Some people say they were a mom the moment the peed on a stick. Others say it became real when they heard the heart beat for the first time on the ultrasound. For others, it was when they could feel their little one kick from the inside out. Some say it was the moment when they gave birth to their son or daughter and heard them cry for the first time. For some moms, it takes a little longer to feel like mom.

I didn’t have any of those experiences. I never took a pregnancy test. Not ever. I never laid on the table while someone squirted cool gel on my protruding belly to listen for my child’s heartbeat. I never felt a baby give me a kick from the inside. I wasn’t there when my babies cried for the first time. I didn’t hold them first. In fact, I didn’t even know they existed right away.

My journey to motherhood was a little different than most. We didn’t go about it the old fashioned way. After learning that biological kids wouldn’t be a good option for us, we turned to adoption. Adoption certainly isn’t the easy way out. It’s complicated, messy and one of the biggest emotional rollercoasters I have ever been on. There were some incredible highs and some hard lows. Yet, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Witnessing my daughter’s first mom say good-bye was hard. Trauma. It left me catching my breath and left the young mom a shell of who she once was. Screams. Tears. Eventually she just went numb. But those moments, helped me to become a better (adoptive) mom.

Adoption is what made me a mom. I don’t know that I can pinpoint a specific moment when I felt like a mom. Especially for the first time. Was it when we got that phone call telling us we were picked? Was it when I first laid eyes on my son for the first time? Was it on the car ride home when I couldn’t stop staring at this beautiful baby as I made phone call after phone call to tell friends and family that I was mom- that we were parents? Was it at court when our children were finally legally recognized as our own?

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter that I wasn’t there for the first few days and that I missed some pretty big firsts. I’m still very much mom- my most treasured title I have. A title I happen to share with some other women. The women who carried our children for 9 months, who cared enough to shower those little lives with love. The women who felt trapped without any good options. The women who sadly learned that love isn’t always enough. If it was, they would be rocking motherhood and my arms would remain empty.

I don’t understand why I’m the one with the full hands and the even fuller heart and why they were the ones with the full wombs who are now watching their blood grow up from a distance. We can forever play the “what if” game, but at this point it won’t make a difference. The most important thing though is that my kids were loved, are loved and always will be loved. They got what they needed in the beginning from their first mom and I’m trying to do my best now. A tag-team of sorts. Both playing very different, yet hugely important roles in our children’s lives. Both loving them fully and wanting nothing but the best.

Adoption isn’t always easy. We’ve had to have some difficult conversations and those conversations will continue. Our kids are starting to process their stories. But that’s also just like motherhood. For as hard as it is, it’s also so incredibly rewarding. It’s pretty much the best thing ever and I’m forever thankful to the women who allowed me to share this journey with them.

Alissa Kay

Alissa was born and raised in the Midwest and currently calls Wisconsin home. She's happily married to her college sweetheart and she's living out her dreams of being a stay-at-home mom. Although, let's be real, she's hardly ever home. She's the mom to 3 kids who all came to her via adoption. A boy (8) and 2 girls (6 and almost 4!). The kids keep her plenty busy, but when she has free time she enjoys a night out with friends or curling up with a good book.