The week that I turned 30, two things happened that changed my life forever: the first was learning that my mum’s cancer was terminal and she had perhaps six months to live. The second thing was being told by my gynecologist that I had premature ovarian failure, so I was highly unlikely ever to become pregnant, carry a baby to term, or even have biological children via surrogate.
I have written in earlier posts that I have always wanted to adopt children. This was true then and remains true now.
But when you have just learned that you are about to lose the person who carried you for nine months and who shares half of your DNA, suddenly being able to do the same takes on a special significance.
More poignantly still, in that moment, I also lost the possibility of being able to produce someone who shared a quarter of the same genes as my mum, someone who would contain a little bit of her that would remain with me after she was gone.
I wasn’t trying to replace or recreate my mum of course; that would be an insult both to her and to the child. But suddenly that tie to the profound continuity of life contained within our bodies and our chromosomes was abruptly severed at both ends.
Though I was to be referred to various specialists and worked my way into numerous clinics, I found that my chances of success were so slim and the regimes so grueling that I invested no real hope in them.
Much the same was true of the adoption process: an infinite series of meetings and an avalanche of forms that resulted only in making the dream of parenthood seem less and less likely.
I was, I reasoned, simply not meant to be a mother.
Coming to terms with this was somewhat deferred as I was then preoccupied with my mum’s palliative care. It was only after she died and the shock of her loss gave way to the numbing grief at her absence, that I began to feel my childlessness profoundly.
I researched what options might still be available, but between our age, religious affiliation (or lack thereof) and a host of other seemingly arbitrary but nevertheless restrictive factors, it looked like a very dim possibility.
Then, over a random lunch meeting, the hubs met someone who was looking for families interested private adoptions. These arrangements are unusual, mostly unscripted, and have the potential to backfire because rather than going through a government agency, biological parents and adoptive parents make arrangements directly with one another.
A few weeks later, the hubs and I spoke to our future son’s biological mother for the first time.
We chatted every week or two on the phone for the next few months.
We drove across three provinces to meet her a few weeks before he was born.
We battled red tape and hospital policies when he was born just to be allowed to bring him home.
We held him in our arms and stared at him for hours, drinking in the smell of his newborn skin, the sound of his soft breathing as he slept, oblivious to the events that had brought us together.
It’s now been five years, and I still catch myself looking at this amazing little boy in absolute wonder as I remind myself for the millionth time that I am, indeed, his mother.
I was tagged by the lovely Absolutely Prabulous to participate in the #ImAMumWho series. I would like to nominate Haidee at Maybe Baby Brothers and encourage anyone who reads this post and who would like to participate to please join in and let me know so I can read your post too!