Sometimes I will be driving in the car, or tossing a salad for dinner, or even mindlessly putting on my socks (preferably the one pair I own without holes), and I stop and say to myself “Oh my goodness, Cheryl—you have eight kids!” And I promise it’s not after enjoying a couple of stiff margaritas! No, this happens randomly, sometimes only a couple times a year, but when it does, it truly takes my breath away, and I have to pay it some attention because nearly 25 years ago, I didn’t think I’d have one, never mind eight.
We wanted children quite soon after we got married at the starry-eyed ages of 23 and 24—well, let me be clarify—I wanted children that soon on, my husband wasn’t in the same rush to change diapers as I was. Being the devote newlywed man that he was, however, he lovingly went along with the plan, and after the first two years of waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for Mr. Stork to arrive, it was Brian who was stoic and unbelievably positive each month when we were disappointed—not me. I was too busy living month to month under a dark and gloomy cloud—with a focus on what we didn’t have—children—instead of what we did have, each other.
Nearly 6 years and 3 miscarriages later, I declared “enough is enough” and we entered the world of adoption. My husband’s optimism had finally lifted me to a new place of hope, and there was finally no doubt in my mind that we would have a baby to love, nurture, and raise as our own either through the gift of adoption or the miracle of birth.
Once I had let go of the fear of not being a mother, things began to move in our favor rather rapidly. We found an agency that we felt very comfortable with out in Colorado and were accepted within just two weeks. Next—we had a very thorough home study (including an awkward rendition of Kumbaya) and once that was completed, we were told to be patient as it would be highly unlikely we’d be matched with a birth mother for at least 18 months.
Just three weeks after our home study was completed, we received a call from our adoption agency that a birth mother had chosen us and that she was due to give birth later that same week! This was the stuff dreams (and movies!) were made of—not what a 29-year old couple who had two cocker spaniels and a home that was desperately in need of a makeover would’ve ever expected.
One hour before we left for the airport to fly out to Denver, we received a congratulatory call from our adoption agency that our baby girl had been born moments before. It was official—I was finally a mom! Well, almost.
We flew First Class (compliments of US Air) to Colorado and arrived at 1 AM Eastern Time. We were exhausted from the travel and the emotional excitement and anxiety that we had been carrying for the past week. Once in Denver, we were told we could go to the hospital right away and meet our new baby. That was nearly 18 years ago, and I can remember it like it was yesterday. It was probably the most important and defining moment of my life. I was a mother because another woman who couldn’t care for her baby made the painful and selfless decision to place her for adoption with us—a couple from Rhode Island that she had only spoken to on the phone for 10 minutes but she trusted based on our scrapbook of photos and because she said she felt a connection with us when we spoke by phone. Sometimes, I still can’t get my head around that. I often wonder if I could’ve been that brave.
We stayed in Colorado for nearly three weeks while all the paperwork and legal issues were handled. On June 29, 1993 we flew home with our 3-week old baby girl and then—I was truly a mom. On June 29, 1994 I gave birth to our son—one year to the date that we arrived home with our daughter. A coincidence—I think not.
That was the beginning of the end—the end of a long, powerful, life-changing 6-year bout with infertility. Between 1993 and 2005 our family grew from one child to eight! (And yes, in case you’re wondering, eight is definitely enough!) We have been blessed with three daughters and five sons in a relatively short span of time.
Mother’s Day used to be a very empty and painful day for me because it was a reminder of a dream that I desperately wanted to fulfill. Now, nearly 18 years after I finally did become a mom, I realize that the long and tiring road I traveled to finally reach motherhood was one of the greatest journeys in my life. If everything hadn’t happened precisely the way it did then my destination—mother of my eight kids—wouldn’t have been possible. Every one’s path to parenthood is different, and some must take a detour and never reach it at all. I’ve realized my job is never to question how I got here, but instead, to cherish and learn from all the pit stops and crossroads that made my miraculous journey possible.
Copyright 2011 Cheryl L. Butler