Life is a battle and if it isn't, you are not living up to your full potential. It has taken me over 40 years to figure this out. For most of my life I thought there was a permanent black cloud following me around. Life continued to test my fortitude in so many ways. For every obstacle I faced, I cursed it, I cried, I felt sorry for myself, and then I pulled up my big girl pants and did whatever I needed to do to face my challenge head on and conquer it. After the battle was over I felt amazing and I sincerely appreciated getting to fight the fight. Having cancer has given me an opportunity to look back on all the monumental moments in my life and realize I would not be the person I am today without each of these. I would be an older version of the poor little girl living in Wisconsin trying to just scrape by to be able to eat.
Also, as I look at where I am today and knowing I have about 10,000 days left on this planet (if I am so fortunate), I am still not the person I want to be. To be honest with you, I don't know who that person is right now. As I said before, in life you are just along for the ride in a car with no power steering (ha, I am so dating myself) and your job is to hold on tight to that steering wheel and turn with all your might in the direction you want to go. One of the many great things the executive leadership at my current employer has taught me is to be flexible and nimble. if something isn't working, you don't continue to do it. You change course and correct it. The world today is continuously evolving and if you don't keep up you will be left behind. Also, if you embrace this thought process and work diligently you will beat expectations. I have adopted this in my personal life, and I can tell you it has paid off ten fold. Look, I have two of the most amazing angels in the world!
Most people know our angels are adopted, and some people even know our story, so for you folks, yup, I am going to share it again! After Greg and I got married we started talking about children, and unfortunately I had to let him know that I was not able to conceive. If we wanted to go down that path we would need to meet with my fertility specialist, which we did. After three fertility specialists later and thousands of dollars they finally had a plan that gave us a 20% chance of having a child. The baby would not biologically be mine and I could not carry it. Ha, sounds like a winning plan to me! At that moment, I looked the doctor in the eyes and said if you were us what would you do, and he said he would not do it. We thanked him, walked out of the hospital, got in our car and cried our eyes out. As I am typing this, my eyes are welling up because that feeling is still so raw and painful. To come to realization as a woman, one of the most important things you were put on this planet to do, you could not do.
After a couple of months of crying and managing through the pain, we contemplated adoption. Upon completion of tons of research and meeting with a few agencies, we selected an agency and decided on open adoption within Wisconsin. And let me tell you, this is the most invasive thing I have ever been through. After a year of going through the tortue of the US adoption process, we were approved for two children. At the time we didn't understand why they approved us for two when we only wanted one, but the agency told us this is just the way they do it. We didn't question it.
Once you are approved you complete a questionnaire about what things you are willing to accept about the birth parents. The agency explained to us we could get as specific as we wanted, but the more specific, the less likely you are to be matched. All Greg and I cared about was having a baby. There was nothing, not one thing we would not accept. We just yearned to be parents. And within a month we got a call from the agency that we are matched. We were overjoyed. They said the mother was an African American woman that was due in a few months. The next step was to meet her. The director of the agency set up a meeting in a public place. Greg and I and the director all got there and we waited and waited and waited . . . No one ever showed up. What I can tell you is we had this happen three more times all at different levels. I told Greg one more time and I am done. I had nothing left in me. I was emotionally drained, and I was starting to believe being a parent was not in our cards.
I am attempting to make this story as short as possible; however, I believe there are so many key events that occurred, and if I don't share, you will not understand the magnitude of the journey we went through. Okay, with that said, please bear with me and let's get back to our journey . . .
A couple months later we received another call from the director at the agency and she explained that she has a possible match but the situation was a bit complicated. We could walk away if we wanted. Of course we didn't because this was the single most important thing in our life. The director proceeded to explain to us that a birth mother selected another couple for her child; however, this couple was clear that if she did not have a boy they would not go through with the adoption. So here we are in the ultrasound room watching the tech go through the process and reveal the sex of the baby to us. As the words "it's a girl" are announced my head started spinning. I know I was supposed to be happy, but my initial feelings went directly to anger. Anger at the other couple and how dare them decide this beautiful unborn baby girl was not good enough for them. Having child no matter the sex, health, characteristics or whatever is one of the biggest gifts a couple can go through. So there we stood in the hospital room feeling awkward, confused, happy, and angry. We were matched to a beautiful baby girl.
During this time a very dear friend of ours who adopted three children explained to us that is was our responsibility to connect and support the birth mom. This was a difficult time for all of us, especially her. We needed to provide her the love and support that she may not be receiving from her family and friends. So we did just that. We visited and spent time with her often. We had her to our home several times. I dealt with every phone call in the middle of the night when her boyfriend beat her up, and we visited her many times in rehab due to her drug addiction.
While we were managing through these struggles with this birth mom, I received a note from a niece of mine explaining that she knew of a birth couple considering adoption. She wanted to know if we were interested in meeting them. Based on everything that had happened to us up to this point, we were absolutely interested in meeting with them. During our meeting we clicked very well. They were smart, kind, loving and caring. You could tell with every word they spoke how painful this decision was for them.
If you are thinking you know where this story is going, you are absolutely correct . . . we decided to continue through with both adoptions at the same time. We reached out to the adoption agency to let them know how we were going to proceed, and remember, the agency approved us for two children. However, they were not having it. The director proceeded to explain to us that this was called artificial twinning as we would have two children weeks apart in age but yet they are not twins and not biologically related. Artificial twinning would be detrimental to the children as they grew up and she was highly against it. The evening we had that conversation with the director at the agency, we had dinner planned at one of our closest friends house. She is a smart, amazing, beautiful woman that was also adopted and her and her brother are artificial twins and they are only months apart in age. Some things were meant to be, and I am confident that dinner with our dear friend was meant to be. She talked us off the ledge and told us to continue with both adoptions.
Abigail Goldie was born on November 20, 2010 and three weeks later we were back in the delivery room and blessed with our second angel, Ayden Goldie. He was born on December 14, 2010. Talk about amazing and a complete change in our life! We went from zero children to two in the course of three weeks with not having one diaper or baby item in our home until after Abbey was born. So yes, we have artificial twins. Artificial twins that are best friends; that love each other more than anything; that are smart, caring, loving, grounded and kind; and most importantly two angels that we get to hear call us "Mommy and Daddy" for the rest of our life.
If you asked us if we would go through this journey again, we would both say without hesitation absolutely! It will be one of the most difficult journeys we will go through, just as cancer was. However, it is the most important and monumental moment in our life. We know everything is not in our control, but we do know that we are the only ones who get to decide how to handle these situations. The adoption process was similar to going through a significant change in your career or just like waking up and having cancer . . . they all require the same belief that if you really truly want to be successful and have a positive outcome, you need to be prepared for the battle and all that comes with it. You must continue to look forward and not back down. You must not question yourself and allow outside noise to deter you. And when you come through the other side, you will be on top . . . you will have succeeded and you will be a better person for it, appreciating the battle as well as the outcome.