Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Considering the Roads Less Taken

Every so often someone will ask me if I've ever thought about adopting a child and becoming a single mother. Happened again on Sunday.

This is so much less appealing than the still-conceivable idea (please forgive the pun) of getting lucky and skipping straight to grandmotherhood that it tends to shake off the layer of self-pity I wear at times on account of having somehow ended up on the road less taken and missing out on what is apparently life's greatest joy: being a mom.

Whew, that's a long sentence. But it's a complex issue. I can joke about all this easily enough, but shoot, when my period was two weeks late this month - and not because I might be pregnant; I know that much about the birds and the bees - I felt a bit of panic: what, could it be too late? Is it all over for me? What's next, hot flashes? A bad back? Have I broken the biological mandate? Have I made a terrible mistake and missed what I was made for?

But back to adoption. While you don't have to pass a test or complete an internship to become a biological parent, to adopt, you do. I'm pretty sure they set the bar too high for the likes of me. I'm alone, don't have a place of my own, lack parents or siblings nearby to pitch in, and take home a salary that works for me but would probably look pathetic to the people who evaluate these things. Also, even though I like to be around kids I have little experience caring for them, much less the knack or demonstration of investment in child-rearing that I suspect the adoption-patrol would be looking for in releasing a precious child into someone's scare. Oops, I meant to type "care."    

What if I had a husband who was willing to start a family with me, one way or the other? Still not something to enter into lightly, not for the first time, when you're in your 40s. So unless God spoke to me directly about it, I would not voluntarily become a single mother. I know there are some who can. I just don't think I'm one of them.

Question: Would you ever consider adoption? Even if you were single? Why or why not?


Megan Noel said...

not i, but i lack the energy. as for you i do not think you are officially too late. women our age do sucessfully have children. and there are other options. you know brent REALLY wanted a child and it ended up he could not have one, but he married alta and got a great stepkid.. so sometimes things do work out even if not in exactly the way we plan. there might be some man out there with 5 kids who thinks no sane woman would date a man with 5 kids and then .. oh, wait, are you sane ? :) i don't think you should give up on having kids in your life and just be open to all the different ways that could happen, not just 1 way.
that said, turning 40 has been a bit of a blow in some ways. i was at a baby shower a couple weeks ago. everyone there was a mom, pregnant, or planning to have kids except myself and 1 other woman in my age range. it did feel a bit like being in a foreign country!

Fiona L Cooper said...

I've been asked that on occasion too. But as far as I can see, ideally it takes minimum 2 people to raise a child, and why would I want to take on single motherhood when the single mothers (and even the married ones, but especially the single ones) seem incredibly stressed with having to do it all on their own. So no thank you!

If I was married, I'd definitely consider it though.

Marti said...

Meg: True, these things could happen any number of ways. And truly, I am enough of a big girl to accept never getting the baby doll I whined for. Oh wait, maybe I never =did= want a doll... And lucky for me, I have lots of training and experience in navigating life as a "foreigner" in the country of other people.

Fiona: I tend to agree... proponents say a single mom is better than an orphanage and I see the point but it does still seem like a special calling, to go into voluntarily; we've all seen how terrifically hard it is to be brought into single motherhood through unwanted pregnancy or divorce.

If I were married, though... well, it would certainly depend, at my age, on the family (incl. economic situation and joint 'vision' of the future) we'd be bringing a child into. If I married a much older guy (almost did) would I start a family? (he wanted too!) Friend of mine (who adopted) is now raising toddlers as a widow. She's one of those people who seems "made" for motherhood, though, and I think she's getting a lot of family support. Another friend is 30ish, mother of two, was just widowed out of the blue. Parenthood by any means and at any time is risky business, of course. As is love!

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