Did you know that November is National Adoption Month? This adoption story is a lot of things, but more than anything, it is just a story of the incredible power of love.

Unless I’m around other parents who have personally adopted, I typically feel like people are looking in on my experience through glass wondering if adoption is really as incredible as I make it out to be [spoiler alert: it is.]

This is our story of how our family came to be—it’s unique to us, and also universally similar in so many ways to all moms and dads who have built their tribe through adoption.  

Believe it or not, when my husband, Greg, and I got married, adoption was part of our “Plan A.” We talked about having a big family built of biological children and internationally adopted children. We wanted (and still want) our family to be a positive face of diversity and culture, and generally live-out the idea that love makes a family, not DNA.

The plan was to have some biological children and then adopt some children internationally; you know, mix it up a little bit.  We were 25, I had done an Americorps volunteer year, and Greg had lived and traveled all over the world. Obviously, we were hip enough to make this happen. I read all the blogs of other hip people who had a blended family. We talked about the countries from which we would adopt and dreamed of visiting far off places to fill up the nest! We were so BrAngelina! Just look at us.

So, after the requisite one year of marriage, it was time to get busy with our hipster plan.  We were financially stable, Greg was out of his intern year of residency, we were old enough to have traveled a bit, we had a dog, and I wanted to be on maternity leave for a good 3 months. We decided to stop “not trying” to get pregnant and see what happened.  

I’ll tell you exactly what happened: nothing at all.  

So, after 6 months of not “not trying,” we started actually “trying.” In case you didn’t know, “trying” is code for having lots and lots of unprotected sex at strategically planned times of the month.

Seven months. Eight months. No luck.

This led to ovulation monitors, calendars, and the required rendezvous that quickly lost its allure.

Nine months. Ten months. Eleven months.

Absolutely nothing.

Then came the big hard questions which yielded big hard answers.

Doctors.

Diagnostics.

Decisions.  

Like a self-fulfilling prophecy, it became apparent that we would, in fact, not be having biological children.  

Full stop.

It was both heavily crushing and oddly relieving to find out that our conception challenges had a name. After 12 exhausting months of “hey babe, I know you just got off of a 15 hour shift, but the ovulation monitor has a happy face again,” it was sort of nice to just be done.

Most of the time, though, infertility made me feel like I couldn’t breathe.

Nobody but us knew for a long time—years, actually. Our marriage went into hyper-drive as we watched each other grieve a loss in loneliness. Sure, there was shared grief, but much of it was a process we had to work through individually. That process was incredibly difficult and seemed eternal.  We gave ourselves lots of time. We gave each other lots of grace.

I guess it was when our feelings of loss finally bottomed out when we started to find peace. My peace came first; Greg’s came later. And once we were on the same page, it felt like the flood gates broke open and our focus shifted to what would become our greatest adventure: the journey to our kids in China.

Check back tomorrow for more from this adoption story! Part 2 in this series, here.