On our Caribbean cruise this past November Hubby & I couldn’t help but notice all the small children on board. I suppose it was only natural, given that it was the week of Thanksgiving and there were quite a few family reunions planned on this cruise. One particular child caught our eye. It was this adorable little Asian girl (I’ll call her “Gracie”), most likely only 2 or 3 years old, who was wandering around the ship’s library flipping through some picture books. I was particularly fascinated by her because this black-haired brown eyed child would have been the type of physicial attributes that Hubby & I, as Filipino Americans, would have produced. And of course, I started to feel those imaginary apron strings pulling again.
At first, we only saw the dad towards the back, looking around at different books to read. He looked a bit older in age than most of the parents with young children on the ship. And he was also Caucasian. No big deal, I remember thinking, “Gracie” could possibly be mestiza (Tagalog for “mixed ancestry”), like our nephew Tyler is. But then shortly afterwards, I saw “Gracie” run across the library towards her mom … who was clearly not Asian and who was also clearly a bit older. Wow, I remember thinking, here’s an actual family created by adoption right in front of me. I couldn’t help but smile and think how lucky they were.
Apparently “Gracie’s” dad saw my smile and smiled back at me. “She’s adorable,” I told him and both mom & dad smiled back and said their thanks. Their eyes were gleaming with pride as they walked out of the library together. I turned to Hubby and he, in turn, grabbed my hand and gave it a squeeze as if to say, “I know.”
When we returned home from this trip, I relayed this story to the Stephens Minister (SM) that I’ve been meeting with regularly and who know that adoption is our next step. She is an absolute wonderful person who has this incredible ability to see the good in every situation and give the encouragement and strength to keep the faith even when things go awry. Anyway … after telling this story to SM, she turned to me and said, “See! It’s a sign!” meaning that this little encounter was God’s way of “nudging” us to take the next step towards adoption.
In turn, I told her something that I didn’t even tell my husband back there on the ship. That I wanted to talk to the couple and ask them about the path they took to get here. And ask them if this was the best decision they ever made. And ask them how difficult it was to go through all the paperwork. And how long it took. And the list could go on and on and on.
But I didn’t ask those questions because I thought it would be intrusive and embarrassing. I mean, it’s one thing to go to adoption seminars and ask these questions in front of a crowd who is also at these seminars for the same reason. It’s another thing to ask these questions face-to-face with someone else on a personal level. I guess it’s the fear in me that I might say or ask something stupid or get too personal with my own IF issues that it might make the other person uncomfortable. My past experiences, even with support groups or even other non-IF related groups, has taught me to feel uncomfortable in doing this. Or hey, it may even be the Asian American in me (who is supposed to keep these issues private) that makes me feel uncomfortable in those type of situations. In any case, I truly did regret that I never got my chance to ask “Gracie’s” parents about their experiences.
A couple weeks ago, as I was in pursuit of doing some adoption research, I approached my one co-worker who’s son and DIL just adopted domestically, about which agency that they had used. In the past, she had shared with me their “Dear Birth Mom” letter and I remember not only being pretty impressed but pretty overwhelmed with what they had done. In any case, my coworker told her she wasn’t quite sure about those details but that she would ask her DIL about it and get back with me. “Better yet,” she said, “why don’t I have her call you?” I was a little hesitant at first, but then thought the chances of receiving that call were slim to none.
Imagine my surprise this past week when K (co-worker’s DIL) called me. I just happened to be at work when the call came through my cell phone. Lucky for me, I was able to find a small conference room to duck into while K and I chatted. I won’t go into the details of our conversation, but I can tell you that I was able to ask her those questions that I wasn’t able to ask “Gracie’s” parents. And ultimately what I got out of it was a sense of relief. That we shared similar disappointments and heartaches (as many of us IF’ers do here online). That we internalized many of the same feelings of failures towards our body and of letting down our spouses and other family members. While it’s been very therapeutic to voice these same feelings on my blog or even reading and commenting on other IF’ers blogs, being able to say these things out loud and to a live person was simply incredible. Especially because in the ten-plus years of trying to start a family, I’ve never been able to completely let my guard down with someone regarding these feelings to any one else other than Hubby. (No, not even my SM. Okay, maybe with my incredible therapist …) And to be able to do that within a 30 minute conversation with K … during work hours, nonetheless … was so refreshing.
At home later that evening, I was reflecting on my conversation with K and I finally felt a sense of … not peace, per se. Not even relief, because that’s what I was feeling earlier in the day. I think it was a feeling of content. Meaning that I’m finally at a place where I know Hubby & I are making the right decision by not giving up our dream to be parents. And that by taking the adoption route, our dreams will come true.