Pregnancy After Adoption

Pregnancy After Adoption

I know, I know. Everyone – and I mean everyone – has that anecdotal friend who went through a decade trying to get pregnant and/or thousands of dollars in fertility treatments, and/or years of adoption efforts, only to wind up naturally pregnant when they least expected it.

As it turns out, I’m that anecdotal friend.

Here’s the short version of the backstory: After attempting to get pregnant for the recommended year or so in our late 20s, we saw several specialists who couldn’t find anything amiss with either of us (official diagnosis: “unexplained infertility”). We were told our best chance for a biological child was to try IVF, which we both felt was not the right choice for us.

We did some research on the various routes to adoption, and found ourselves drawn to the idea of becoming foster parents and possibly adopting through the foster care system.

So that’s what we did.

Our 4th foster child and now-adopted son, J , at 1 week old.

Over time, any interest I’d ever had in being pregnant vanished. My husband and I re-discussed the option of fertility treatment shortly before I turned 35, and neither of us had any desire to pursue it.

By the time I turned 38, we had been foster parents for 6 years and adoptive parents for 4 years. We had a teen, a preschooler, and 2 toddlers at the time. Our house was brimming with beautiful chaos, and our hearts were completely full.

“The Triplets”: ages 4, 2, and 1 when I got pregnant.

Then we found we found ourselves staring at an ultrasound screen with the sound of a little heartbeat filling up the room and a nurse congratulating us on being 10 weeks along.

I’d had no symptoms except feeling mildly bloated and needing to pee a lot, and thus was fully expecting a diagnosis of a raging UTI, the requisite antibiotic prescription, and to be on my way.

Instead, there was a tiny baby flitting around on the screen. We laughed and cried and took our first pictures of Baby T.

Baby T at 13 weeks.

On the heels of our announcement came the enthusiastic and well-meaning comments:

“You finally stopped trying and relaxed, so you got pregnant!”

Or: “I’m so glad you get to have your OWN baby!”

Or: “I knew this would happen!”


Thing 1: “Relaxation”, while of course helpful for your blood pressure and general health, does not automatically result in successful pregnancy. Let’s all agree to stop talking like we’re one mediation session away from unlocking the mystery of fertility. Also, while I loved – and mean truly LOVED – the season of our life where we had a teen, a preschooler, and two toddlers at home, I can confirm in no uncertain terms that I was not relaxed.

Thing 2: Let me take this moment to reassure everyone that our adopted babies ARE our “own” babies, and we love them more than life itself, despite the fact that they do not share our DNA. In fact, I know we can all personally attest that sharing DNA with someone is far from a guarantee that you will like them at all, much less adore them.

Thing 3: No one “knew this would happen”. Couples diagnosed by a medical professional as infertile have variable (low) chances of natural pregnancy, depending on the factors behind the diagnosis. For some couples, the odds of having a biological child are truly are at zero, and it is not going to happen for them no matter how many good vibes are sent their way.

And the chances of natural pregnancy for infertile couples do not magically improve with things like dropping money on IVF or filling out adoption paperwork.

And yet, here we are, and I’m now one more of those women who was infertile, adopted a baby, and then got pregnant without trying.

After the shock subsided, worry took its place. Worry about all the usual things that all pregnant women worry about, of course. Worry that my cold brew habit and that Hawaiian punch I’d had on vacation and all that running I did before I knew I was pregnant had hurt my baby. Worry that I wasn’t eating enough vitamins, or doing enough prenatal yoga or playing enough classical music.

But an even deeper worry that our 4 year old son, J, who we brought home as a newborn, would think we got pregnant because adopting him hadn’t been good enough for us.

And worry that our acquaintances would think the same.

Despite many areas of progress over the years, society still sends children and parents the strong and repetitive message that adoption is undesirable. That birth parents, adoptive parents, and adopted children are all irreparably damaged. That it’s a tragic last resort for everyone involved.

As you might suspect, I take serious issue with this messaging. But that’s a post for another day.

J rockin’ some amazing hair at 1 month old.

Lucky for us, my pregnancy wasn’t anything but fun and interesting for J. He showed off the ultrasound pictures, explained to anyone who would listen that he was getting a little brother, talked to Baby T constantly (“I’m your big brother!!!”), and gave my belly lots of kisses.

28 weeks after that first ultrasound, my water broke fairly dramatically and Baby T made his grand entrance into the outside world.

J bounced in to our hospital room, held him and kissed him and nearly shouted at him in his excitement: “I’m your big brother, remember??!!”

J kissing T in the hospital
Our boys’ first official meeting!

Now, 9 months later, they are each other’s favorite people in the whole world, and Baby T has decided to crawl specifically so he can get to wherever J is.

I am in constant awe of the miracle of pregnancy and childbirth and the miracle of adoption.

I fell in love with J the moment we got the call that there was a newborn at the hospital that needed a home. I fell in love with Baby T the moment I saw him on that screen.

Both times, I was blown away by how much I could love a tiny person that I just found out existed. By the immediate and primal need to protect them. By the heart-wrenching vulnerability that comes from caring about someone so much.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter to me at all how they came to be mine. My feelings for both of my precious baby boys have always been the same, and I would repeat either experience (or both experiences) in a heartbeat.

Check back with me in 20 years if you like, but I’m willing to bet those feelings are never going to change.

One of J’s many unsanctioned visits to T’s crib, captured by the baby monitor.

2 Replies to “Pregnancy After Adoption”

  1. What a beautiful story about your children. And great insight. I always thought it was odd that people say they can’t love someone as much who isn’t their blood or biological child. We love our spouses, and I presume they are not related by blood (unless you go back a few generations…)

    1. I 100% agree! 😀 Thanks for reading and commenting, Gina! So glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂

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