I was sitting on the phone already hyperventilating as I asked the nurse to repeat what she said. “I’m sorry you’re going to need more help getting pregnant, there’s nothing more we can do at our office. I’m so sorry.”
I got off the phone and crumpled to the floor. I knew this was a likely outcome; I’ve had biological problems all my life. But, to hear that all the tests proved my truth hurt more than I could imagine was possible.
I’ve known forever that I wanted to be a mother. There was nothing more enticing than the idea of having my very own family. My first memories involve me mothering my sister- and brother, and caring for the people around me. I even had a family of cabbage patch dolls that I treated as my little children. Even after this gut-wrenching news, I never once doubted that I would be a mother, but it was then I knew my family would be a little more unconventional.
It’s funny to look back sometimes and think about how I “planned” on things going. This was not my plan. As a control freak letting go of my ideal life took some time. Our hopes of building a family would start on different terms. We threw up our prayers and decided it was the right time for us to explore other options. We knew almost instantly how we were going to bring children into our lives: foster-care.
Foster-care was always a calling I felt in my heart. It was something that I knew from a very young age I was meant to do. I myself am an alum of the system. I grew up in a not-so-good situation, was taken by the state, and eventually placed with family members when I was 13. I know the feelings most children in foster-care are juggling because I’ve had to do the same. The confusion, distrust, anxiety, hurt, depression, and downright betrayal were something I dealt with as a child and sometimes still struggle with in adulthood. I see foster-care as the answer to “why me?” I could use my story to help others, and to guide children in understanding what they were feeling and why. But most importantly I could love and advocate for children as they were displaced in a world where they had zero control.
We have had the privilege of loving 10 beautiful children all under the age of 5. On the day the caseworker dropped off our big boy Ethan I knew almost instantly that I could love him forever. He was a chunky little boy who barely fit in the baby carrier. Everything he came with fit in a drawstring bag. He has gifted our lives with so much love and laughter. Almost three years later we have the honor of calling him our forever son. Our daughter Mae came to us with a little more baggage. She had been in foster care since she was born, but loved so hard you would have never believed she’d experienced an ounce of hurt in her life. While we didn’t share DNA, I knew she was meant for me because she was my mini-me; emotional, loud, talkative, shy, clumsy, dramatic, and a lover of music. After being in the system for almost four years she too joined our family January 2019.
After we had welcomed these 10 little people into our family, and had to tearfully watch 8 of them move on, you can’t imagine my surprise not only to finally hear a doctor say the words “you’re pregnant”, but to find out we were having twins! Gianna and Lincoln were born in October 2018. Mae and Ethan have been such a loving big brother and big sister; it’s hard to imagine the trials they endured as they found their way through the system and into our family.
I’d say my greatest accomplishments are my children. These little hearts that were entrusted to me to guide, teach, love, and mold are what I live for nowadays. To think I could have missed this if I had let fear cloud my judgement, or the opinions of other people get in the way of my heart’s desires. Foster care requires a daily “yes,” a yes to opening your heart to possible heartache, and to unconditional love for a child navigating trauma. It requires a “yes” to investing your time and your everything into a child who may not be yours forever.
That phone call was the catalyst that brought me to my family today…The heartache that I thought could never be cured lead us to fill our hearts with children in foster care. My family may be unconventional, but the love that I feel is nothing short of the real deal.
This story was written by Alexis West for our Hello Parents series. Our mission is to create a community of extreme inclusivity. Appreciating what makes us different and what we all have in common. No judgment. Just a village of support.