Every so often I receive advice from other moms who, upon learning of my experiences with infertility and adoption, wish to help me conceive a child. Such words of wisdom are very familiar, and are certainly not limited to the mouths of acquaintances. Friends, family and strangers on occasion will recommend - always very kindly and with the best of intentions - various fertility-inducing methods ranging from dietary changes, the use of NFP, yoga, progesterone, vitamins and herb supplements, acupressure, and a whole host of other treatments.
Such an occasion occurred recently, and though I won't bore you with details, I will say that my daughters were with me at the time. Unfortunately the elder of the two is now capable of comprehending more than she could in the past, and thus the questions later arose. "Do you want to have a baby, Mama? In your belly?"
Gianna's curiosity was good and natural for a child who was borne into her family through adoption. I responded to her in plain truth and with great satisfaction, "No, Gianna. I'd like to have all my babies just the same way I had you." As was shown on her face and in her loving smile, she was pleased with my answer and went on about her business of imaginative play (shepherdess style!) with her sister. As to the well-intended fertility advice from others, I give them the same response: "Thank you, but I no longer desire to conceive a child. I am happy with adoption as my means to motherhood. "
Before Gianna the stirring desire to be a mother was in part about raising and nurturing children from birth to adulthood, and in part about the experience of bearing a child in my womb. I wanted to feel a baby's kick in my belly. I wanted to experience morning sickness, wear maternity clothes, and to give birth gloriously (at least that's how I imagined it) at the end of nine months. And out of all that would come a baby resembling me or my husband, both physically and temperamentally. Perhaps she would have my smile and my husband's eyes, or my optimism and his perseverance. Such child-bearing experiences and such genetic qualities passed down seemed very important. That is, until the day I adopted my first baby.
We brought baby Gianna into our home for the first time on a cold, snowy Michigan afternoon, the natural sunlight dimmed by heavy grey clouds outside our patio door. But inside our one-bedroom apartment was a warmth, coziness, and love abounding from a tiny, eight-pound sun ray that lit up my whole world. Our small home which had once felt at times lonely and cold, as though it was missing something, transformed instantly into the home of a family, its walls containing a fulfillment before unknown to me. Just one new life, and so much change.
I remember holding Gianna in my arms that first day home pondering, "Is that all I had to do to gain this reward?" The years of childlessness and suffering which accompanied them seemed insignificant. Certainly, they were. I would have endured them another six years for the happiness that came from those first moments of motherhood. I imagine it is something like the moment we enter Heaven.....to see God face to face and realize how little was asked of us for such a reward.
I never anticipated my desire to bear children naturally would ever disappear. After all, I knew adoptive mothers who felt they were still missing something, even after having adopted. I don't fault women for such feelings - I do recall the pain of childlessness - but I haven't any experience of resentment or wondering. The beauty of adoption is what I know. It is the way I have children and the means by which I've received every moment of motherly fulfillment. It is how my life and my home transformed into blessings I appreciate each and every day. It is what brought me peace and contentedness, and removed the desire for anything other than what I already have. It is my vocation.