Friday, May 08, 2009

On Motherhood

Sunday is Mothers Day. Like most holidays, it's a great day for florists, greeting card companies, and long distance telephone providers.

For a long time, this was a difficult time of the year for me. I lost my mother to leukemia just a week shy of my 20th birthday. Her birthday was May 3, and Mothers Day was a scant week later.

I always knew I wanted to be a mom. But I never found the man with whom I wanted to spend the rest of my life. For many years, I did morning radio. That meant 4am wake-ups, and early nights. Not very conducive to finding and cultivating a relationship.

I always thought that I'd get married and have at least one or two kids. I finally decided that if I was still single when I hit 40, I'd just do it on my own.

Well, one day in early May of 1999, I decided the time had come. I was still six months away from my benchmark but, with the force of a lightning strike, I suddenly knew I was ready. I went online and began researching international adoption.

The idea of going through pregnancy and birth without a partner was nothing I even considered for a moment. Instead, I decided I'd adopt a baby from Russia, as that's where most of my family heritage was.

After 18 months of grueling paperwork and agonizing waiting, I accepted the referral of an 18-month old little girl from an orphanage in the tiny village of Karakastek, Kazakhstan.

Although she was older than I wanted (I was determined to adopt an infant under 12 months old), and was in a different country

(going with Kazakhstan meant re-doing my dossier - all the adoption paperwork - for a new country), I knew she was destined to be my daughter when these two photos showed up in my inbox!

A few years after bringing Alison home, I realized that she was born just around the time I decided, on the spur of the moment, that I was ready to find my daughter. Perhaps it was my mom helping me find her. Not only was May 3 my mother's birthday, it was also my daughter's!

You can read more about my journey to bring Alison home in my journal, which starts here.

And check out part one of the video I produced of our story here.

You can watch the rest of it here.

Today, many families choose international adoption as a way to have children. In my case, as a single woman, it was easier than going the domestic route. Plus, I didn't want to take a chance that the birth mother would show up on my doorstep one day demanding her child back.

The decisions we make regarding our route to parenthood are very personal. The idea of adoption is frightening to many, but there are also many unknowns when you have a baby the old fashioned, biological way! It's all a roll of the dice of life.

International adoption has been in the news lately, with many celebrities going this route. Perhaps their motivations have something in common with mine, and they don't want someone crawling out of the woodwork demanding money, or worse, their child!

But it's become something of a punch line when it comes to Madonna.

I honestly don't think much about what Madonna does. I'm not a fan of her music or her act. I didn't pay much attention to her marriages or relationships, not how or with whom she conceived her biological children.

But Madonna is making news today because of her quest to adopt a three-year old little girl from Malawi to go along with the little boy she adopted a couple of years ago from that same African nation.

Neither of the children in question are orphans. But she obviously felt enough of a connection to both of them, as well as their country, to pursue these adoptions.

I really don't fault her for that. But when prospective adoptive parents find their children in a foreign land, they must follow that country's rules on adoption. Malawi has very stringent rules regarding residency requirements, and I think Madonna's power play to challenge how this country protects its children is just plain wrong.

But then again, I understand that maternal instinct. Perhaps she should have researched the Malawi adoption laws before falling in love with its children.

Happy Mother's Day, no matter how you got here!

And just in case you were wondering, here's my 10 year old daughter, happy, healthy and a big handful, who is the love of my life, today...


Deborah said...

Hi Nicole...we spoke several years ago about your photo business & adoption. We adopted 2 kids from Russia in 2004. I am amazed at how beautiful and grown up your daughter is looking. My son, Alex, from Russia, continues to be very small. He is also 10 but looks like he is 7 or 8. Things are going well though. I am finding raising girls to be more difficult than boys! (our blog)
Debbie Mumm

RadioOrNot said...


Great to hear from you! We'll be talking a lot about adoption today on from noon-3 ET. I hope you'll listen and call in at 866-303-2270.

Cat said...

I just listened to the Friday Air America Live Mother's Day podcast.

We should all be grateful to parents who foster and adopt children.

Strangely, I listened to the entire show but it wasn't until I watched your adoption video diary that I realized that I am the grandmother of an adopted child.

I know that sounds silly, but my daughter and son-in-law started out as foster parents to Stevie. We didn't know if he would be staying with us or at some point going back to his biological family.

Regardless of the uncertainty, from the very first moment he had a place in our family and I often forget that we adopted each other. My heart tells me that he is simply my grandson.

The day that he was formally adopted was one of the happiest days for our family and I thought that I would share one part of his Adoption Day Video that I created for his Adoption Day Party last year.

Thank you again for another wonderful show.


Susie of Arabia said...

I really enjoyed this post, Nicole. Thanks for sharing that very personal part of your life with us. Allison is just beautiful.