The Journey to Mommyhood

We walked through the airport in Europe..August 2010.  I was pushing my 19 month old son in his stroller while my husband lugged the carry-ons.  People stared at us trying to figure out the connection.  The “triad” I believe they call it in the international adoption workshops we attended in the months waiting for our adoption to be finalized.  They look at you, look at your child, look back up at you, look at your spouse, back at your child…in a nice triangle formation.  This was the first time I had experienced this with such intensity.  Some people smiled and spoke to my son in German while others just stared.  My son is too young to know that we will experience this for most likely the rest of our lives.  It’s my job as his mother to prepare him for this but here I am a forty something year old grown woman and I gotta say after all the workshops and classes I attended, even I wasn’t prepared.  Regardless, this is a regular occurance for families formed by international adoption. 

It took me a while to decide if I was going to blog about this.  It’s clearly a topic that I hold very personal.  The journey to become a mother has been one of intense pain like I never imagined and immense joy that I never expected.  I don’t talk about the journey with very  many people.  It’s too much to sort through.  I’ve written no songs about it..no journal entries….I just don’t go there.  But as an artist I know that releasing it is the first step to evolving and healing.  I also know that once you let it go you find out you are not alone.  Many others have been through the same experience.  So for the ones still in the middle of the process…or the others unable to express what they are feeling or the ones who will never know….I write this….. 

No need to bore you with the medical details as to why I do not have a biological child however I will say that I think that as women we have this idea in our heads that when we are ready for a family it will just happen.  This unfortunately isn’t the case with a LOT of folks.  You will have to defend yourself against the million of those “none of your damn business” questions as to why you don’t already have your “own kids”.  After endless intrusive tests we determined that our best chance at becoming parents would be through invitro fertilization.  (IVF)  What a rollercoaster ride that is.  So you spend months injecting yourself with hormones to get pregnant…then hormones to keep you pregnant.  I was a pin cushion..shooting myself up at work and at band rehearsal.  I was also on autopilot.  Not allowing myself to get too happy or too sad.  Just dealing with the changes.  Over 2 years I was pregnant several times and lost all of those children within 8 weeks.  I watched their hearts beat on the ultrasound screen and I watched them fade.  I kept my heart on lockdown as I wept silently and usually alone mourning these children I would never see and never hold.   Letting insensitive comments like “at least you didn’t lose a ‘real’ child” or “you can try again” pass over me from folks who have no damn clue what I am going through.  The pain was too intense to even describe. 

Regardless…after many miscarriages and surgeries and thousands of dollars we were done.  We knew of a few friends who had adopted and several who had gone the international route.  Now enter another wave of intrusive questions….”why aren’t you adopting children here in the U.S.?”…”there are so many kids who need homes..why aren’t you adopting OUR kids?”.  Funny these comments usually come from parents with flocks of biological children they can barely control.  “uhhhh why didn’t YOU adopt some of those kids??” was my thought….but I never spoke it. 

The fact of the matter is when you are in your 40s you are old news in the domestic adoption world.  In domestic adoption it’s a popularity contest.  The birthmother choses who she wants to raise her child.  And you best believe she isn’t going to choose someone the age of her mother.  We weren’t prepared to deal with another round of rejection and heartache.  With international adoption, especially from Korea, you are guaranteed a child.  And Korea is the “cadillac” of international adoption.  There is prenatal care for the mother, well baby visits, and the children are with foster families before being placed…they never stay in orphanages.

I had let go of the idea of having a biological child.  My pain from that was gone.  I knew that being pregnant doesn’t make you a mother and that there was a different calling for me.  I let all of the past float away.  I let the universe decide what would be. We jumped through the hoops of international adoption.  We underwent psychological testing, medical exams, health and fire department inspections of our home, my pets had to be registered, my refrigerator couldn’t have anything expired in it, the water couldn’t be too hot, we needed organized closets and pantries, and baby locks on our cabinets even though we had no children yet.   We filled out forms and questionaires for Korea and sent pictures of my husband and me and of our home.  We went through the numerous workshops and home visits.  It seemed neverending.  We were finally approved and waiting for our son.  On April 24th, 2009 we received the first pictures of our son Alex.  We were overjoyed.  But the waiting continued.  We got monthly updates of his health.  “Big Happy baby” was the common theme. 

Then in July of 2009 we had a setback.  We received notice from our social worker that the birthmother was having second thoughts.  In her many years as a social worker this had never happened.  (not comforting in the least bit!)  I was numb.  My husband was angry.  Our baby had a name, a nursery newly decorated and ready for him, grandparents carrying his picture around.  This cannot happen.  But truthfully, deep in my heart I felt so bad for my son’s mother.  I can’t imagine the pain of giving birth to a baby and letting him go forever.  Letting him go to a country you will most likely never visit and to strangers you will never know.  So even though my pain was intense it was nothing like she was feeling.  I sat in my son’s waiting nursery one night with a candle burning.  I just sat there.  No prayers.  I just tried to feel what she was feeling and to somehow let her know that he would be loved here and that it was okay.  I just let go of it all and tried to hold on to the fact that if she decided to keep him, it would be the best choice for him.  Even now I cry typing this.  It was such a surreal time in my life.   

We waited endless weeks in limbo as the birthfamily wavered.  I felt that if the adoption went through and we finally got our son, that one day I could at least tell him something that most adoptive parents cannot say with such certainty….that his mother wanted him….that she had second and third and fourth thoughts.  That she tried everything to keep him.  I knew in my soul she was a good person and had a conscience.  And these were qualities that also would reside in my child.  I could tell him this with no doubt. 

On September 29th, 2009 my son arrived with a Korean escort at Dulles airport.  He wanted nothing to do with me and clung to my husband for dear life.  He screamed all the way home…my husband in the back seat trying to calm him.  Me sitting in the front passenger seat completely speechless and my friend driving and holding my hand.  They don’t have carseats in Korea…they don’t sleep in cribs….they don’t use pacifiers.  We spent several weeks getting him adjusted to our world.  We slept on the floor with him.  We held him tightly when he awoke screaming, no doubt subconsciously mourning his foster family of 6 months….the only family he has ever known. 

It took some time but now….a year and a half later my two year old is without a doubt MY child.  He wants “mommy” most of the time now.  Speaking in full sentences and way too big for me to be picking up all of the time!!  And somehow he has my fiesty disposition.  🙂  I have learned that I don’t have to answer the curious questions of strangers if I don’t want to.  And I will teach him the same.  His story is his personal business and his decision if he wants to share it.  What more do you need to know?  Yes he is MY child.  What is that insensitive question you just asked me???  “How much did he cost?”  LOL  Why my dear….he is PRICELESS!! 

Much love and light….

Janice B.

15 thoughts on “The Journey to Mommyhood”

  1. Your posts, like your lyrics, resonate deeply with me. Not because this is my story, but because of the deeply heartfelt way in which you opened up to share it with your fans and readers. Alex is as blessed to be a part of your family as you are to have him. Whatever his mother’s initial hesitation may have been, I’m glad that she came to know and accept that you were what was best for him. May the ignorance of others never cloud your judgment nor negatively impact your day. You were made to be a mother, and what a wonderful mother you have made. Love you, sis!

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  2. Janice, I’m incredibly impressed over your courage to share this and to share it in your wonderful talented way of finding words for profound moments like only the most gifted lyricists and writers can! Plus: I had literally no idea of what you had gone through, when we briefly met in the summer of 2010, wow! When I started reading your blog entry, I couldn’t help going “Yeah – the staring… next to our terrible history, that’s yet another embarrassing ‘trait’ we have an unfortunate reputation for… :/ ” And then you went on to describe, how this is likely to happen everywhere and how it reflects people’s own insecurity in dealing with a situation that sounds like it involved pretty much everything that any parent will have experienced. (look, who’s talking – as if I knew anything about THAT now… ;)).
    I will always respect you for sharing that night, when you attempted to sense and feel Alex’s biological mother…I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around this… Much can be said about what a mother feels about life growing inside of her – which is an experience I or any man will never have. But I imagine it to be one of the most intense experiences any human can possibly have. When you’ve experienced that – and then come to find and decide that you need to set your own feelings aside on behalf of the best for your child … like I said – can’t even begin to wrap my mind around it. But I do get an idea now, after you’ve shared this one night with us.

    If I were a better lyricist, I might have found better words than more exclamatives… which I’m going to spare us now… I think, Antoinette has said most of what there might be to say …
    In any case: Thank you for expanding my horizon that way – that is an entire realm of experience, I had no idea of…

    I’m glad for all of you that now there is a healthy family of three.
    w.

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    1. Thanks Wes! Wow I’m speechless…I had no clue people were going to be so moved by this. For the record, the German folks were very kind. They were of course curious when they saw us with Alex because multi racial families formed by adoption isn’t a common thing over there. But everyone was very gracious and sweet.

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  3. My BEAUTIFUL Sister…. I am filled with so many emotions right now…. I am crying my heart out and jumping full of JOY!! My tears of pain are witnessed through your eyes and my tears joy are like waterfalls flowing through your soul. Your heart spoken words allowed me to travel the journey with you…. I thank you for sharing such a personal part of your world with me and others. God places us on paths that we may not always understand and at times, may be very painful. However, at the end of the day… we are right where he wants us to be, no questions asked. Alex was born to be your son and blessed with the BEST Mommie EVER!!! I love you my sister, my friend… God Bless You All.!!

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    1. Thanks Angela! Yes I also believe that Alex was meant to be a part of our family. I can’t imagine my life without him.

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  4. the journey doesn’t end when the baby is in your arms… it ends when your at there wedding and your giving them away to there mate… i think the hardest thing as a woman for me was surrendering 3 of my 6 children for adoption.. yes the birth mother has a hard decision to make when giving there child for adoption.. they have to keep everyone in mind.. and i did.. i knew the best thing for them was letting someone else do my job.. really my job was simply giving them birth.. anyone can do that but it takes a real woman to take care of them and it takes an even bigger woman to admit she can’t do it… i swear if nothing else i am so happy that you got your baby….. god is the best of planners and knowers… always

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    1. Thanks Destiny. I know you had a hard decision to make and your story is the other side of the coin in this. Thanks for sharing it.

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  5. Very good blog you have here but I was wondering if you knew
    of any forums that cover the same topics talked about here?
    I’d really like to be a part of group where I can get feed-back from other experienced individuals that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Thanks a lot!

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    1. Hello! Do you mean a forum on adoption? I don’t know of any specific ones but I’m sure you can search the net and WordPress for something similar.
      Thanks for checking out the blog!
      Janice

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  6. Janice, what a heartwarming, heart-pouring story of your journey into motherhood, and your son’s journey into the lives of you and your husband.

    You are all fortunate…more than fortunate to have one another. Thank you for sharing your story.

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  7. Janice that is such and amazing and touching story. Alex is blessed to have you and Dolph as parents. Thank you for sharing such a heartwarming story. I am cried tears of joy for you to finally get Alex and tears of sadness for his mother and the courage and commitment you both made for Alex. What a blessing 🙂 Thank you for sharing.

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