It is said that “difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations” and for many considering adoption this is true. This can be even more true when your past is less than perfect. Adoption can be a scary process for many. There are so many unknowns and the future can seem uncertain. Often, the process to arriving at adoption hasn’t been easy either. For people with a not so perfect past this process seem even more intimidating, overwhelming, and uncertain. However, what I’ve learned is that path to parenthood isn’t always easy, but it’s definitely worth it.
As a woman in my mid-thirties my ovaries were screaming for a baby, however this was not the case in my early twenties and I felt I was being punished for my poor judgment in my younger years. My story is complicated. As a married woman, with a master’s degree, a great job, beautiful home, and a loving husband my life looked picture perfect to most. But this life wasn’t handed to me, I had to work for it. My story starts as a young girl, born to two parents in their mid-twenties. My mother came from a normal, working-class family and my father came from a family that had struggled with alcoholism for decades. My father got sober when I was 5 years old, so my memories growing up were of a sober man. In my teenage years I began to experiment with marijuana and alcohol. I remember clearly thinking that my parents, especially my dad, would not be happy if they found out, but that this was a rite of passage and that alcoholism wasn’t really a disease, that was just something people in AA said to make themselves feel better. For the next ten years I continued to believe that.
By the time I was 26 I had been arrested for Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) numerous times and these arrests came with time spent in jail and on house arrest. I always attributed everything in my life to bad luck, including my arrest record. Following my last OWI, a Drug and Alcohol Assessment was mandated and from there I was sent to rehab. While in rehab I realized that I was not choosing the life I had wanted to live. I realized that my alcoholism was a disease and that for many people this disease was passed down to them and there wasn’t much choice in the matter. I realized the only choice I had was to quit drinking and that I was an alcoholic.
Once I quit drinking my life began to get better almost immediately, which is was led to the present day “picture perfect” life. The only thing missing from my perfect life was a baby I was longing to love. I had always loved the idea of adoption, but I figured with my past there was no chance in adopting a baby. Before contacting Adoptions of Wisconsin, I would Google search for stories of alcoholic women that had adopted, but all I would find would be threads of women discussing how their husband had been arrested once or twice and they were still able to adopt a baby. I couldn’t find any stories of mothers, the so-called “care takers”, with a not so perfect past like mine. During this time of uncertainty, guilt, remorse and reflection, my husband tried to assure me that my past was far behind me (as I was 8 years sober at the time) and that people would look beyond that. I was not so sure. I remember contacting Adoptions of Wisconsin, going in for our initial consultation and within minutes I was balling and telling Hollie that I was a recovering alcoholic and I wasn’t sure if we would be able to adopt. I remember these intense feelings of guilt and remorse. Hollie assured me that the agency had guidelines on this and that everything would be okay. My past was not the end all be all, and that a future as a mother would be possible.
As we continued the adoption process I was forced to relive and discuss my past at many times. We had background checks, fingerprints and in-depth details of my past with our social worker during our home study. Once we had finished our home study I felt a sign of relief. I thought it was all uphill from there, and for the most part, it was.
Shortly after going “active” we were matched with our birth mother. She was perfect. We loved her, she loved us, things couldn’t get better. During placement we continued our monthly visits with Megan and we stated to discuss finalization. A few weeks before finalization we received a notice that the judge had appointed a Guardian Ad Litem to represent our babies during finalization, which doesn’t always happen. This was something we were not expecting. We had loved and cared for these babies for six months, and now someone we just met was going to represent them in court. My stomach instantly became sick; I knew it was my fault, I knew this was because of my past, I instantly started to cry and called Megan. Megan shared that similar to the termination of parental rights (TPR) hearing, the Guardian Ad Litem would be contacting us to ask us some questions. A few days later I received a call, I answered some questions, explained my story and he told me he looked forward to meeting at court. One of the first things brought up at our hearing was my background and history of alcoholism. The judge asked the Guardian Ad Litem if he felt I was fit to be a mother and he gave the most genuine reply as I hugged my babies. He said he couldn’t imagine a more open, honest, loving family for these babies; that I had taken to steps to repair my wrongs, and I was absolutely fit to be a mother. This was one of the greatest moments of my life. I was officially a mother.
I wanted to share my story because I want people to know that your past doesn’t dictate your future. I want other women like myself to know that a not so perfect past does not mean you don’t get a perfect future! My life is by no means “perfect,” but in my mind, being a mother is the most beautiful opportunity I’ve ever had and that makes my life perfect.
- Written by an AOW adoptive mom