When Your Plans Don't Go As Planned: A Vulnerable Share On Non-Traditional Family
The year was 2009, I was 27 at the time. 2 years beyond the goal that I had set when I was a teenager. By 25 I'm going to be married, and be well on my way to the 2.5 kids, house with the picket fence, and all of the rest of my dreams coming true. That's what I had told myself.
I was 27 and nowhere near any of that. I had one stable relationship that started in high school, and went into college, followed by a bad breakup.
A girlfriend convinced me to sign up for Eharmony. She just really wanted to go through the process of signing someone up, and since she was engaged, she couldn't sign herself up. I "willingly" went with it... I figured if nothing else, it was a chance to share dinner and some laughs with one of my best friends.
It was only a few days after I signed up for the 6 month commitment that I met the one. The one I would go on to marry 5 years later. He started our relationship with a wink... a small ice breaker that told me he was interested in getting to know me. "Nice smile," he said. The rest is history.
We were already starting our little family in a non-traditional way. No one else in either of our families had met online. It was a new way to meet someone and start a romantic relationship. We're millennials, so it seemed natural to us. But we weren't foolish enough to think that our families would approve if we told them the truth. So, we told them we met at a rooftop bar, and our friend introduced us. Well, there's truth in there. We did have our first date on a rooftop bar, and my friend did play a hand in introducing us. Why rock the boat? The waters were choppy enough being that it's an interracial relationship. An algorithm based off of 100 questions that considered us a match was just the technology that brought us together.
Fast forward the 5 years of dating. We shared our special wedding day with family and friends from near and far. Excited to start our journey as a married couple. Maybe we would even get pregnant shortly after our honeymoon.
Once the honeymoon was over, I fielded questions from prying mouths about when we would be having our first child. I was 33, and my biological clock was ticking loudly in my own ears. There was no need to have the additional pressure. It was hard enough enduring it month after month without the baby that I wanted. Meanwhile my Facebook feed was filled with "friends" celebrating their second, or even third child. I couldn't even make my body work to create one.
One evening my husband and I sat down to watch a movie. The heartbreaking, but triumphant story of a young boy in India who falls asleep on a train, and becomes an orphan who gets adopted by an Australian family. Lion, I'm sure you've seen it, or at least heard about it. That movie sparked a conversation about adoption. It was a concept that had sat in the recesses of my heart, until that day. I hadn't even known my husband was interested in adoption before that.
I set off that week to learn more about adopting a child. And that research led me to foster care. It was something that I had known about, but I didn't know that you could actually adopt a child from foster care. There are children out there who are legally free and waiting for a forever family.
One evening, sitting at the hair salon, I happened upon a page where photos of youngsters looking to be adopted are posted. And that's when I saw him. A young boy, probably about 8 at the time, who looked like he could have been created by me and my husband. His face was so innocent looking, and it broke my heart. Simultaneously, it gave me hope. My family was once again about to be built in a non-traditional way. I set off to find out more details about him, in hopes that we could bring him home shortly after seeing the photo.
Nope. First we would need to be licensed as foster parents. (More than a 6 month process by the way.) And then we would have to see if he was still waiting for a family. Then we would have to work with the caseworker to see if he was a good adoption match. (Another 6 months.) Time was just ticking by. Biological clock, and time that this child didn't have to waste, waiting for someone to rescue him from the system.
A long 23 months later, we finally had the child moved in - from the day I first saw his face on the web, to the day that we were able to bring him home.
My dream of motherhood bliss and the family that I had knit together unconventionally came crashing down though. Throughout the short few months after his arrival, the honeymoon period had come and gone. And the trauma that he had been through in his young life started to envelop us all into the dark hole that is foster care. We wanted to have bright days filled with light, but instead day after day we were trapped in a raging storm.
I thought I was prepared... I mean, it was something that I wanted for so long. But in the end I had to hunker down waiting for the storm to blow over, and watch it wash away my dream.
The child returned to his previous placement, and the sound of my biological clock began to tick loudly, once again.
Will I ever get to have the family that I had created in my mind in my 20s? I'm not sure, but even though I'm 11 years behind schedule, my time's not up yet.
This guest post was written
by Cynthia Height, creator of the blog Dear Ms. Anonymous. If you’re looking for motivation and inspiration to live your life out loud, check her out: