One of the things little girls often remember from their childhood is carrying around a doll baby and taking care of it as if it were real. Early on, we’re introduced to the idea of motherhood and what it could entail. Many times, we keep our goals for motherhood high on our lists of priorities as we navigate our way through education, careers, and love.
As we grow older, starting a family becomes a concentrated part of a woman’s life. Conversations surrounding motherhood are suddenly intentional and planning to become a mom becomes very strategic. We learn about our ovulation schedules, basal body temperatures, the perfect sexual positions to conceive a child (insert eye roll), and anything that can encourage conception and pregnancy. We spend tons of money on baby showers and gifts for the expecting moms in our lives. We double-tap on Instagram pictures featuring adorable babies in barrettes and bowties. We travel down baby aisles in big box stores looking at clothes, smelling baby lotion, and ooh-ing and ahh-ing at any and everything baby-related.
After all of the time and energy spent on baby fever, we’re sometimes left feeling alone, ashamed, confused and heart-broken when we discover how hard it is to conceive a child on our own, or find out that we’re incapable of conceiving period. Perhaps we are capable of conceiving, but without the “right man,” and as time continues to move closer to advanced maternal age, motherhood seems out of reach. If we leave motherhood up to our biological clocks, physical abilities and the man of our dreams, things could get tricky. However, more and more women are looking to adoption to have the children they’ve always dreamed of raising.
My personal story is one that includes seriously considering adoption. In fact, just the thought of the adoption process has affected multiple parts of my life, including my career, my finances and my love interests. I switched from being a consultant to becoming an employee so that I could take advantage of the family benefits that some major companies offer, including adoption assistance. My financial plan includes a traditional savings plan, a retirement plan, stocks and bonds, and a designated adoption fund to strategically help me save towards the pricey process. And, although my medical history won’t allow me to conceive, when I meet a man that I think could be “the one,” the adoption conversation is a prerequisite to third base. I need to know if he’s okay with building a family via adoption. I’m certainly not alone in my thoughts on the matter. There are many women like me who are actively pursuing adoption.
“I’ve always imagined having children naturally, but while chasing career goals I lost sight of that dream. It wasn’t until I faced the harsh realities of potentially not being able to conceive if my [fibroid] surgeries didn’t go right that I started weighing my options outside of natural birth which would include adoption,” Kitty Bradshaw shared.
Bradshaw, 40, frequently travels coast to coast on journalism assignments and has struggled with fibroids, a medical condition which could lead to infertility, for years. Her sentiments ring loud and true with many women in this situation. When it comes to motherhood, it can feel like having to choose one life goal over another. If you prioritize a stable career over starting a family, before you know it, a doctor could be telling you it’s highly unlikely for you to naturally conceive a child. Those thoughts used to be a “death sentence” for women who wanted to be mothers. However, now that conversations about exploring adoption are more open, women who are told that they’ll need to reroute their path to motherhood are feeling more confident about ultimately having the family they’ve always wanted.
For women who, at one time, wouldn’t have imagined starting a family without a husband or a long-term relationship, adoption is a way to start a family while Prince Charming finds his way into her life. “In my mind, I was done with love but I still held out hope of finding the man for me. As time moved on, I realized that I should focus on me. My mom was focused on being a grandmother, but I wanted to do it the right way,” Katrina Williams explained.
In her candid discussion about her decision to adopt, Williams shared sentiments many women are starting to express about changing ideals toward motherhood. Unlike the nursery rhyme that states “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a baby carriage,” women aren’t prolonging their dreams of motherhood while waiting for the right man. “After some time, I gave in and went to an information session about adoption. Around the same time, I met the most beautiful baby boy. He was not up for adoption but I was in love. Eventually, he was available and the rest is history,” Williams said of her son whom she adopted 14 years ago. At the time, she was a 28-year-old social worker who knew firsthand the dire need for adoptive parents and that she was ready to make a decision about growing her family. Now, she holds two advanced degrees that have allowed her to provide financially for their family without the presence of a man in their lives.
Considering adoption doesn’t have to be looked at as an “alternative” for starting a family. Sometimes adoption presents itself as the best solution to having a family and providing a sense of belonging, stability and unconditional love for a child. The conversations around adoption should be taken seriously and women should be taken seriously about their desires to be mothers—whether it’s biological or otherwise — with a husband or without one. The title of motherhood doesn’t have to be narrowed down to a woman’s ability to carry a child. It’s about her willingness and ability to raise one.