The Emotional Labor of Adoption

I am lucky to live in a community (Bellevue, KY) with very strong parents. In that community is a woman who recently adopted a beautiful little girl. As the daughter of an adopted mother myself, Anna’s words to hit home. We spend so much time praising birth mothers for their physical and emotional strength that we forget about the other mothers among us. The ones who spend agonizing hours waiting to feel their baby’s in their arms, parents who jump through hoops with no guarantee that they get to keep the baby, parents with special needs children, and those who carry babies up until term but don't get to take them home.

Below is one woman's adoption story.

I’ve always prided myself on being ahead of the curve - I watched Making a Murderer well before the phenomena hit, I’ve been listening to Lizzo for awhile now - you get the idea. However, one area where I was late to the party was motherhood. Truth be told, I didn’t know if I had what it took for the job. And, there was the fact that I have a whopping (medical term) case of PCOS (PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome.) It causes a whole host of issues, and a major one is, you guessed it, infertility.

While I’m revealing incredibly personal information, I’ll share that I was adopted as a teensy baby by the best parents a gal could ever have. I married an incredible man, Mike, who felt as I do: that adoption is a gift. And as we talked about what our future looked like, I realized something - I profoundly wanted to be a mother and raise children with my adorable husband. We decided to adopt through a trusted agency - the same one that brought me to my parents.

Now, I don’t know if people realize adopting is not just filling out an application and then waiting for a baby to be Amazon Prime’d to you.

You have to prove you have the support system, mental stability, physical health, car, health insurance, money, job, and home (complete with a fire extinguisher on every floor- yes, they check) to raise a child. We were approved in June 2018 and, on October 22, 2018 - our 7th wedding anniversary - we learned about the baby who would become our daughter. Her birth parents, who have been together for 6+ years but never saw themselves as parents, are wonderful people who chose us from several other couples.

Our baby was born in mid-November, and the moment we saw her, Mike and I both burst into tears. There was our daughter, and she was perfect. But Ruby, as we named our little gem, wasn’t yet “ours”.

In the state of Kentucky, there is a period where the birth parents can change their mind, and there’s nothing the adoptive parents can do but wait until that ends when their rights are terminated.

To put it succinctly, that period suuuuuuuucks. Luckily for us, Ruby’s birth parents were sure of their decision, and in January, their rights were voluntarily terminated. In April, after more legal processing, we finalized her adoption and became her parents officially.

You know, Facebook is filled with affirmations about how powerful women are because they make and carry children, and I totally agree. But to be honest, sometimes I feel like I’m not as much of a Mother because I didn’t endure the physical trial and pain of pregnancy.

In darker moments, I worry that my daughter won’t have the same connection to me. But then I remember, when she cries, I’m who she reaches for. When she’s tired, it’s my shoulder she wants to sleep on. When she hears my voice in a room, she looks for me. I’m her Mother, and I love her more than I’ve ever loved anyone. I didn’t carry her in my body, I carried her in my heart, and I endured the emotional labor of trusting that she would be ours. We’re taught that Family is people who are biologically related.

I know that Family can also be a group of friends, or strangers brought together by love & life.

Genetics aren’t the only way to create those bonds or hold them together, and that’s the beauty of adoption. I know it from my life as an adopted person, and now as a parent: Love makes a Family. It has certainly made mine.

About the author: Anna Hehman is a fundraiser by day who teaches sewing on the side when she’s not shopping for vintage fabric. She’s a crafty type person who happens to believe when in doubt, add sequin. Anna lives in beautiful Bellevue, Kentucky with her incredibly patient husband Mike, gorgeous daughter Ruby and adorable albeit bossy pup, Amos.