The Power Of My Story

I had a (masked) massage today, and it was glorious. Wonderful because of the anti-stress self-care, but doubly so because of my friendship with my massage therapist. She's funny, and sarcastic, and real. And seriously talented; I feel like I have a new body when I leave her sessions. 

I used to be a silent massage person, but I so enjoy our conversations that we end up chatting the whole time, even as I'm blissing out.

Today she told me that a client recently related a story about someone close to them who was struggling to conceive, and she uttered, "I mean, they could just adopt." 

My friend/massage lady immediately said, "Oh no, you really don't want to be telling people that. It's not an easy option, here's my friend's story..." And then told her all the things we went through. She said, "I actually tell your story a lot."

It made my heart so happy. That's what I want -- not to be some sad cautionary tale, but to be a story that helps others to see a different perspective, to understand people in their own lives going through the hell that is infertility a little better, to help people going through it feel less alone. 

We ended up having a whole conversation about adoption, that brought up new (or maybe clarified) realizations for me:

1) I really feel that our non-religious status hurt us. 

2) We were really, really uncomfortable with any situation where the only barrier to parenting was money. That we could parents only because we had more money. 

3) We started wondering about why there weren't more services to keep families together, and realizing how much privilege went into being a prospective adoptive parent. 

4) We hated the idea of the private option. Things started feeling... predatory.

5) I started feeling like if I wanted to be successful I would need to quit my job. I didn't want to give that up for the possibility of being a parent. I really, really wanted to be a mom, but I didn't want that to be the entirety of my identity. Especially if it didn't work out... Then what would define me?

6) I felt guilt over that -- did I not want it enough? But I also felt strongly that I didn't want to give up myself. I felt there was more to me than possible motherhood, even as it consumed me. And I thought (and still think) that it's an awful lot to put on a child to be the center of your identity, to be the reason for everything. 

It was a moment where I could look at this, five years later, from a perspective of having a life after seeking parenthood. I could look at it objectively and without the heavy clouds of fresh grief. It's crazy to me that it was exactly five years ago that my eye started flaring up and I faced the beginning of the end of that life and the beginning of a new life. March through May marks the period of my Survivor-versary. 

I'm pretty damn happy with where we landed, how my story has evolved, and how it's used for a good greater than me.


  1. Oh, Jess, I love this! Yes, yes, yes. People who say "they can always adopt" just don't think of the complicated ethical issues around adoption, do they? Brava to your friend/massage therapist!

    (And thanks to an adoptive mum/adoption social worker friend in the UK who started me thinking about these things, and LoriLavLuz who continues my education.)

  2. A massage sounds great! So glad you got one and have a massage therapist you like!

    There are so many aspects to adoption that people don't think about when they off-handedly, breezily suggest the process to others.

    Your story is powerful. It's helped more people than we will ever know. Thank you for sharing it.

    I love where you've landed.

  3. I love that your story brings complexity to those who would otherwise stick with the simplistic (and incredibly incomplete) narrative. Yay for you and for your friend/massage person.

    I really enjoyed sitting with your 5-years-post-experience realizations. In a world in which a more nuanced and complex narrative prevailed, your first 4 points would have actually worked in your favor.

    As I type that, I understand it could cause a twinge of pain for you, but I think you know I say it with more than a hint of admiration for you.

  4. I love this! Thank you for sharing your story and for helping others through that!

  5. Those are all very valid reasons why someone might not want to adopt, or at least find it more difficult than anticipated to do so. As Phoenix said, your story is so important, and I'm so glad you have continued to share it. <3

  6. Yes I hate how casually some people talk about adopting. There is really so much more to it.