A few months ago, Maria and I began reflecting on where we are today with our respective infertility journeys. We know it's been awhile since we've shared an update with our followers and fellow ART of IF collaborators. While it's hard to know where and how to begin, we decided to do it through art. Both Maria's life and my life have been impacted by adoption in very different ways over the past couple of years. This is #whatiwantyoutoknow about adoption through Maria's eyes. Tomorrow, I'll share mine. #NIAW
“The Ace of Hearts”
It can be difficult to share my daughter’s adoption story. Not, though, for the reasons you may imagine. Her adoption wasn’t particularly contentious nor controversial. Rather, it was quite beautiful, which makes talking about it feel fragile as if it may suddenly shatter, become irreplaceable.
Much of this is because adoptions are often still discussed as a taboo subject. When I first share with someone that my daughter is adopted, many are surprised. Often, they remark how closely she resembles me, something I openly chuckle about because my daughter has strawberry blond hair, blue eyes, and very fair skin. While my skin is fair, my hair and eyes are distinctly brown. Causing further speculation about the intent of such a comment is the fact that my husband’s features are even darker than mine. It is my daughter’s shared whiteness with us that disguises much of the story of how she came to us; much of what makes her loved by many. And I can’t help but feel some sadness to the fact that our shared ethnicity is sometimes assumed as an asset to how she may feel when she first learns she is adopted. “It will be easier for her,” some say.
When I look at my daughter, I see her birth parents. Their presence in her features remind me of how precious – not taboo – adoption is. After nearly eight years of living with unexplained infertility, I had grown pretty skeptical of the concept of family. Infertility soured its taste. Yet as it soured, the desire to be a parent stayed steady. I began to notice a mellowing to this taste as I met my daughter’s birth mom.
Selflessness only begins to describe how she generously welcomed my husband and I into her family. Almost immediately, we were referred to as the unborn baby’s parents. Wanting us to trust her that we would indeed become the baby’s parents, we were invited to doctor’s visits, consulted on health decisions, and incorporated into the birth plan. Within a period of two months from being “matched” to my daughter’s birth, we were suddenly part of a new family – culminating as my husband was positioned by the doctor to hold my daughter’s birthmother’s leg as I gripped the arm of my daughter’s biological aunt watching in excitement as I prepared to welcome the baby into my arms.
These intimate familial moments felt fragile, making me want to document each little moment of my birth mother’s generosity. There was a heightened sense of fragility around this adoption as we knew we may never be able to adopt again. And even if we were able to adopt again, we know that the likelihood of replicating such a beautiful experience would be small if not impossible.
“The Ace of Hearts” represents the beauty, precariousness, and needed care in adoption. I repurposed papers – significant to our daughter’s adoption – and selectively collaged them together to create an image of the ace of hearts to represent the luck we had with this adoption. We were cared for, our daughter was cared for, and our birth parents were cared for. But the legal process of adoption does not always feel as if all parties are being cared for. There are laws, there are fees, there are risks. Our adoption could have failed, as so many adoptions do. Instead, we drew the ace of hearts.
When adopting you also become accustomed to reviewing, signing, and waiting for papers. We felt most fragile waiting for the birth parents to sign over their rights on paper 45 days after our daughter was born and at home living with us. Paper changes everything, it secures a family.
I explained why I wanted to adopt to prospective birth parents on paper.
I learned more about my daughter’s birth parents on paper.
I became Nina’s legal mom on paper.