As part of the Unlabeled series, StereoType will share raw and authentic stories and perspectives from parents and caregivers of diverse backgrounds. These individuals have challenged their own stereotypes, leading to mindful transformations in their quest for a closer connection with their children. Unlabeled will spotlight stories of learning, breakdowns, breakthroughs, and transformations as parents and caregivers strive to become more attuned to themselves during their parenting journey.
Being a mother was never something I daydreamed about. When I met my husband, I immediately knew how important parenthood was to him and thought “If it happens, it happens.” We went through the motions of “trying” to conceive and when it wasn’t happening, we had a conversation over ice cream cones in Los Feliz. I asked him, "What do you think about adoption?" He looked at me with big eyes and said, "I think it's beautiful." I smiled. "Yeah, me too. Really beautiful."
I noticed the way adoption made me feel in my body. Vulnerable but open. Soft but sweet. Strong yet tender. It made me feel the way I do when I see my dad's eyes crinkle up with laughter. The way I feel when I'm really connected to others, sometimes in yoga classes, sometimes at church when visiting my parents, sometimes in nature. I felt it in my bones and knew it to be true. For me. For us. For this little human out there. I could close my eyes and picture every curve of their sweet, little face. I could picture the moment the car drove up and a social worker placed this baby in my arms.
I didn't feel this way when I thought about the other ways of becoming a mom. To be completely and utterly honest, I didn't even feel that way when I thought about myself as pregnant. I was trying to picture what someone else's version of motherhood and family looked like, and Photoshop my face on a dream.
Life happens like that. It’s so easy to feel when something is wrong, when something is not for us, not ours.
There was no trying anymore, no struggle or effort, everything that happened before brought us to the clearest moment. I felt mama in my body.This, this, is how we were meant to be parents. When we said the word ‘adoption,’ it felt right, like soulmate-right, and it made sense to me why I couldn't picture parenthood before. We chose this path. But really, I believe that it chose us. Foster care and potentially adoption was for us. But it doesn’t mean that we weren’t met with questions and judgments from time to time.
I remember when I handed a nurse my foster parent paperwork for certification at a physical. She looked at my paperwork, looked up and said, "I'm sorry". "Excuse me?" I said. "Can you not get pregnant?" she asked. I looked that nurse square in the eyes. "I think you meant congratulations, not sorry. This is exactly what we want to do and exactly how we want to become parents,” I said. I meant every single world.
This was the first of many insensitive comments I've heard and will continue to hear. But they pale in comparison to the amount of support we've received for our son Angel, who we fostered from six days old from when we adopted when he was two and a half. That being said, we have had much more support on this journey than we have had criticism. Angel — our child, now four – is loved beyond measure. By all of us: Family, friends, other foster families, social workers, even random people who have heard our story and stop me on the street and tell me how much it meant to them.
Adoption isn’t a black and white subject
It’s a journey that begins with loss for the child. That loss is something that we will work through with our son for the rest of our lives. But the love is big. And it’s honest. And it’s all encompassing. And in this crazy world, I need that reminder every damn day. If you feel called to foster or adopt, listen inward. You are being called for a reason and there’s someone who needs you more than you know. And you need them too.
Mary Beth LaRue is a yoga instructor, writer and mother and founder of Embodied by MB, embodiment-based offerings that include yoga classes, teacher trainings, retreats and workshops. Find her on Instagram @marybethlarue