As the oldest of five children, I had one sister and three brothers in my family. I loved and helped care for them starting when I was quite young. Mothering came naturally to me, and by the age of 11, I knew when I grew up, more than anything else, I wanted to be a mother. I collected clothes and quilted a baby blanket that I kept in a hope chest for the child I would have one day. I fell in love with a man who also wanted children. Bill especially wanted to have a son he could teach to fish, ride a bicycle and play baseball. From the first days after our wedding, we set out to have a family.
The months went by, then two years passed, but no baby came. Couples all around us seemed to get pregnant without even trying. I must have gone to a dozen baby showers during those early years of our marriage. I laughed with my friends as the expectant mothers opened their gifts, but I was crying inside. We decided to go see specialists, and we discovered that we both had fertility problems. I remember the months starting in the spring of 1985 as a blur of tests and fertility drugs, another ovulation on the temperature chart, more poking and prodding, the start of one more menstrual cycle.
I came to dread holiday gatherings because of the humiliating questions. Getting dressed before one New Year’s Eve party, Bill and I took bets on how many insults we’d hear that night. He said 10, and that was about right. The topper was when my Grandpa asked at the dinner table, “Haven’t you figured out how to do it yet?” “We lost that page of the manual,” I said with a smile, though his words had pierced me to the bone. Some friends I had confided in offered remedies they said had worked for people they knew. We were supposed to eat fish twice a day, make love on the night of a full moon, and I was to lie on a propped up board that stood me on my head.
I started to avoid those friends and even my business associates, fearing that someone would ask when we were going to have children or if I was pregnant yet. Bill and I continued to see a specialist who was growing less hopeful. As the months passed, life did not seem so bright. As the owner of a medium-sized manufacturing company, I had come to believe that if you wanted something bad enough, worked hard and smart enough, you could have it. But that didn’t seem to help with pregnancy. As the CEO, I came to expect that when I needed something, I could pick up the phone and have it delivered. But I could not order a baby.
In my spiritual life, I came to wonder, since I was sure that God wanted us to have children, why He had not blessed us with a family. Was I doing something wrong? I prayed for an answer and prayed for a baby. An avid reader, I bought books on infertility and human reproduction, on infant care and early childhood development. I hoped that somehow a baby might pop up out of a book as a result of all my study. I went to the library almost every day (there was no Internet yet), and the librarian became my friend. One morning she gave me a book on adoption. I took it over to a table and set it down. I sat in the chair and looked at its cover, but I could not bring myself to open it. I pushed it away and got on with my research into getting pregnant.
When I left the library, I set the adoption book next to me in the passenger seat of my car and took it home. Finally that night, I opened it and started to read. It was scary, because it was about 15 years out of date and written about the old ways of adopting, which seemed cold, secretive and formal. Then I read another book about modern adoption, which seemed warm, honest and comfortable.
After some really bad news from our doctor, Bill and I lay in bed one night talking. I saw that the door to adoption was opening, just as the door to making our own baby seemed to be closing shut.
Within days we decided to adopt. Right away it seemed like there was light shining into our lives again. We were excited about our future with children. Adoption was the answer to my questions and to my prayers.