This Is What Adoption Feels Like
By Gina Shaw
It seems so simple, and in a very basic way, it is: There are children
out there who need a warm and loving home, and there are families yearning to
provide all that and more. But making it all come together; well, that part can
Here's how five families found their way along that unforgettable journey,
and how one woman made the wrenching decision to give up her child; plus,
everything you'll need to know if you decide to make adoption a part of your
I recently found an old diary from my teenage years, where I blithely wrote
about my future, figuring I would get married at around 28 and have children
soon after. By the time I met the man of my dreams, however, I was 34 and had
almost given up on the idea of a family; I'd convinced myself I could live a
perfectly fulfilled life without children. But being with Evan soon convinced
me otherwise — I knew we were meant to raise a family together.
Again, life had other plans. I was 36 when we married, and instead of
getting pregnant, I got breast cancer. Once I came safely (more or less) out on
the other side of the treatment merry-go-round, I was nearing 40 and had little
hope of becoming pregnant.
So we chose adoption. We went through three "failed matches" —
adoptions that fell through at the last minute — and there were days when I
literally curled up on the floor, threw things at the wall, and sobbed in
despair, believing we'd never have a baby.
But then a beautiful young woman named Kim chose us to be the parents of her
daughter. I'll never forget the warm night when we watched Annika Rose take her
first breath. As Evan and I looked into her wide, alert blue eyes, we knew why
we went through everything we did. And for Annika, we'd do it all again.
There are about 135,000 adoptions in the United States every year, and each
one is unique. My friend Michele chose adoption because she felt drawn to build
her family that way; she and her husband now have a biological daughter, plus a
beautiful son from Ethiopia. My friend Viki and her husband had two pregnancies
end tragically in their quest for a third child. Then they adopted a son, now
in elementary school, who is still close with his birth family. Our neighbor
adopted from the former Soviet Union in her 40s, after coming to realize that
not having a husband didn't mean she couldn't be a mother.
No one I know who has adopted would say that the journey came without
heartache. And we all recognize that a lot of heartache is also experienced by
the birth parents, and understand that just because they weren't able to raise
their kids doesn't mean that they don't love them deeply. But even though
growing our family has been a lot harder than I ever imagined when I made that
simple life plan back in high school, I wouldn't change a single step on our
path to parenthood — because each one led us to our daughter.