November is National Adoption Month and my family has reason to celebrate. Three years ago, my niece and her husband adopted an infant boy through foster care, proving that children can be just as loved (maybe more so) when they are not our own.
My niece and her husband foster-adopted because they haven’t been able to conceive a child yet. My niece should have been able to whisper into her husband’s ear and become pregnant, but it’s seldom that easy.
Nineteen years ago, during a break at school, I whispered into a phone: “I’d like information about finding a donor for artificial insemination.”
I was in my mid-30s and knew that I was running out of time to safely bear a child. I was plagued with doubts, such as not being able to afford the insemination procedures, then not being able to afford raising a child.
There were troubling thoughts about an unknown donor. (And, yes, I still held out hope that a guy would whisk me off my feet and render me barefoot and pregnant.)
Costs for artificial insemination were daunting on a teacher’s salary. I enrolled in a master’s of education program to get my administrative credentials, so that I could more comfortably afford a child.
Two years after I’d received a donor catalog, I finally opened its pages to flirt with possibility. Reading the donors’ profiles was like a trip through Internet dating.
My role as a teacher also fed my doubts. I read a case about a teacher who became pregnant out of wedlock and members of the school board attempted to alleviate her of her teaching duties, claiming her condition would be a needless distraction to her students.
I worried about how I would explain my pregnancy to my students, colleagues and supervisors. Would I broach the subject with a discussion about the novel, “Brave New World?” Would I say as little as possible? Or, would I simply tell the truth: “I want to have a child and this is my option”?
Throughout the fertility process, it occurred to me that many couples who decide to create a family don’t undergo genetic compatibility tests. When falling in love, they don’t know their own blood types, if the female has had her rubella shot or family medical history.
Much like falling in love, I narrowed my donor search based mostly on features that held positive associations for me.
I became pregnant on my first try. I suppose it was to make up for all the delays I’d experienced for the two years prior to the insemination.
I miscarried eight weeks into my pregnancy. Devastated, I waited a year before trying insemination again without success.
After that, I saw my window of opportunity close based on what I’d learned about my uncooperative reproductive system, and adoption didn’t seem a viable option for a single woman.
I have to believe that a higher power is at hand here. Being a teacher for 12 years and an administrator for 13 taps into my limited well of nurturing and energy. I doubt I would have had been able to sustain meeting the many needs of thousands of teenagers and, as a single mother, meeting the needs of my own child.
I know there are educators with the strength and ability to separate work from home. I wasn’t destined to be among them.
Instead, I’m meant to be a dedicated aunt to five nieces and nephews, a great aunt to a delightful, kind and funny great nephew, and an educator/supporter of more than 37,000 teenagers so far.
My great nephew’s adoption has given all my family members another young person to love.
Most days I don’t mind not having been a mother because I’ve had the personal and professional pleasure of being a caregiver to many delightful, kind and funny young people.
Heidi Fedore of Lakewood is a middle school principal in Gig Harbor. She is one of six reader columnists who write for this page. Reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org