After our most recent failed adoption, Travis and I had serious conversations about whether to continue trying and for how long.
Throughout the spring, one of us would regularly reintroduce the topic: what have you been feeling about adopting again? He would feel more opposed, I more for. Then we’d switch.
There are four big considerations.
What kind of future do we want? One kid or two? More fun? More confusion? More or less freedom to travel? Fewer resources for Miles? Two kids fighting and then growing closer as they age? A bigger family unit to come together for holidays and major life changes? An especially tight bond with an only child?
The second consideration is the length of my time as a stay-at-home parent. I don’t want to wait forever to hit the restart button on this phase of my life. There are many, many things I love about being a stay-at-home parent and a (newfangled) homemaker, but it is a job and not usually an easy one.
Then there’s the thought of being solely accountable to both a newborn and a preschooler, for most of the day, every day. Can I live through another dreary winter confined to the house with little time for my own needs?
Miles is the fourth and perhaps most significant consideration. We badly want a sibling to help him learn to share space and love. A brother or a sister would give him the chance to be connected to someone more like him—a kid of color being raised by two white gay dads in a majority white community.
But I have it in my head that the sibling experience will be less valuable if they are more than four years apart. That’s like two micro generations in kid time. We’ve been in the pool of waiting families for 15 months. Miles is three and a half, turning four in December. The clock is ticking.
One evening in March, after a miserable, second attempt to get Miles comfortable with swimming lessons, I announced to Travis that I was done. I simply could not imagine adding a newborn baby into the mix. This time, we were almost on the same page.
“On Friday, assuming we feel the same, I’ll call the agency and tell them to take us off the list.” If we ended up regretting it, we could pursue foster-to-adopt once Miles was older.
If we were straight and trying to conceive, we would probably be pregnant by now. We’d have jumped into bed each of the moments we’d grown excited at the thought of a sleeping baby on our chests or when we imagined Miles tenderly holding a little sib.
That Friday in March came and went. Travis had doubts about whether he could give it up. I did too. That was the problem: we were never able to reach a wholehearted decision. I suspected it was stupid to have a child unless both of us wanted it 100%, yet I couldn’t bring myself to make the call.
It surfaced gradually, but in this mix was grief about the baby who didn’t become ours. It was not anguished or lasting, like it was when we lost a baby we’d spent 10 days caring for in 2007, but I was more affected than I initially understood.
The more we talked about continuing to try for a second child, the more I realized I was weary and sad. The thought of throwing ourselves back out there, giving ourselves up to the helplessness and lack of control, the waiting for that moment to be chosen…it was too much.
The scenario I feared (and still fear) most is a five-months-pregnant woman picking us again. The thought of that long wait, full of half planning and waiting by the phone fills me with dread. Worse is the very real possibility that we could be picked, wait for months, and still have no baby.
Then I reminded myself why I wanted to adopt in the first place. We can’t make a baby together, and there are people out there who made babies they can’t or don’t want to raise. I wanted an open adoption so that we wouldn’t be insulated from what choosing adoption means for my child’s mom.
Adoption can be beautiful, but it’s not a single story by any means. It typically brings pain, guilt, and doubt. There’s no question in my mind that the experience is harder for most birth mothers (or birth parents), than it is for the adoptive parents. (That’s not to say I think all birth mothers are in anguish about their decision.)
We were there at the hospital when Miles’ mom sobbed as she put him in our arms. Those were the most emotionally wrenching moments I’ve ever lived through.
When I relive that scene, I know I can endure another wait.
It doesn’t hurt that I’ve been feeling more certain again about wanting another baby. We had agreed we’d keep trying until the beginning of July. We know now that we can wait longer.