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A Mother's Adoption Journey

Twelve years into her marriage, Darlene realized that she wanted a child. At age forty, things weren't going to be that easy. In this humorous, warm and poignant book, Darlene decides that the most sensible option left to her is adoption. Through narrative and diary excerpts, she details the emotional ups and downs involved in the process. Ideal for potential parents and professionals, this book gives all the factual information needed during the adoption process and prepares the reader for the joys and challenges that may lie ahead.

November 2001
Second Story Press
ISBN 1-896-76449-5
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“Ryan’s warm deeply personal style affords a powerful emotional journal…” —University of Toronto Library

“An adoption journal, humorous, warm, poignant, and full of anecdotes, essays and practical facts.” —FamilyHaven.com


November 4, 1996

I decided I wanted a baby during an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It was the two-part Borg episode, which I've probably seen ten times because I'm a sucker for Jonathan Frakes. I started imagining what beautiful, manly little babies he'd make. And then I knew, in that moment, that I wanted a child. All the other things came later. At that moment in front of the television my biological clock didn't start ticking. It suddenly went BONG, BONG, BONG.

I don’t know how many times I’ve said I didn’t want a child. What I always meant, what I believed, was that I wouldn’t be any good at it. And I thought it was important to be good at everything I tried. As a kid, I was told what most kids are: Do your best. But somehow what I heard was do it better than anyone else.

As I got older I found I didn’t always have to be perfect. I could see it wasn’t making me happy—just crazy. I was lucky to make friends who didn’t expect me to always be the best and didn’t care when I wasn’t. Watching my friends with their kids I learned excellent parents have doubts and anxieties and sometimes grope for answers too.

I don’t think my change of heart really happened all at once. I think over time my courage has been building. I don’t think I can stop myself from wanting a child anymore.

I've never really thought I had what it takes to be someone's mother. I don’t know if I have enough patience. Am I competent, loving, or selfless enough to do the job well? I like life clean, organized, and on schedule—three things kids almost never are. I have an image in my mind of the perfect mother, which, I admit, was shaped partly by way too many episodes of The Partridge Family and The Brady Bunch.

February 5, 1997

Now that we've decided to do this I feel almost frenzied to make it happen. I carry around a lined yellow pad and make lists every day. Today's has a list of parenting books to find at the library, the date of a back issue of Consumer Reports that has an article about baby furniture, an herbal supplement they talked about on the “Today Show,” and the name of the wrinkle cream advertised in the commercial break.

October 4, 1998 (Beijing)

The group is splitting up. Ten families, including us, are adopting babies from Wuzhou. The other seven are traveling to Nancheng. We have a new guide until we get back to Beijing. Her name is Louisa. We're on a China Xinhua Airlines jet on the way to Nanning. Nanning is the capital of Guangxi province. Wuzhou, where Lauren is from, is in Guangxi too, farther south. Tomorrow morning or maybe even tonight we'll see our daughter for the first time.

(Later - Nanning)

Then I heard someone say, "Here they come." And the babies began to arrive, in their nannies' arms, one after the other, almost like a parade. Roger called out each child's Chinese name and then the parents' names. I was out of my chair, crossing the room.

"Where are you going?" Pat whispered. Roger hadn't called our names, but I'd noticed the second baby at the door. My baby. She was frowning just the way she was in that little picture I'd memorized. Then Roger called her name and ours and I was holding my daughter. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I couldn't take my eyes away from her. I know they'd said it wasn't possible to love her on sight but oh, I did. She was very quiet, serious. Most of the other babies cried, but Lauren didn't. She let me hold her and didn't even try to go back to the nanny. Mostly she looked puzzled. She was probably wondering, who is this crazy woman dripping tears all over me?

Copyright © 2001 Darlene Ryan