I’m saving up to adopt a child.
To most of my social circle, this is largely inconceivable. Ask your average late twenty-something man if he’s thinking about babies, and he’ll struggle to put his X-Box controller on pause long enough to laugh at the question. But similarly, my lady friends mostly think the same. Maybe they’ll say one day… before setting a date seven years into the future, but the sentiment is as the boys: not now.
I, however, first Googled ‘How to adopt’ when I was 22.
It’s controversial, declaring want to start a family solo. Judging by the reactions of some you’d think I’d indicated intent to slowly behead a scurry of nesting squirrels by way of bread knife and unresolved childhood trauma, rather than, you know, offer my world to a tiny human being who deserves to be loved for the rest of all time. But then, most of those reactions come from Daily Mail readers and are thus null and void.
I believe in family. Whether that’s mum and dad, or mum and mum, or dad and a day sitter – even a step-dad/half-mum/quasi-Goldfish combo – it doesn’t matter. Raising children is the most natural thing in my stratosphere, and I want in. I’m committed to it.
Committed as a single woman.
You have to be committed. There’s a shit-ton of paperwork. It’s not something I decided one Sunday afternoon when all my mates were busy and I needed something to do. It’s a lengthy process. That’s why I’m starting to think about it now.
There are two things I am sure of from the very depths of my ovaries that, for me, validate my desire to adopt:
1. I’ve given more thought to raising my family than every single one of the chicks on all seasons of Sixteen and Pregnant and Teen Mom combined.
2. Children are a part of who I am, and if I do not become a mother then I’ve done it wrong- my friend Jo told me so. She said, ‘But Laura, you were born to be a mama.’
Look, all cards on the table, right now nobody is actually offering to marry me, or to raise a child with me. So it’s a bit of a non-question, the do you want to get married, don’t you think your child should have a father figure? thing. Like asking if I’d like pancakes for breakfast when we’ve got no flour in.
Of course I’d like to get married, to have somebody start a family with me. The notion of a man contractually obliged to love me even when I’ve got poppy seeds in my teeth, or when I burn the dinner, or God forbid lose my job or get sick or just feel a bit crap, is obviously something to aspire to because it’s nice. I want a hand to hold when I well up at the school Christmas carol concert, somebody beside me in bed when I whisper, that was my baby girl up there!
I’d be lying if I said single life is comfortable. I have to do all the dishes. And I want a witness to my life, to be part of a team. To have a permanent buddy who can put up shelves and schlep to ballet lessons when I have to take a meeting with Sally Fields about her accepting the part of my mother in the TV story of my life.
So I date. I meet men, and we court, and sometimes this is for a night, and sometimes it’s for a month or two. Because human beings are built to be a two. And I love this – the anticipation of whether or not he might actually ask me out, or if I have the courage to ask him. The build up to a date, the jittery first kiss, the lazy mornings in bed swapping stories about Christmases and summer camps and past heartbreaks and learning that another person feels the same way about Lionel’s Back to Front album as I do.
But, much as I’d like to find the father of my children, I’m in no rush to settle down and just pick one! anyone will do! because a) I deserve more than whoever might offer to be mine tomorrow because if-I-meet-a-man-today-and-he-proposes-in-six-months-we’ll-be-married-by-next- summer-and-I-can-have-a-baby-before-30-and-then-it-will-all-be-perfect and b) errrrr, so does my future husband.
I’m a lot of things, but desperate for a ring on my finger so that my real life can begin? Nope. Wrong girl.
I truly do believe that there is a man out there for me – a man who, according to my mother, is probably still married to his first wife – and I will be with him for the rest of my days, and it will be hard, but we’ll work on staying together because it makes more sense than anything either of us have will ever have known. But whilst I know, from my fingers to my toes to my heart to my soul, in this moment, right now, I’d be the best mother this side of the school run, I feel wildly unqualified to be a wife. I need time to grow into that. I’m still learning how to be with another adult.
I’m not ready for the fella of my life yet. I’m busy becoming the version of myself that will walk down the aisle of a Vegas pop-up chapel to say I do. Every date I go on teaches me that.
But whilst I’m waiting for him, the one who will quote Dickinson on backpacking trips to South America, and make my friends laugh, and know when to let me sink and when to help me swim, I need to have a life. And in that life I want kids. Need ‘em. Now.
I genuinely believe that you can have it all. But, I accept that it probably won’t look like how my grandmother thinks it should – how I used to think it might. I can’t wait for first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage. I’ll be 103 before that makes sense to me, before I fit that mould.
So I’m getting started without my husband, and when he finally comes along, he’ll be the final piece to the puzzle – not the starting square.
I’m pretty sure he’ll understand.