We contacted another agency, or rather a referral service. They have informed us that they don't typically take gender requests as they rarely request an ultrasound to check gender unless it's entirely necessary.
And I have to admit my first thought wasn't "whew, no worries then!" but rather "wha? So I... can't pick if we go with you?" Contrary to what I'd previously felt, I'm kind of getting used to the idea of choice. I suppose that's one of the "good" things about adoption, you CAN choose. You can choose race, gender, culture, age, level of needs, etc.
But sometimes it's nice not to choose everything. To just leave the doors open and see who comes in.
We have names picked out. "A" for a girl, "C" for a boy. Rare-ish name for the C, nearly unheard of name for the "A". We're pretty set that it'll either be A or C, though if it's A that would certainly confuse things with Ambrose, at least in blog land... but that's our girl name so we'd likely call her "princess" or a nickname or just simply "she."
So now that we have names... we "know" who we'll be welcoming.
We'll either be adopting baby girl A or baby boy C.
Conversely, we either WON'T be adopting baby girl A or baby boy C.
And I think that's where the gender thing comes into play...
When I was a little girl I dreamed of my future family. I was going to be an artist and a scientist. Or a vet. Or an astronaut. Or maybe a Unicorn. And I wasn't so sure about this whole marriage thing because boys were oh so icky! But kids... I knew I wanted kids.
I wanted one son, and one alone. Why? Because I wanted one of my children to host a game show and I'd only ever seen male game show hosts. I would have this one son, and I'd love him enough...
But my daughters....
I would ADORE my daughters.
I would have two little girls, somewhat close in age, or maybe apart by several years with that boy somehow wedged in between. Didn't really matter. I would have my girls. They'd look like me and sound like me and have similar interests and I would totally understand them, and they'd never be awkward like me because I'd guide them through it, and they'd never be lonely like me because they'd have each other. Two little mini-me's taking on the world....
But that dream died as I grew up.
A new dream emerged somewhere in high school, solidified in college. Well, after the "I'll marry Howie D from the Backstreet Boys and have a dozen of his babies" phase.
I would have a daughter, then a son, then several years later we'd adopt a second daughter and perhaps another child or two of indeterminate gender.
I would have an unspeakable bond with my firstborn. She would be my first, my only for awhile. She may be blonde like Nik, which was possible given that I likely have that recessive gene (my mother was blond when she was younger). She would be strong willed, intelligent, beautiful.
I wanted to name her Serah. Nik liked Sarah, my sister's name, but I could never settle for a common name having detested being Megan M. or Megan #3 all my childhood years. I would have to mix it up somehow.
I dreamed of Serah. During the time before our marriage and briefly after, while we were TTC, I would dream of being pregnant. I dreamed of conceiving her, feeling her move, giving birth, nursing. I could see her! Feel her! Hear her! She was so, so close!
Those months before we discovered Nik's infertility I would spend hours just laying there, praying for her, meditating, almost trying to reach out to her soul and pull her into my body. I was so ready, not just to be a parent, but to welcome my daughter. My DAUGHTER.
Lord help me if I'd conceived and had a son....
We found out, 6 months into the marriage, that it wouldn't happen. Not without a lot of help, and possibly not ever.
My dream was shattered.
My vision was wiped away.
I said goodbye, with gasps and sobs.
I said goodbye to Serah.
Months passed. We chose adoption over fertility treatments. We looked into programs. I was disheartened to see that the wait time for girls was so much longer than for boys. I began looking into special needs under the guise of adopting a child that was less desirable. In truth, I wanted my daughter, but I wanted an excuse. I didn't just want to be another family with no children just waiting in line for a perfect little girl just because. I wanted a reason to have a girl. A good one. Not just because I only wanted a girl, or wanted a girl to be our oldest, but because she'd need us.
We looked into Viet Nam. We looked into cleft lip and palate.
But the cost, oh the cost!
Surely we'd only have one shot at this, one shot to become parents. With that much travel and that much paperwork and that much MONEY involved... what were the odds that we'd be able to do it again within a few years? To adopt only one was, in our mind, committing to raising an only child. And I'd been so. damn. lonely. growing up and I simply couldn't do that...
So we looked at programs where we could adopt two at once.
Viet Nam was a no go then.... and Kazakhstan was far too pricey.
I said goodbye again... to Lilika.
We chose Ethiopia. We chose a home study agency. We chose a well respected, established placing agency that would allow us to adopt two at once. We were going to get an older girl and a younger boy. I could FEEL it! And this is when I actually started to love the idea of a boy, because he wouldn't just be tagging along with his sister, he wouldn't just be the leftovers, only there to fill a bedroom and be her playmate, he would be a son. A SON!!! I would have a SON!
Lumina and Paxton.
Then the social worker decided we could have only one child...
We've since looked more into this agency, and as older and more experienced people we can safely say that they are highly unprofessional. But that didn't matter then.
I tearfully informed the social worker that this meant we'd likely get a boy. I just knew we would. I was... bitter. Angry. She thought I didn't want a boy. Truth was, I DID want my boy. I DESPERATELY wanted my son.
But oh, how I wanted my daughter too!
We couldn't get them to change their mind.
While in Ethiopia we got to meet the children we would have adopted. An older girl and younger son, who went to the family waiting just after us in line. We speak online. The children are happy and well cared for. In the past couple years this has brought great peace.
But at the time, it was the biggest heartache we'd ever gone through.
We had two children's bedrooms we'd been preparing. We closed one of the doors. We used it for storage and kept that room closed until we moved from that house. It made the hall dark.
We had suffered a loss, if only in our minds.
We had lost the possibility of our second child, our daughter.
We said goodbye to Lumina
The domestic adoption process was easier I think. I already had Paxton, living proof that dreams do come true. I knew the process could work, and I was confident that we were good parents. And we'd found a great home study agency that treated us well.
We picked two more names. Ambrose and Zenobia. Get the connection? No? Say them quickly together.... I'll wait.... try again.... see? Each one begins with the other one's ending sound!
It was our name pick for twins really, which we were open to. Ambrose was the name that came first, and then Zenobia to compliment it. We had no idea what we'd do if it was same sex twins!
Months passed and situations arrived and were matched all around. Some felt real to us. Others did not. We knew we'd be placed with a boy. We knew he'd be Ambrose.
There was one situation... a little girl, preemie, in the hospital... we applied... and we weren't picked.
And in my head, that was HER. That was Zenobia. None of the other girl situations were but this one, THIS, could have been it. Could have been our little girl. Could have been my DAUGHTER.
I got the news while pumping. I calmly stopped and cleaned up then went to check on P in his room. I only made it halfway down the hall. I barely had time to put my hands out on the wall to support myself as I gasped for air, trying to calm the deep sobs... oh, the pain in my heart! It was truly breaking at that moment.
That was when I said goodbye to Zenobia...
We've since met that little girl too, a sweet, happy little pixie. Her parents, first timers, are bright and sunny and so, so utterly in love. Again, this has brought peace.
The concept of a daughter has only brought loss.
Serah, Lilika, Lumina, Zenobia. And now? "A". Oh, fine... Arcadia. Like my favorite play, and favorite video game, and... well, a few other connections, and then a couple more with the middle names we've decided we'd like to use if possible.
What are the odds? What are the odds we'll be saying goodbye to that name as well? To that prospective child? To that possible daughter?
And does it really matter? Because if we do adopt an Arcadia, the we DON'T adopt a Conrad. And isn't he just as important?
Should I even consider measuring my children's importance in terms of their gender? Isn't that just what society is telling me to do, saying that I won't be satisfied until I have one of each?
Wouldn't I be the most blessed woman on Earth to celebrate three beautiful sons?
Truth is... I think I would be.
I think.... I think it matter less to me now.
And I think realizing this, that the yearning for a female child is mixed up with feelings of loss and grief...
I think that helps.
I think it helps to realize that it WASN'T a daughter I wanted the whole time....
When I wished for Serah I really just wanted a child at all. I would have taken a boy, gladly. I would have loved him, adored him, cherished him.
And with Lilika... I just wanted an adoption to go through. While Serah was the name given to the biological child we could not conceive, Lilika was the "perfect orphan" who desperately needed us that we came to realize did not exist.
And with Lumina, I wanted to children, siblings. I would have taken a second son, brothers. I wanted a family then, kids, children. Not just one child. I wanted a house full of noise and laughter and I was ready for it right. at. that. moment. Saying goodbye to Lumina was saying goodbye to any control we seemed to have left in family planning. And it was saying goodbye to a real human being, a second child that we came so close to having then.
With Zenobia... We didn't really lose much more than a name. Just a name. But I wanted my Ambrosey so badly then! Zenobia was... societal pressure. The boy + girl family dynamic. Why would I ask for a second son when I had a choice? But in a sense we did. We could have held out and we could have a Zen now. We didn't and we have the most adorable 1 year old on the planet.
And now... Arcadia or Conrad.... Cade or Con....
Does it matter?
If we adopt a boy, does that really mean we'll never have a daughter? Or a daughter figure? Or a grand daughter? Or son's girlfriends who are like daughters? Or daughters in law? Do we really lose anything?
And if we adopt a daughter, do we really lose anything there either?
In truth... on one hand we might lose the very boy-like vibe around here and we'd have to satisfy the needs of two genders throughout life. On the other, we might never have the possibility of raising a girl from infancy ourselves.
But isn't that life anyway? Aren't you always making trades? Chose X, miss Y, deal with it.
And we are so, so, SO blessed. Paxton is so calm and happy now, so compliant, so peaceful. He's spent the past few months talking about his past with me, talking about death and illness and loss and grief and Oh! The difference! The happiness! The peace!!! I cannot even describe! We are so blessed with him. And Ambrose! So big and fun and happy! And independent! And sleeping all night every night! And did I mention independent?
In the end it doesn't matter. Another child is another blessing. Another personality. Another human being. Another son will not be a clone of these two brothers, who are becoming so vastly different from each other even as they play with each other more and more. And a daughter will not break up a happy home by bringing in female diva vibes.
I think.... I'm making a decision here. One supported by my husband.
We won't ask for a girl.
We're going to leave it open.
And I won't be preparing to say goodbye. I'm so done with goodbye.
I will be preparing my hellos for the next wonderful blessing to enter our life.
Oh, how we will love this child!
Lily in a loafing barn
11 months ago