Miss E admiring her shadow
Baby E checking out the melting snow
It is often assumed that Steve and I adopted because of infertility. This is not the case. We adopted because in March of 2006, I was diagnosed with type I diabetes. Type I diabetes is incurable, only manageable. I'm not going to sugarcoat (no pun intended) this disease; it's 24/7/365, and it's really really really difficult. This March will mark my six year D-Day anniversary.
Pregnancy with type I is challenging, to say the least. I have long struggled with hormone shifts and my blood sugars. Pregnancy is one constant hormone shift. The potential complications of pregnancy with type I diabetes are scary. And there is a small (but significant, when it's your family!) risk of passing type I diabetes on to biological children. (In fact, I know someone with type I who has four children. All four children have type I).
I felt like having biological children, knowing my reality, would be selfish of me. Does biology really matter? There are children who need homes. Adoption was an option for us---financially speaking.
We were questioned, numerous times, when we announced we wanted to adopt. "Don't you want your own?" or "Maybe after you adopt you can try for your own kids?" Or my favorite, "I know someone with diabetes who had six biological kids with no issues!" followed by arched eyebrows indicating that he or she was waiting for me to embrace them and say, "You are so right! Forget about adoption!"
The greatest sadness in my heart wasn't from saying "goodbye" to the idea of sonograms and an expanding tummy and wondering if the baby would have my good looks (wink) or my husband's. Rather, my sadness came from the assumption by the general public that adoptive families are second-class, less-than, to biological families.
The woman I call Grandma isn't my biological grandmother. She became my Grandma through a series of family events----many of them quite sad and depressing and revolting----that led my parents to the people I call my grandparents, the people whom I have no biological connection to. Did it matter to me? No. I wanted someone to say, "I'm proud of you," someone to tease me, someone to shower me with affection and gifts and Sunday dinners and open arms. My grandparents provided that voluntarily---thank God. Do I feel that I missed out on not having my biological grandparents do these things for me? Honestly, no.
When we were deciding between having biological kids and adopting, it really came down to my disease. Were we willing to take the gamble? To put my health and our future child's health on the line for the sake of biology? The answer was no.
I do know women with type I who have had healthy pregnancies and healthy children, like my friend Kerri over at Six Until Me and Amy who wrote a phenomenal book called The Smart Woman's Guide to Diabetes (which I was interviewed for---an contributed info on adoption as an option for diabetic women). Each diabetic journey is very different, and these two women, along with many others, were able to successfully have biological children.
But it wasn't the right or best choice for me.
Now that we have two kids, no one asks why we adopted. The kids are here with us, and we are a pretty fab family. United we stand. :)
My heart hurts for families facing infertility. But I want to say that having children isn't a right; it's a gift. And sometimes that gift comes in ways we don't plan for or initially embrace.
I didn't want diabetes. I wouldn't wish this disease----the constant testing and doc appointments, the highs and lows, the never-ending awareness that I am not normal---on my worst enemy. It can be insanely depressing, daunting, and debilitating. But, without it I wouldn't have chose adoption, and I wouldn't have my girls.
Choosing adoption shouldn't be something people pity or surrender to or sigh and say, "Ok. Fine. If there's no other way...." Adoption is what it is---different. Unique. Exciting. Rewarding. It's possibility, it's joy, and it's love.
I'll close with this:
Each morning I have the privilege of getting my daughters up and out of bed. My Baby E's breathing becomes increasingly rapid as I approach her crib, and she says, "MAMAMAMAMA!" Sometimes she grins, or sometimes she's ready for breakfast and fusses. I then go to her sister's room. Miss E is usually perched on the side of her bed. Sometimes she immediately tells me a story or shares a thought or asks a questions. Other times she directs all her attention to her sister and says, "Good morning! Did you have a good rest?" This is Baby E's cue to either squirm away from her sister's grasp or fully embrace it---mouth wide open---bestowing a slobbery kiss on the side of her sister's face. We head to the kitchen where I prepare their favorite whole wheat waffles. The day begins---fresh and full of possibilities, opportunities, and moments-turned-memories.