Will an adoptive family love an adopted child as much as a biological child?
The answer to the question can best be explained by understanding the heart-wrenching journey that a typical adoptive couple takes to become a mom and dad.
As Jerry and Lisa would later find out, as do many other adoptive couples, their journey would define their lives and make them that much more appreciative of becoming parents.
Jerry and Lisa, like so many others, stood at the altar envisioning their wonderful lives together. Lisa looked into Jerry’s eyes and imagined the days of watching dance recitals, playing games, and baking cookies in the kitchen with their future children. Jerry imagined playing catch in the backyard, tackling his kids in piles of autumn leaves, and teaching them to play the guitar.
Lisa knew Jerry would be a wonderful father because he was so patient, careful, and loving, and he was already the favorite uncle at every family gathering. The same was true for Lisa; Jerry knew long before they were married that she would make a wonderful mother.
After a few years of marriage, Jerry and Lisa decided that it was the right time to start their family.
Lisa got off of birth control and they wondered if it would happen as fast as it did for Lisa’s sister. It never crossed their minds that becoming pregnant would be a problem.
As the years tumbled by, Lisa found herself begrudgingly throwing away unsuccessful pregnancy tests. After each disappointment, Jerry and Lisa’s worries slowly grew. Even though each month offered new hope, the fear of it ending in disappointment grew stronger.
Jerry and Lisa finally decided to seek help and they turned to their doctor, who suggested that the now three-year-long married couple started fertility treatments. Thus, Jerry and Lisa began the expensive, emotionally grueling and physically overwhelming regiment.
The treatments begin innocently enough with a simple shot in the arm. On that sunny Monday morning, Lisa drove home with quiet optimism, hoping that it would be nice if that was all she needed. As the days progressed, however, Lisa began to feel different, and not in a good way.
Her hormones rushed out of control, much worse than she had ever experienced during that “time of the month.” It felt at times that she was having an out of body experience, almost like she was on a vicious rollercoaster ride of emotional highs and lows.
The mood swings became more frequent and intense over the following weeks. Lisa felt sorry for Jerry who had to endure their uncontrollable nature. It was difficult because Lisa knew that the way she acted during any trivial situation was not how she meant to behave, but she couldn’t help herself from being so temperamental.
During Lisa’s more fleeting rational moments, she and Jerry would always reason that it was worth it. They talked to others who were pregnant and learned that hormone fluxations were normal. Friends reassured them that hormones would tend to level out after a few months, so Jerry and Lisa decided it was a small sacrifice to make for the benefit of their future family. Lisa’s hormonal days continued and her mood swings worsened, but she held in her heart the quiet confidence that she would do anything for her child.
Over the following months, Lisa remained on her normal menstrual cycle, which only served as a reminder of her struggles. Every period that she had was more discouraging that the one before it.
Lisa noticed how her feelings toward her period had completely changed throughout the course of her life. More than a few times in college she had a couple of scares that she might be pregnant, but her period always signified that her life would remain unchanged. These days, however, Lisa would give anything for her life to change.
One month after another, it was the same routine. Her life revolved around pregnancy tests and the anticipation of her next period. One day, after suffering through the mental anguish at the start of another period, she decided that she had had enough. Lisa walked to the phone in a daze and called her doctor.
He explained that the hormonal and borderline suicidal tendencies she was feeling were resulting from the shot she had taken. She could feel that way for the next three months, and that if the shot didn’t work, she would have to take the shot all over again. She might even have to take the shot for several years. He told her that many women on fertility treatments feel these wild hormonal fluxations, which are often much worse than the most severe pregnancy. These symptoms were the result of the shot trying to shock her hormones into ovulating.
Devastated, Lisa called Jerry at work, pulling him out of a meeting and sharing the sad and depressing news. That night dinner was filled with the silence of fear – the fear that their journey to become parents might never be realized.
Like so many couples, the next three years Jerry and Lisa spent well over $10,000 on hormone shots and unpredictable emotional rollercoaster rides. The lost finances were difficult, but no amount of money could compare to what Jerry saw was happening to his wife, both physically and emotionally.
Lisa continued to feel like a lab animal being experimented on. In fact, she spent one month after treatments with almost constant diarrhea and vomiting. It all seemed like some cruel punishment. She would have the worst symptoms of pregnancy and yet never have the opportunity to become pregnant.
Still discouraged but desperately wanting to be parents, Lisa and Jerry tried the next round of fertility treatments, which meant Lisa had to take a different kind of hormone shot. It also resulted in them turning their sex life into a planned event. And finally it led to one surgery after another. Jerry and Lisa, however, were willing to walk across hot coals if that is what they had to do become parents.
One fateful day though, it all changed for Lisa. She was sitting at church quietly wondering if God was telling Jerry and Lisa not to become parents. Amidst her sad daydream, Lisa was startled. A child was pushing on her knee trying to squeeze by her. Behind him was the child’s mother.
“Sorry, he loves for me to chase him down the aisle,” the woman said. “It is something we have done for so many years. It is our little game we play.”
Not knowing the mother, Lisa introduced herself. The woman said her name was Linda. As they talked Linda explained that she was about to become a mother again. Lisa felt a sudden pang of sadness, an unusual feeling she had come to know. Lisa felt happiness for Linda, but it was mixed with hopelessness and envy because of how desperately she wanted to become a mother.
“How far along are you?” Lisa asked.
“Oh no, I am not pregnant,” Linda answered. “My husband Steve and I weren’t able to have children on our own. We have been working with a birth mother named Beth who chose us to adopt her baby boy. She is due next month and we just can’t wait for him to get here.”
Lisa’s jaw must have hit the floor, or so it felt. Over the next hour, Lisa and Linda had an inspiring conversation about adoption. Linda shared how she and Steve couldn’t love a child more than their son. Linda went on to explain how she wished they had learned about adoption far sooner than they did.
“If I knew what I know now, I would not have tried one fertility shot,” Linda said. “I would have known that God wanted me and Steve to become a mom and dad through adoption. We literally thank our lucky stars every day that we were blessed enough to be chosen by our birth mother.”
Lisa bolted out of that church and sped home like her car was on fire. On that day and on that moment, her heart raced with optimism – a feeling she had lost long ago. She bolted through the front door of her house, and to this day Lisa still remembers walking inside and seeing Jerry fumbling around with the kitchen cabinet. She embraced him from behind with the biggest bear hug she could muster.
Jerry was perplexed; bear hugs after church were not the normal way his wife greeted him. He could feel Lisa’s heavy breathing, and when he turned around and looked into Lisa’s cool blue eyes, he noticed something was entirely different about her.
He noticed she had the same look in her eyes, the same hope he saw so many years ago, when he held her hand at the altar. He asked her what was going on, and Lisa’s hopeful words filled the room.
Jerry’s excitement instantaneously equaled Lisa’s, and the couple immediately began calling as many adoption agencies that they could find in the phonebook. Unfortunately, it was Sunday – they had to wait one more day before beginning their journey to finally become parents.
Today, Jerry and Lisa are proud parents of two wonderful adoptive children. They openly share their adoption story with their children and still have contact with their birth mother. It’s clear to everyone who knows the happy couple that their children are the centerpiece of their lives. They know how much it took for them to become a mom and dad, and their difficult journey makes them appreciate being parents that much more.
Sadly though, for Jerry and Lisa and countless other prospective families struggling with infertility, the fertility treatments could have ultimately been avoided, but fertility doctors can be very convincing when a couple is dealing with such a personal issue.
Fertility doctors provide many couples with a false sense of hope, but what they don’t tell them is that this journey of hope is filled with physical anguish and emotional sadness for which each failure only seems to send them back to square one. Also, the statistics they use to try to prove the success of the treatments are often dramatically inflated. Jerry and Lisa experienced one of these doctors first hand.
Before Jerry and Lisa sought fertility treatments, unbeknownst to them at the time, it never mattered whether they became parents through pregnancy or adoption. Seeing Jerry and Lisa interact with their children proves this, as they are as loving a family as any other. In fact, many would argue that the couple shows more passion toward each other and their kids than any other family they can think of.
In the end, after everything the two had to go through, Jerry and Lisa both agree that their problems with infertility was a blessing because if they hadn’t had their struggles, they wouldn’t have their children whom they have grown to love more than they could have ever imagined.
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