I did not legally become a mother until the paperwork was signed and Gaia was ours. But I had become a mother in my heart the instant I made room for her there, long before we had even met.
I’d heard other women speak of that magical moment when their newborn baby was laid on their breast to nurse for the first time. They talked of a sense of recognition, and of forming an eternal bond in an instant. Of course, that instant was really the culmination of a nine-month-long journey, one that could be long, arduous, and fraught with uncertainty.
Our journey to Gaia was no different in that sense. It was a search that often felt like it would never end. More than once it threatened to tear apart my sanity and my marriage to Rick. In my case, though I had not carried Gaia in my body, I had carried her in my soul, dreaming of her with all my might, and like the belly of a pregnant woman my soul had expanded to fit her. I’d spoken to her in my darkest moments, asking her to be patient, to have faith that we were coming. We were meant to be together, I told her. I explained—for I was sure she was listening—that there were great hurdles to be overcome, and there were strong forces working to keep us apart. But I assured her that we would never give up—never.
And we did not. When I first saw my baby, I understood what those birth mothers were talking about. A piece of me that had been missing suddenly clicked into place. In that single moment, all the pain of the past year became worth it. Finally, we were a family. The dark energies that were trying to separate us had been vanquished…or so I thought.
This is the story of how we found our little girl and brought her home. In one way, it’s a simple, small story, but I have several strong reasons for writing it. I write to raise awareness of an issue, the one of adoption, that is both complex and convoluted and where the system is failing the very children it was set up to help. We weren’t infertile, that wasn’t the issue. We decided to follow our political principles and give love and a home to a child who would otherwise not have one. It was that simple. Or so we thought. In our quest we were judged every step of the way and had to contend with a system that needs reforming and has a long way to go before the choice of giving love to a child who needs it becomes as simple as it ought to be. We were forced to waste precious resources—time, money, energy—on dealing with redundant legal procedures and governmental incompetence, when we could have been lavishing these on our child instead. Every day hundreds of thousands of children are forced to live in dire circumstances or languish in care because the paperwork to adopt them either domestically or from abroad is simply too complicated.
While I understand adoption is not the only way to help them and vetting potential adopters to make sure they will be fit parents is crucial, the process is needlessly long and invasive and bureaucratic. It is quadrupled if you are the first from your own country attempting an international adoption in a certain place for the first time. In our case, we were the first people from the UK to adopt from Mexico, and judging by the reaction we received from adoption and immigration officials, one would think we had announced our intention to eat the child, rather than give her a good home. This is a state of affairs that needs to change, the sooner the better.
I write to give courage to those who feel that the best way for them to help this troubled world is to give a home to a child who otherwise wouldn’t have one. Like us, you will sometimes encounter polite confusion at best and outright hostility at worst. Don’t give up. Your child is out there waiting for you. I write especially for the orphaned and abandoned children of the world, of whom there are millions. Many of them will die of starvation, disease, or neglect before reaching adulthood; others will never realise their full potential; and some will even grow into adults who perpetuate the very injustices that caused their own unfortunate circumstances. There are many children in need, but there are also
many families who would give them a good home. By raising awareness to this issue and campaigning for a more humane adoption process, I hope less of them will grow up hungry, scared, or sick, with loving parents. It’s a dream, I know, but I can think of no more worthy one to pursue.
I am writing also for more general reasons: to give support to those who feel they have a strong vision of how to make the world a better place, but who may feel overwhelmed by the obstacles put in their way by the prejudices of society or the pitfalls of bureaucracy. Two of my heroes are Martin Luther King, Jr., whose famous “I have a dream” speech continues to resonate throughout the world, and Mahatma Gandhi, who said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Both these men accomplished feats that transformed things on a global level, but they started out small, in the face of tremendous odds, armed only with the belief that one person can make a difference. I believe that no matter what our personal mission or vision may be, following their examples will ultimately benefit all of humanity.
And finally, I am writing this as a gift for Gaia, so that our little girl may read this one day and know how much we always loved her.