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Fertility Heroes: Meet Abby and Tom
a blog by Ellen Glazer, July 21, 2011
To read more of Ellen Glazer's Conversations with an Infertility Counselor blogs, CLICK HERE.
When I first met Abby and Tom, they were going through in vitro fertilization (IVF). That was about 15 years ago. We met again about eight years later. Or I should say, I bumped into them. They live near me, and we saw each other in CVS. When I spotted them, I wondered if they had ever had or adopted children, but I wasn’t quite sure how to approach the topic — if at all.
Abby made it easy. “We decided not to have children, “ she said. “We’re OK. with it. We’re both liking our jobs, and we recently ran a marathon together.”
And so it was a surprise to me when I heard a sobbing voice at the other end of the phone about a year or so later and somehow recognized it was Abby. “I had a miscarriage,” she said. “It was a surprise pregnancy, and it threw me for a loop. I don’t know what to do. I need to be a mom. Can you help me?”
I met with Abby and Tom the next day, and they wasted no time in launching into adoption questions. “We want to adopt. We don’t care about the race of the child, but we do want a baby. And we’re hoping for a baby in good health. But we’re both 46, and we know this may not be possible.”
They had clearly done a lot of thinking and talking. Abby explained that they had tried hard to accept living without children, but it had never felt OK to them. Then she found herself unexpectedly pregnant, “over-the-moon with happiness and then devastated when I miscarried.” Abby and Tom had been talking about adoption from the moment she miscarried.
That was five years ago. Five years and lots of diapers and formula and infant milestones and toddler tantrums ago. Abby and Tom are now the busy, jubilant and grateful parents of Abi, 4, Eva, 3 and Corey, 2. All three of their children are African American and adopted as newborns. These days I see Abby and Tom fairly often. That is because they have become “my adoption speaker’s bureau.” Whenever I need parents to come talk with a group about adoption, I call on Abby and Tom, who love to talk about how they moved from infertility to “resolving without children” to embracing adoption. For Abby and Tom, who are white, their children’s race seems to only add to their sense of wonder and gratitude and disbelief. “I look in the mirror some days, “ Abby says “I can’t believe that I am a mom. When I pick up Abi at preschool, and someone says, ‘Abi, your mom’s here.’ I feel like jumping with pleasure.”
Abby and Tom recognize and respect the fact that adoption is not for everyone, and transracial adoption is not for many. They know, first hand, that it is often a huge, seemingly insurmountable leap to adoption. They know that some are not ready nor suited to make that leap. Both look back on that awful miscarriage with unexpected gratitude. “It was what pushed us,” Abby declares, “It was what sent us sailing so exuberantly into this adventure in parenthood.”