Our story begins with a skinny 10-year-old girl who just “knew” that one day someone would give her their baby to raise. I imagined that maybe someone would leave their precious bundle in a basket with a note for me. At that age, I just hoped my mother wouldn’t take the baby away from me seeing as I was but a child myself.
Needless to say, that didn’t happen. Not in that way at least. It’s not how adoption happens in most situations.
When I was 18, I met the man who would become my husband. I always thought I’d have at least four children, live in a leafy suburb like Constantia or Newlands and always drive two brand spanking new shiny cars. We were going to be rich and send our children to the best schools possible – one being my own junior school, which I thought was the best. One little problem. He wanted no children at all. I remember that conversation very well. We were walking from our self-catering university residence to the Observatory Pick n Pay. We were discussing our future plans – the plans we had for ourselves that we had conceived before we met – and he mentioned in a very nonchalant manner that he wasn’t going to have any children.
Compromise – the things we do for love
You could have heard my heart drop to my feet with a thud as I thought, “What? I thought this was the man I was meant to marry. We’re meant to have four children together. How can this be?” By the time we walked out of Pick n Pay we had compromised. One child. Yep, the things we do for love.
By the time we were finally engaged, about two years later, he’d upped the number. And added an extra twist. “OK, we’ll have two children then. Adopted.” “NO WAY!” I told him – I was going to experience pregnancy at least once in my life. Thus was the plan hatched – one adopted and one biological; with the biological one coming first because we were country-hopping. Going from South Africa to England to Kenya and back to South Africa does not lend itself to the stability and permanency required in adoption.
Little did we know that my desire to experience pregnancy wasn’t going to be as easy as we had imagined. In fact, our adoption ‘journey’ was much shorter than the journey to conceiving. Well, at least the first adoption journey was much shorter than the journey to that first positive pregnancy test. Speaking of plans that didn’t materialise as previously imagined, the area in which we live is one I never even knew about. The “one adopted, one biological child” plan changed a bit too. Like life in general, we’ve come to expect detours along the way. Adoption was planned, but how we’d go about it, the child we’d be given, the reality of the actual process, was all very different to what we’d vaguely imagined. We’ve come to realise that we aren’t the only ones who were mistaken or ignorant. I hope to share more of our detours and shifts in how we built our family in articles to come.