When my beautiful and perfect baby boy was just a few months old, I was at the grocery store picking up a prescription. The pharmacist said it would be about 15 minutes until the prescription was ready, so I decided to pick up a couple of other things we needed.
As I was pushing our cart down the aisle, a woman I vaguely knew (she had worked at a store I used to shop at with my grandma) stopped me to admire my son. After gushing over how handsome and sweet he was, she excitedly told me she remembered when I was pregnant with him.
There was one problem. I have never been pregnant. My son is adopted.
When I quickly corrected her and told her I became a mom through adoption, she told me one day I could be “blessed for real” because she had a friend who had adopted and later become pregnant.
Tears started streaming down my face as I abruptly ended our conversation. It took me a lot longer than 15 minutes to get back to the pharmacy as I pushed my son in the cart around the store, trying to pull myself together.
I wasn’t crying because I have never been pregnant.
I was crying because this woman switched from admiring my son to brushing off adoption as an inferior way to become a mom. I would only be “blessed for real” in her eyes if I were to experience a pregnancy.
I wish I could say this is the first and last time I’ve encountered this attitude, but sadly, it is not.
I heard it even before I became an adoptive parent, oddly enough in a fertility charting class. The instructors told us that so many couples they knew became pregnant after adopting, because the stress of trying to conceive was over, solving the infertility problem.
I heard it the week I found out my son was coming home, from a friend who said that surely this would be the month I became pregnant since I was adopting.
I heard it at the first block party our street had after my son came home from a neighbor who told me there was “still hope” that I could become pregnant.
The thing is, I am not grieving the fact I never became pregnant. I am so happy I got to adopt my son. And I would do another adoption all over again.
Adoption was never a second best option for me. When I prayed for a child, I prayed for either adoption or pregnancy. It didn’t matter.
When I wasn’t getting pregnant, I did see doctors for infertility, but we also started the process of working with an adoption agency.
After I had laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis, the week I was recovering from surgery I was also actively working on our adoption home study. We were in the middle of the home study process and I had one of my required meetings with our social worker at the adoption agency, and also had a fire inspector out to our house to complete another requirement for it. I didn’t wait to pursue every possible infertility treatment before starting the adoption process. I didn’t need to, because I was happy to become a mom either way God would bless me with a child.
If an adoptive parent is grieving not experiencing a pregnancy, that is OK. I also know of families who have biological children who dreamed about adopting a child, but it never happened. And it’s OK if they grieve the missed experience of adoption.
But it’s never OK to assume an adoptive parent is grieving not becoming pregnant— because some, like me, are not. I would be happy if I were to get pregnant. But I won’t be unhappy if I never get pregnant.
I may never have had the chance to surprise my husband with the news we were pregnant.
I did however get to shock him with the news we were matched with a baby born over the weekend, and our child could be coming home very soon.
I may never have done a cute gender reveal where people bit into cookies or cupcakes to find out if pink or blue filling was inside.
I do know what it’s like to be so excited at finding out I’m going to be a mom that after getting off the phone with the adoption agency I realize I think they said the baby was a boy—but I was not 100 percent and needed to call back to be sure. Luckily the social worker laughed when I called back, and it probably wasn’t the first time she dealt with an overly excited mom who forgot an important detail.
I don’t know what it’s like to post a creative announcement on Facebook about a baby coming months from now.
I do know what it’s like to surprise people with an adorable new family picture that shows a baby who is already here.
I don’t know what it’s like to run into people who are excited to see that I’m pregnant and ask when I am due.
I do know what it’s like to be pushing a baby stroller through the neighborhood and have neighbors rush over and shriek with excitement that there’s a new neighbor on the street.
The experiences I had leading up to my son coming home were not the same as they would have been if I had been pregnant.
But they were no less special.
And the love I feel for my son, and all the experiences we have shared together, have made me “blessed for real.”