication. Then I head to the hotel that finally agreed to take her, to pay for seven nights at a time. I plead with her to be there in 30 minutes. She promises and assures me that, of course, she will. I pay the hotel. She will see us soon. We wait.
And that was the last thing we ever heard from her.
In messages left on her machine, I have since then begged her, pleaded with her, and demanded that she just tell me the truth. At this point there is no blame anymore, but I will always just wonder what the real story was. Was she even pregnant (with the possible bi-racial twin boys I had always dreamed of) or was this just a ruse to use me for money while she could? No hard feelings. Where would that get me? But what still aches me is, What was the truth? I just want to know.
Like I said, Brent and I had a set a maximum amount we felt we were willing to spend; an amount we wouldn't miss. How could we not spend it? We were pregnant. We didn't tell most of our families and friends so as not to get their hopes up. We had been down this road before. Until an adoption happens, it is just a pregnancy dream. I know, if you haven't been through an adoption journey, you're probably reading this thinking we are being overly dramatic about our losses. But for us the dream is reality; the only way we can get to the rainbows.
I remember all of my miscarried dreams. All unique in their own way. I remember the family of five kids I hadn't planned for. But I said yes, never to hear about them again. I remember saying yes to the 2-year-old girl with a heart defect who probably would die young after a surgery she would require. (Her social worker called me and questioned me and my family about how we would feel if she died. Janu was very young and I had to talk to her about it. She cried for this girl she looked at, for just a split second, as a sister. We said yes but weren't picked.) I remember them all.
I am not here to scare you. I am not telling you this to discourage you. I want you to be prepared with all this information so you CAN make it to the finish line! I want the person who is reading this to be prepared that every adoption has its miscarried dreams. But, if you keep trying, the one who for you will be there.
My kids are so worth it! I think I'm done having kids but, as Brent jokes, if we were to get "pregnant" again I wouldn't say no. Because the adoption rainbows are the brightest you have ever seen and the butterflies fly the highest, making all the miscarried dreams fade in the distance.
Rainbows and butterflies, everyone; rainbows and butterflies.