When I was thirty, I sat in the emergency room with my husband, Sam, and listened as a doctor told him, “You have cancer.”
My husband’s cancer was successfully treated, but not without scars. The treatment took away our chances of having children biologically, and we questioned if we would ever have a family.
Life handed us a major detour, but we were not going to let cancer stop us from building our family.
We decided to pursue domestic adoption after Sam went into remission, and to our surprise, we brought home a daughter a few months later. After all the sleepless nights helping my husband through cancer, getting up to feed my new baby was a pleasure. Adoption had brought redemption to a painful journey that we were quick to move on from.
Four years and another son later, we realized we now had our fairy tale ending. I had two children to hold, two children to tuck in at night, two children to love. My family was complete and I was grateful for the unexpected journey that led us to them.
When my son was 9 months old, life forced us to readjust our plans again. At his monthly checkup, the doctor noticed some developmental delays and ordered an MRI.
When the phone rang a few hours after the test, I knew it was not good news. I sat down on the edge of the bed as the doctor told me there were dark spots on my son's brain that were consistent with Leigh’s disease, an incurable genetic disease with a life expectancy of two or three years.
Over the next several years we learned to care for our son’s severe medical needs. We learned to use a feeding tube, fitted him for a wheelchair and took him to countless appointments, praying for some small hope. But the disease continued to progress and on October 5, 2012, our son passed away.
When I started the adoption journey, I had no idea that it would lead us to parent a child suffering from a fatal disease.
But here’s the thing: we would do it all over again.
We would choose adoption knowing our son was sick. We would choose him, because we understand that children make this journey through life even more beautiful.
When you choose to adopt, it means you risk parenting a broken or healthy child and you love your child either way. Because part of this love story is that it never really was about us.
In January of 2017, we adopted another baby into our family whose dimpled smile reminds us that all of this was worth it. All of the heartbreak, all of the detours, all the waiting.
Was this the route to parenthood we originally expected?
Not at all.
But we’ve learned along the way that the unplanned journey is so much richer and deeper and more beautiful than we could have ever imagined.
When I look at my children, I know this was the path we were meant to take all along.