When I was a little girl, I never gave two thoughts to how things would be when I grew up. I was going to go to college, get married and have a family. I planned all along to be a stay at home mom, because that’s what my mom was. I played house with my dolls. Barbie and Ken got married and lived in the townhouse in my room. The Sunshine Family used my Barbie camper.
Life went on, I went to college, I got married, and then No. Babies. Came. There is no way to explain to “fertile folks” what it feels like to want children and not be able to have them. I felt like a failure. I felt cheated. I was ashamed for being upset when friends got pregnant. After six years, I had stopped going to baby showers and I left town on Mother’s Day. Even after we decided to adopt, it took a few years for us to get our kids. Not knowing how long it would take, we set up a nursery. I shut the door to that room and often pretended it wasn’t there, but some days, I’d go in and sit in the rocking chair and sob.
We opted for open adoptions. Twice we had been picked by girls and had the adoptions fall through. Then one day, I got a phone call from an adoption agency on the other side of the state; a place I had never even heard of. The agency had contacted a doctor in that town who had, for some reason, mentioned it to an old college roommate of my sister-in-law who just happened to know we wanted to adopt. She gave the doc our phone number who in turn gave it to the agency. We drove to meet the birthmom and 12 days later, the Musician was born. We picked him up when he was 6 days old.
We had had about 3 weeks to get used to the idea of adopting transracially. When we started the whole process, we just assumed we’d adopt kids that looked like us. We didn’t have any problem with skin color, but it didn’t cross our minds to adopt outside of our race. I just want to say right now that I was so bloomin’ desperate to have a child by this time that I would have taken one with green skin and pink hair.
We adopted four boys altogether. All of them had white birthmoms. The Musician is part Pacific Islander. The Thinker and the Engineer had African American birthdads. The Comedian is a mystery. He has black wavy hair and olive skin. Two of the boys were also drug babies. That brought an entirely different set of challenges. There are four and a half years from the oldest to the youngest. The youngest two are 10 weeks apart in age. We called them the “Almost twins” for a long time.
We have become immune to the strange questions people ask about our family. When my husband and I would go out with the boys, people would look at the kids, then their eyes would travel up to us and then they’d swing back to the boys. I got a twisted kick out of the confusion on their faces. It only got more amusing as time went on and I actually got pregnant and had Princess Pat. Now my wonderful big boys can be seen carrying a pale adoring sister around. None of my kids look alike although two of them are actually birth first cousins. Only one resembles us in any way.
Love doesn’t really care what color skin is or where ancestors came from. Love endures rude questions from strangers. Love puts up with damage caused by addictions of birthmoms. Love adapts to the challenges of being a rainbow family. Love built our family. It keeps us going when we want to tear our hair out.