reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their
personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the
unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to
this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Maralee Bradley.
year into my young marriage my husband and I received an infertility
In some ways it was devastating, but we also felt confident
that we were supposed to adopt our first child. Well, eventually
we got on the same page and felt confident about that. As just about
any honest post about infertility and adoption will tell you, there’s a
grief process to go through and spouses rarely work through that all at
the same pace. For us, I was almost immediately ready to move to
adoption, but my husband took some convincing. I couldn’t convince him,
it had to be a work of faith. I actually had to give him a month where
I promised not to bring up adoption at all so he could really think
about it for himself and not just hear me in his ear telling him why
this was right for us. After that month, he was ready to move forward with
adoption, although there were still a lot of decisions left to be made.
forward eight years. We had unsuccessfully tried some infertility
treatments, had experienced two ectopic pregnancies, and had eventually
come to a point of peace about adoption being the only way we would add
to our family. Three adoptions (one international, two through
foster care) later, we were now a VERY multiracial crew- one West African
son, one Native American son, one Mexican daughter – and adoption had
become a vital part of our identity as a family. I co-lead an
infertility support group through our church and was also very involved
with children’s welfare issues through the foster care system. We had
grieved our infertility and had moved past it into a beautiful new phase
of our life.
And then I found out I was pregnant.
This is not
the moment of joy you might imagine it would be. After “trying” to get
pregnant for nearly a decade, here was a positive pregnancy test right
in front of me. Then there was a heartbeat. Instead of feeling the
joy I expected, I felt totally overwhelmed.
How could I go through a
pregnancy, childbirth, and then raise a new baby with three other kids
all under the age of five? I worried about my physical health: I was
not the 22 year-old I once was when we were first trying to get
pregnant. I felt intense guilt: would my kids resent me for being
pregnant? Would my kids resent this child for being biologically
related to us?
I had always imagined one day when I really submitted
control of this issue back to God, He might grant me this desire of my
heart. I never imagined that when I submitted it to Him, it would be
with such a peace that I really wouldn’t desire the very thing I had
cried and prayed for. And all during the pregnancy I carried the scars
and fears from having lost two babies before.
I was also very
sensitive about the things other people would say or ask. There was
sometimes a subtle (or not so subtle) implication that this child was
now the reward we’d earned for adopting the others. This was really
I also heard an amazing amount of stories from total strangers
about how other people had adopted and then had children “of their
own”. Their own? What were my adopted children if not my own? It was
frustrating to me to think somebody thought my adopted kids were some
kind of last-ditch fertility treatment that had paid off. People also
made the natural assumption that I must be thrilled to finally be
pregnant which kept me from being able to share my honest feelings.
struggled to embrace this pregnancy and the baby I was growing. I felt
like it separated me from the support of the infertility community I
had come to rely on. I was frustrated at myself for not being more
excited about the pregnancy. I worried that I would somehow treat this
baby differently than my other kids and I was never sure if I was more
worried that I’d treat him better than the others or worse! I only knew
how to be an adoptive parent so now being biologically related to my
child seemed like a foreign concept.
It was a process of dealing
with the reality of how God chose to create our family. In the end, it
wasn’t my decision and I couldn’t plan for the timing of this arrival
any more now than I could have in those early days of infertility when I
cried out to God for a child. I decided that if God thought I could
handle this situation with grace, then I was going to embrace it. It
probably wasn’t even until my son was born (on Christmas Eve, fittingly
enough) that I truly celebrated this amazing gift we’d been given. The
birth of our son is a bit of a miracle and I’m so thankful for his life.
you wonder how we have adjusted to being a family with three adopted
and one biological kids, it’s gone really smoothly. The big kids
sometimes get confused about who the baby’s birthmother is since it
seems odd to them that he just gets one mom. My oldest son asked for
awhile when we would be adopting the baby, which just made sense to him.
I have found that in the way someone who had biological kids before
adopting might say “We love our adopted child so much it’s almost like
we gave birth to him” I say, “I love my biological son so much, it’s
almost as though I adopted him.”