My journey to motherhood started a little different than most. I always dreamed of being a mother, but I had a severe phobia of doctors, needles and childbirth. I had been married to my husband since 1997 and every year I kept telling him, “Maybe next year we can have a baby.” I read a lot of books about having babies and breastfeeding, I even watched ‘A Baby Story’ on TLC hoping that it would calm my fears, but none of it worked. If I wanted to be a Mom and my phobias were going to prevent me from having one the old-fashioned way then what I had left was adoption. So I brought the idea to my husband and his response was that we should “have our own” first before considering that route.
Finally in 2002 I got honest with myself and my husband and told him I didn’t think there was any way I could birth a baby. He was upset, but after thinking about it he came back and said, “I am fine with adoption. Let’s do it!” He came to the realization that if he pushed the issue and I actually birthed a baby then something horrible might happen. And so we compromised.
We decided that we wanted to adopt internationally and started researching our options including the best agency to go through to start our family. Originally we wanted to bring our baby home from China but quickly learned I was too young to adopt from China (they require parents to be 30+ and at the time I was only 27 years old). Not to be discouraged, we were then referred to an agency by friends and family and after meeting with the owner we knew they were the right agency for us. They were the ones who directed us towards Russia.
In 2004, we completed our paperwork and traveled to meet our sweet boy in July. The daunting task of raising a child hit me like a ton of bricks, but he had me by the heart strings and I could not wait to return to Russia for our court date and to bring him home. Fourteen very long weeks later we returned and the judge granted our adoption. He was officially and legally ours!
Bringing home an 11-month-old, who was on the go, was quite an adjustment. We were both scared! I was scared to take care of a new little one and he was scared to be in a new place, with new people, learning a new language. My heart broke for him as he had to go through these adjustments, but I knew it was better for him than living in an orphanage. Over time we bonded and I knew motherhood was what I was born to do. In 2008 we went back to Russia and added two more sweet boys to our family.
Bringing home orphaned children from another country is not without its challenges. Because of the early neglect of all three of my boys this road of motherhood has been bumpy to say the least. They display a lot of behaviors born out of fear that they will not be fed or taken care of properly, and because of that I can’t parent like my friends and take things away as punishment or use timeouts and reward charts. Those things do not work for us. Only the use of loving, natural consequences will aid in attachment. It can feel like a long lonely road, but it has been so rewarding to see my children blossom and grow.
My journey to motherhood is not the traditional route taken by most women. But this road, my road, has helped me grow and mature in ways I never thought possible.
Maybe you took this road to motherhood and you are struggling with attachment and not so fun behaviors? Please know YOU ARE NOT ALONE and others are walking this road with you. Maybe you know someone who is struggling? My advice to you is to be their community and give them a pat on the back or take them a meal. Sometimes a hug is worth more than you’ll ever know for an adoptive mom.
[typography font=”Satisfy” size=”20″ size_format=”px”]Written by Jennifer O.[/typography]
Jennifer O. is a wife of 15 years and a mom to 3 boys adopted from Russia. She enjoys baking and advocating for orphans and educating parents about the needs of adopted children.