Wednesday, November 14, 2012


November is National Adoption Awareness Month. In the Smith Household, some assume we must be aware - very aware - every minute of every day, of all things adoption.

We're not.
And then again, I suppose we are.

The truth is, our story is not all that different from those whose children came to them biologically. While some choose to disagree - and trust me, they do so OUT LOUD - motherhood and fatherhood have very little to do with DNA. I can say this because, well, I have one whose DNA is mine and one whose DNA is not. Irregardless, I am equally theirs and they are both equally mine.

In the name of all things awareness, I hope that what people become most aware of is how their language could make an adoptee feel - as if they don't belong or fit, as if they weren't wanted, as if they were given some sort of gift by being raised by people like us.

Look at my child. Look at him closely. The gift was ours. Completely and totally ours. And he was wanted by everyone involved. EVERY ONE. This is, after all, how he came to be, and how he came to be ours.

I was 30 when Trevor and I married. Trevor was 32. We knew we wanted to have a family right away. We had had our 20s - we had traveled, settled into our careers, bought homes, and maybe stayed out a bit late on more than one occasion. When we found each other, we fell in love hard and fast. We were engaged within eight months and married nine months after that. I had been through enough to know that when choosing a life partner, I needed someone who I could picture standing by my side through the birth of children and the eventual passing of parents. Trevor was that man. 

Four months after our wedding, I was pregnant. We told everybody. We went to the doctor and had blood work done. Everything was confirmed. I felt great - so great, that I started to innately know that something was wrong. But I tried to talk myself out of it. Eight weeks in, we lost the pregnancy. I was devastated. Completely devastated. And I thought it was all my fault. It was my body that had not done what it was supposed to do. I was a failure. There were no explanations other than I had what was called a blighted ovum, where a sperm and egg fertilize but due to chromosomal abnormalities, a fetus never develops. I was told it statistically wouldn't happen again. To stay positive. To keep hope. 

It took an entire year to get pregnant again. But I did get pregnant again. This time, though, we didn't celebrate. We told only our closest family and friends. We remained subdued so as not to jinx anything. We had already learned that excitement on the outside could blow up in your face. Literally. So we kept it inside and told ourselves we were unattached. That we just had to wait and see. But we lied to ourselves. Because six weeks later, when we went in for our first doctor appointment, it was a blighted ovum. Again. And deep down inside, I already knew. My mom held one hand, my husband held the other, and we walked out of the doctor's office in silence. One week before Christmas, I had a D&C. On Christmas Day, I had a breakdown of proportions I am sure not many in my family had seen before. Trevor simply spooned me. Yes, he spooned me as I laid there incapacitated from grief. I knew I had married the right man.

So I grieved. I grieved and I grieved and I grieved. I grieved the plan and the dream. I grieved the idea of never being a mother. Like never. I grieved the fantasy of feeling the kicks from the inside and the visitors at the hospital. I let it all go. Literally all of it. And I had to so that I could move on, so that I could begin to see that my path to motherhood was supposed to be different.

The thing is, I always knew I would adopt. Before marriage and the miscarriages, I knew without explanation that I would adopt. I have no idea why. It's hard to explain in words a knowing of that kind. But I knew, and before we ever got married, Trevor and I had talked about it and he knew too. So in January of 2010, we began the months of paperwork. By the end of May, everything was complete and in order. After doing our research, we submitted our paperwork to an adoption referral agency and began the process of waiting. We expected to wait a year, or maybe even two.

Two and a half weeks later the phone rang. Three days after school let out, on June 15, 2010, we received the call we had expected to wait months and months for. There was a birthmother in Las Vegas. She was delivering that day. They were ready to move forward. Were we? 

This moment, my friends, was our positive pregnancy test. Some of us pee on sticks and others of us get calls. We got a call. It was a positive. We got on a plane two days later to pick up our baby boy. When we arrived at the hospital, he was sleeping in his birthmother's arms. It is hard to explain the love we felt for her and for him. This was our delivery. After months and months of pushing, he was here. And because of her, her selflessness and her unbending love for her boy, our dreams came true.

I have struggled with faith my entire life. I have always had too many unanswered questions and by nature, am a bit of a cynic. But when my son was placed in my arms, the doubts disappeared. Cliche, perhaps, but true. Was there any other way to experience it? After all, when I was drowning in grief over my second miscarriage, another woman was busy making a plan for her unborn son - a plan that would answer my prayers. God sends us our children in may ways - some come through us, some come through others. 

My first son came to me through another. 

My first son shares his papa's passion for soccer and my tendencies to veer on the side of the over-dramatic.

My first son does not share my DNA. In fact, he looks nothing like me. And to answer those questions that I intellectually understand come from a place of not-knowing, but that I emotionally do not understand because I will lay myself down for my child:

No, HE didn't cost a lot of money.

Yes, he was completely healthy when he was born.

She made an adoption plan, she did not give him away.

I know you could never do it. But she could because she loved him more than she loved herself.

I am sorry you feel like you couldn't love someone who wasn't your "own." Seriously, I am sorry for you from the very depths of my soul. I wish you could understand.

He is MY OWN. They are BOTH MY OWN.

I know you hear the story all of the time - the one where a couple adopts and then gets pregnant immediately after that. For the record, it statistically only happens to 3% of couples. You hear it all of the time because those are the stories that you remember. But just so you know, when we adopted our son, it wasn't in the hopes that it would somehow bring about pregnancy. HE was our hope. HE was our dream. We had the child we were supposed to have, and we knew it from the very depths of our souls.

No, DNA does not make a mother or a father. It also does not make a brother. You can ask Noah if you want. He joined us one year and 13 days after his brother did. God sent us this one through me. Come spend an evening in my home and you will witness what makes a brother. I realize my boys are 2 1/2 and 1 1/2, and that perhaps someday they might sit down and share a philosophical discussion about their genetic codes, but right now, brotherhood is shared in laughter straight from their guts. It is shared in building Lego towers and knocking them down with gusto. It is also shared in knocking each other down with gusto, but I digress.

I have two sons. Two sons, at one point, I had given up hope for. Two sons who do not match the pictures I created in my mind when I envisioned Trevor-Sara babies. Two sons who are better than I could have ever imagined. Sons who call me mama and Trevor papa and each other brother.

November is Adoption Awareness Month. Be aware of the ways families are made. Be aware of the words you say and how they might make others feel. My miscarriages are a distant memory now and a blessing in disguise - those are my favorite kinds of blessings, by the way.

'Cause just look at what those blessings look like. Look at them. They are my everything. My every little thing. One came through me and one came through another. It's that simple. It really, really is.


PRP said...

Oh Sara, so beautifully written and the perfect story for Nico and Noah. I watched you mother other children before these two came to you and knew that this is what you were meant to do. You are a divine mother in every possible way and sharing this part of their story in the way that you did is perfection.

Much love to you and your sweet boys. (Trevor too!)

Melanie said...

This is beautiful and needs to be shared! I'm so thankful that you are sharing it with us.

McCayla B said...

So beautiful. So amazing. So encouraging. So, so true. Bless you for sharing your story and giving others (us) hope... sweet hope.