‘So, do you just not want kids?’ I’d lie, tell them we weren’t ready. No one wants to hear their nurse say, ‘We can’t have babies.’: Woman embarks on foster care journey, turns ‘party of 3’ to a ‘party of 6’

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“We met in 2007. It was the tail end of spring and I had just graduated nursing school. A girlfriend of mine asked me to go out to a bar with her. She also told me our mutual friend would be there with a guy friend who they wanted me to meet. I didn’t have high hopes, but I wanted to go out and have a fun night, so I went.

As soon as we walked in, our friend found us and introduced me to him. It was like that moment in the movies when time stands still. I told him it was nice to meet him, then I looked directly at my friend and said, ‘I think I love him.’ It was from that moment on that we were inseparable.

Courtesy of Erin

From the very beginning of our relationship we were on the same page about our future. We both wanted to get married and have babies. He was one of 7 children and I was an only child, so we compromised and wanted 3 children of our own. We also talked about one day wanting to adopt.

In October of the following year, we stood barefoot and got married in front of the ocean. We were surrounded by 16 of our closest friends and family. We then honeymooned in the Bahamas before having to come back home to the real world.

Courtesy of Erin

I was working as a nurse in the mother baby unit at our local hospital so I was surrounded by sweet cuddly newborns on a daily basis. I had baby fever and we didn’t waste time trying. I just knew we would get pregnant quickly. I mean, how hard could it be?

Courtesy of Erin

The first few months weren’t successful but at first I wasn’t discouraged. Maybe we just needed a little more time? But month after month of negative pregnancy tests eventually started to devastate me. I’m sure I was just hypersensitive at the time, but it seemed that everywhere I looked, I was surrounded by pregnant women.

After a full calendar year of trying, my OB sent us to a reproductive endocrinologist. Since fertility treatments weren’t covered under our insurance, there was little we could financially do out of pocket. This just added more stress to an already stressful situation.

We continued to try for another 2 years with negative pregnancy tests month after month. I remember being so incredibly angry day in and day out. The bitterness consumed me. When I would get an invitation to a baby shower I would cry for days leading up to it, but still make myself go and put on a fake smile, only to come home and cry myself to sleep. I was angry at my friends and coworkers who got pregnant. I took it personal, like they were so inconsiderate to me by being happy in front of my face. I look back now and see how irrational my thought process was, but that’s where I was at the time.

Now, remember I worked on a unit surrounded by newly delivered babies and their over the moon mamas. Patients would always ask me if I had any children. I would just smile and say no. Often I would get the question, ‘So, do you just not want kids?’ and my heart would sink because I would have to lie. I would lie and tell them we just weren’t ready yet, but here soon we’d start trying. Because no one wants to hear their nurse say, ‘We can’t have babies. We’ve tried for years and spent more days than I’d like to count crying about it.’ So I would lie.

In the 3 years we were trying, we talked a lot about our options. We could afford some simple fertility treatments (which were still costing us and arm and a leg), but nothing more. We just simply didn’t have the money to do IVF or a private adoption. We talked numerous times about foster care, but wanted to wait just a little bit longer before starting that journey.

We used the extra bit of money we’d saved up for oral medications and injections, prayed, and attempted an IUI (intrauterine insemination). 2 weeks later the office did blood work and told me they’d call me in 48 hours (which was the longest 48 hours of my life).

I remember getting the call while I was at work and I was afraid to answer my phone. I could not mentally handle more disappointment. But I did answer, and it was one of the best phone calls of my life. We were finally pregnant! I remember going home at the end of my shift and crying. 3 years, month after month of tears, and now here we were. It was real! When I now went to work and patients would ask me if I had any kids, I could finally say yes. I didn’t have to lie anymore. This was a dream come true.

I had an uneventful pregnancy and in July of 2010 I delivered the most perfect red-headed baby girl. She was the answer to so many prayers.

Courtesy of Erin

When she hit 1 years old, we started discussing getting pregnant again. We knew it took so long for her and didn’t want it to take as long for another pregnancy. My reproductive endocrinologist assured me more than likely that wouldn’t be the case. She said once your body gets pregnant it tends to be easier for subsequent pregnancies.

Apparently not in my case.

I could feel the bitterness and anger coming back from that ugly place again. We tried treatment after treatment with no luck. I remember leaving the endocrinologist office and my sister in law called me to tell me she was pregnant. I had just attempted another IUI and had all these visions of us having our babies at the same time. Then 2 weeks later when I started my period I was devastated. Sitting through her announcements, and baby shower, thinking how I wanted it to be me wasn’t easy. More friends and family became pregnant, more baby showers to endure. More comments like, ‘If you just relax it’ll happen.’ I also felt guilty for being angry we couldn’t get pregnant again. I didn’t want people to see me as ungrateful and selfish. I was so incredibly grateful for her, I just wanted more than anything for her to have siblings. I had this mental image of our big family on vacations. I just wasn’t ready for the universe to say NO MORE.

Our daughter was 3 and mentally I was done. Something clicked in my head. I couldn’t continue to cry month after month over this anymore. I was so wrapped up in the world of infertility, it was making me feel crazy. We were standing in the kitchen and we both had that AHA moment. Foster care. It was time. Too many children in our own state, city, neighborhood that needed loving safe homes. There are roughly 400,000 children in the foster care system. We went to the informational meeting and knew this is where we’re supposed to be. We did 8 weeks of classes, filled out mounds of paperwork, were fingerprinted, and had background checks run on us. We were officially certified and then we had to wait. The waiting I was definitely used to.

Courtesy of Erin

I got the first call when I was at the library with my daughter. The social worker said she had an African American 5-year-old little girl and her 14-month-old brother that needed placement and were we interested. The little girl was close to my daughter’s age so I said yes! The social worker brought them over within the hour.

Courtesy of Erin
Courtesy of Erin

In the foster care classes, they always want you to remember that reunification with the biological family is always the goal of foster care. That’s another hard pill to swallow when you take care of these children day in and day out. The siblings had different fathers, and after a full year of being with us, the little girl went back to live with her paternal family. I was so happy for her, but yet felt sad for our loss. We still had our little boy, but the social worker was still trying to get extended family to take him.

Then, in November we got another call for an African American 6-week-old little girl. She was in the local children’s hospital and was about ready to be discharged into care. We didn’t know much about her but said we would take her. 3 months later we found out mom was pregnant again and we would be getting this new baby as well.

As of October 2018, all 3 of our children were officially adopted!

Courtesy of Erin
Courtesy of Erin

In what I feel was a very short amount of time, we went from a Party of 3 to a Party of 6. It’s not often these days that you see a family with 4 kids. Especially kids who (at one point) were 7, 3, 2, and 1. And especially a family where you have 3 African American children and 1 fair skinned redhead.

Courtesy of Erin
Courtesy of Erin

People look, A LOT. But you get to the point where you don’t notice it as much anymore. I think I had forgotten how special and unique our family was until we had our family vacation in Florida. The whole week people would see us walking places and start looking worried. They would start looking all around, panicked. They were looking for their parents. We would have to say time and time again that they are our children. I’ve started to notice my oldest daughter’s classmates will have questions. When they see us out they look confused and say, ‘Are those really your brothers and sisters?’ And she doesn’t miss a beat and just as proud as can be will respond with a YES!

I think people are just genuinely curious, but some can be rude. People will ask me where they came from. I try to not give them my ‘are you being serious right now’ glare and just kindly respond they came from foster care, in our own town. They’ll ask me how much I paid for them, which I think is an odd question to ask someone, but it’s perfect because it lets me tell the world that children adopted from foster care are FREE.

Foster care is not always butterflies and rainbows. We’ve had children come to us, then get returned to their biological family. Sometimes you agree with the Judge’s decisions and sometimes you don’t. There is stress and tears involved, but also some amazing times and memories. I often hear comments such as, ‘Wow, you’re such an angel’ and, ‘There’s no way I could do what you do.’ And the one that gets me the most: ‘There’s no way I could do it. I would get too attached.’ I always tell people that you DO get attached and that’s the point. You are the safe landing place for these children. You can give them love that they may have never felt before. And in the end it’s not about us and how we feel, it’s about the children.

Courtesy of Erin
Courtesy of Erin
Courtesy of Erin
Courtesy of Erin

I absolutely adore all 4 of my children and love them all equally. It’s hard to remember that time when I felt so empty and so angry. My house is crazy, but it’s so full of love. Every now and then I think what it would be like to have another biological baby, but then I think had we done that we wouldn’t have went on our path and been blessed with our crew. In that time when I thought I would be childless forever, I never imagined my life just a few years into the future.

Your babies may not always come to you the way you imagined, but they will come to you in the way they’re meant to.”

Courtesy of Erin
Courtesy of Erin

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Erin of Louisville, Kentucky. You can follow her journey on Facebook. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more stories like this:

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‘My father sent me out for cigarettes. With no shoes and one shirt, I decided to run away. I needed to find a place he’d never find me.’ Man rescued from abusive family, returns favor by fostering children in need

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