The following a guest post written by adoptive mom, Meka Sales.
Poked. Prodded. Period. Repeat.
This was the cycle we endured over nine years. Thankfully, it wasn’t constant. There were long breaks between each “intervention.” But the message was consistent - “No, you shall not conceive, carry and birth a baby.” I heard this refrain at every turn until one kind and gracious physician uttered the words that would eventually change my entire perspective.
She said, ‘There are a lot of different ways you can grow your family,” and handed me a pamphlet on adoption.
Until that fall day in 2012, I was fixated on the only way I thought was “acceptable” to be a mom to my family, my husband, and even to myself. By then, Mike and I had been married fourteen years and had passed into the fourth decade of our lives. And even though people stopped asking us about kids, I still questioned my suitability to be a mom. The question began to seep down into my very soul, until unexpectedly a gift came our way.
It was the gift of a community of adoption practitioners and families connected to our church who organized a summer learning series on adoption. Why was this a gift? You probably thought the gift I was referring to was a baby, right? This community, which later formed into Adoption Support Alliance, taught us everything we needed to know about adoption. But more importantly, it placed us on a path and connected us to the people that would lead us to our daughter in 2014.
Adoption was not widely discussed when I was a kid. Coming up in the Black community, you might hear about a grandmother or auntie raising a child, but we rarely used the word "adoption," probably because we thought it meant somebody or something "failed." There was shame in that word, and my husband and I felt that all through our adoption process and even after we brought our daughter home.
Anxious family members warned about children conceived in "violence." People wanted us to wait until our daughter was "old enough" to know her story. (And by "old enough" they probably meant "never.")
We learned quickly that we would have to block out these voices. Our worries and anxieties during the adoption process were only exposed to an extremely small circle which excluded some of our closest relationships. It became evident that their proximity was an emotional liability that we couldn’t risk and still be fully present for our birth mom, her two kids and each other. I learned during this process that the adoption journey is not about collecting all the information, so you know “what kind of child you are getting.” It’s about leaning into the questions of loss, separation and God’s providence.
In some ways, leaning into the lessons of adoption meant turning away from all that I had been taught about family formation and my role as a woman in the creation of life. The teachings no longer served me. They actually failed me. If I had solely relied on the lessons of my childhood, I would have never walked the path of freedom that ultimately led me motherhood.
Adoption Support Alliance laid a foundation, nurtured connections and delivered resources that we drew upon every step towards our daughter. Through its founders, Charlie Marquardt and Erin Nasmyth, we learned about the business of adoption, the racism and bias that exists within the system, and the many different domestic and international options, laws and policies that protect children and families (birthing and receiving). We learned appropriate terminology and how to navigate insensitive questions. We even learned the theological basis for adoption that calls many people of faith to step into this chasm of loss, which was something
I had not even considered or been exposed to within my Black Baptist upbringing.
If I had stayed in my old, insular life, I truly believe I would not have my daughter today. I would have been stuck, questioning myself and holding onto the idea that adoption was shameful. Instead, I found a new path, one that took me way past my comfort zone and forced me to gather new tools and learn new things to find my way. As a result, we entered an adoption process that was a bit unconventional and not built for a control freak like me. The requirements of our process held us accountable to our birth mom and her unique circumstance. And because of our relationship, we can share our daughter’s story with her with pride.
My daughter, like ASA, is five this year. In that time, I've learned that by stepping out on faith and allowing myself to be stretched, God can take the hard things of life and bring forth something new.
Meka Sales is married to Michael and together they have one daughter, Macey. She serves as the Director of the Special Initiatives at The Duke Endowment. Meka enjoys dancing, leadership development, and enjoying nice restaurants with family and friends.
There are many voices that inform our thoughts of adoption.
Finding a safe space to process our stories is essential. If you are interested in visiting a support group to see if it would be a good fit for you to do so, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We would love to be that space for you to consider your adoption journey.