I do not plan to have biological children; what I plan is to adopt. The first assumption most people make when stating this is that I am unable to have children of my own or that such feat would prove difficult. As if adoption is only conceivable as a last resort situation; you adopt because you were given the shorter end of the stick and you’re making the best of it. It’s brave and commendable, right? Well, by no means do I suffer from any fertility issue (none that I know of, that is). And when I clear up this misunderstanding, my stance is then received with weird looks and a few head shakes. “This girl has no idea what she’s talking about”. Once it is understood that my desire to adopt is a choice, it is trivialized. Because this choice isn’t the norm and my motivations are less relatable than some.
“Don’t you want children of your own?” is the most common question I’m asked. Mind you, it’s usually rhetorical so the asker is not really interested in my reply. But let’s assume, for sake of conversation here, that it is a real question. The simple answer to that is: yes, I do want children of my own. But that’s because my interpretation of “own” is different than yours.
I was raised in the same fashion as most people have. As a child, benchmarks of adulthood translated as getting married, having children, owning a house with a yard. I played mommy with dolls pushed in strollers as a kid, stuffed a pillow down my shirt in later years to “see what it would look like”. I grew up with the understanding that becoming a mother meant getting pregnant with your child. This was how it worked; I knew nothing else.
And then, I really grew up. I became aware of the world; of different views, opinions, and scenarios. Welcome to real adulthood, and this time as an active participant, not a naïve observant. As I got older, I experienced more. I crossed paths with people from different walks of life. And I was privy, first-hand, to the fact that “family” translates into so much more than just blood. The way I envisioned my future started to change.
I, myself, was not adopted. I knew both my parents. But while my being brought into this world was fairly average, it is true that my upbringing is different than most. I was raised by my biological father, a great man, who died early on in my adult life. Having little to no immediate family, it was various step-father, step-mother, and uncle-type figures that then formed my tribe. Step-in parents, as I like to call them. People I can look up to, people I feel safe with, people that will cheer me on as I graduate college, people who will walk me down the aisle one day… people who are in my life to stay. People with whom I am bound only by love, not DNA.
It is because of this that I feel a penchant to adopt. The idea that my kid(s) share my genes or not makes no differences in how I look forward to calling them my own, as I theirs. When I think of a parent’s unconditional love, I don’t think of DNA as a condition. Not even an obstacle. That is what life has taught me and what my step-in parents have shown me. So maybe, in the end, that is why I am so positively inclined to adopting. Because I guess you could say (in the most untechnical terms) that I was, in a way, adopted too. Unsurprisingly, many of my partners in past relationships did not agree with me, nor felt comfortable with the idea, having different projections for their futures. And you know what? They are allowed to their own dreams and reservations, just as I am to mine.
“Adopted children are a challenge, they come with baggage,” is something I hear a lot too. Well sure, but children in general are a challenge and there are many, many ways in which they will nudge sticks in your wheels, with or without a “past life” exposure. Every child is different, whether they come from your womb or not; you’ll need to adapt and to address their individual needs, regardless. So to the above comment, I reply: details.
Don’t I think I could rock some tight pregnancy dresses? Of course I do. I think pregnancy is a beautiful thing, even if I don’t entirely feel it’s for me. Unfortunately, a lot of my parent friends interpret my disposition towards having biological children as an insult to their own choice of having children or as an opposition to child bearing in general. People tend to take it very personally when you don’t align exactly as them, but just because my choice is opposite of yours does not mean it opposes yours.
In 2015, in light of the legalization of gay marriage in the USA, in light of Caitlyn Jenner’s catalyst of a message to and for the LGBT community… we can say that we are successfully making steps forward as a whole. What a time to be alive. And yet, in an age where we grow more aware of diversity and individuality, we also grow more entitled in sharing our views sans-acknowledgement of the flip side(s) of the coin. Partiality is acceptable, as long as it is widespread. The louder the voices of acceptance grow, the louder the sounds of ignorance echo back. It saddens me to see how our technology offers such an incredible access to information, yet we use it primarily to spread our biased-opinions as statements of truth, rather than educate ourselves to form less ignorant views. Accessibility is a double-edged sword. Widespread media is used to talk, not to listen.
Society is full of judgement. Especially when it comes to something as personal as parenting or the choice of having kids. And especially as a woman. Bombarded we find ourselves with ways to parent and ways not to parent. Why it’s best to have children before 30, or why 40 is the new 30. Why not getting married could kill your relationship, versus why marriage doesn’t work. Utilising a surrogate must be by vanity in keeping a svelte body. Going through years of in-vitro treatments to no avail; you’re stubborn, delusional, and should give up already. At home childbirth is so hippie, but getting an epidural is not holistic enough. Not wanting kids is selfish, and having more than three kids is reckless. Whatever you do, as a parent or as a non-parent, someone somewhere will come up to you and will give you their unsolicited two-cents.
This is why I choose to speak up.
Because everyone has a right to find their own groove about life. There’s no “one” best way; we’re all going to screw up somewhere down the line. If it’s not in being late for the morning school runs, it’ll be in forgetting the sandwiches on the kitchen counter. It’s Murphy’s Law. As long as you find a way to live and breathe by not hurting anyone and staying relatively happy, then you do you. Who am I to comment on the way you choose to parent? I mean, sure, if you breastfeed your child until the age of 6 I might find that a little weird; I’ve never really been exposed to that approach before. But I’ll know not to judge. Better yet, I’ll know to keep my opinions to myself. If I speak, it will be to ask questions; not to criticize. How am I the authority on what feels best for you?
Would I ever change my mind about having biological children? Maybe. But it’s not something I feel any pressure about. I do feel a pull towards motherhood, but not necessarily towards pregnancy. It’s not something I see myself actively going after, but I am open to the twists and turns that is life. I guess it’s the same way as I now view marriage: if it happens it happens, but it is not my end-all, be-all requirement to finding true, long-term happiness and founding a family.