I am a “Type A “personality. For the majority of my life, I thrived on control. Control of my education, career, and life successes. I choose everything that happened for me. If something was a stretch, I simply worked harder to get it and I always did. Infertility was the first thing I ever dealt with where I truly found myself out of control. No amount of work, money or energy was able to change the situation. And trust me, I/we tried everything.
As we first stepped into the journey of adoption, a book was handed to me by a fellow waiting adoptive parent – “Adopting after Infertility” by Patricia Johnston. It was written in the 90’s and was a little dated, but for the most part it talked about what to expect when pursuing adoption – a solid read. At the beginning, the author spends a portion of the book talking about coming to terms with the losses of infertility before moving forward with adoption. The author even suggests doing a little exercise to gauge where you are today to help determine if adoption is the right choice for you. It was a simple exercise of the heart that helped me to identify what mattered.
Johnston explains that to embrace adoption, a couple needs to move on from infertility by reflecting on a series of losses: a loss of genetic continuity, a loss of a physical pregnancy, a loss of emotional pregnancy, a loss of becoming a parent, and a loss of control. In her exercise she asks the reader to identify, in order of importance, the losses that most impact your life. Depending on your answers, it can lead you to help determine if adoption is a good choice for you.
I was surprised as I reflected on the list of losses and I honestly put them in order of most important. In my world, the loss of never becoming a parent was number one. Number five was genetic continuity. Number three and four were the losses of experiencing pregnancy. What shocked me was what fell as my number two selection – the loss of control. Of course I wanted to be pregnant and have genetic continuity with my husband…but I come from an adoptive family and I know first-hand that genetics and pregnancy are not necessary to having a family. My light bulb moment came about as I realized that what really pissed me off after potentially losing the opportunity to be a parent was that I couldn’t control the situation. In reflection, the loss of experiencing pregnancy and genetic continuity was minor in my heart. Talk about a moment that provided a deeper level of understanding for myself that clearly pointed the way for us and the choice of adoption.
As the rest of 2015 unfolded – on top of infertility – I dealt with a myriad of uncontrollable factors in my life. My flourishing career in Marketing and Communications was hitting a mid-life crisis due to a contracting economy and industry. I had to accept a 20% wage rollback, a suspension of pension contributions and had to say goodbye (AKA layoff) my little team of two. If that wasn’t enough, I am now dealing with the disintegration of my parent’s 40 year marriage and my father’s announcement that he is gay. Yep, you read that right…just call me Kim Kardashian.
So, as I step into 2016 and I think of what I want the next year to be. I have decided that this next year needs to be a further exercise in learning to let go and be fine with what happens. I realize that so much of what I want right now is out of my control. There are steps I can take to help guide my future…but in the end life is this crazy ride and I do not have control of the steering wheel. I can choose to laugh, cry or scream as the ride continues…but what comes next isn’t necessarily something that I can predict. I can lean into or against the turns and most importantly, I can hope. I might feel like I am in control sometimes, but ultimately I need to let the outcomes unfold as the universe means for them to unfold.
I know that in the next year there will be lots of surprises and that I can handle anything that lies beyond the next curve. My objective in 2016 is to learn to let go and enjoy the ride. I have faith that I will get everything I desire in my life…I just won’t necessarily know the timeline or the path I am going to take and that’s alright because I know in the end everything will be alright.