I’ve always assumed that I would be a mother. It was never a concern for me. I started dating my husband when I was 15 years old and I have loved him fiercely every day since then. I used to imagine how he would be as a father and it brought me such joy to think about. I wanted a baseball team of boys. I dreamed about their little boots lined up on my front porch. It never occurred to me that that dream would not happen.
After 5 years of unsuccessfully trying to have our first baby, we finally made an appointment with a fertility specialist. As the appointment day approached, something just felt off. I rescheduled the appointment. I did this 6 times before finally cancelling it. It did not feel like the right path for me. The universe was pulling us elsewhere.
There are 4,000 children in the foster care system in Louisiana alone. Half a million nationwide. I couldn’t stop thinking about that. These children are in these situations through no fault of their own. Any of us could have been born into systemic poverty, into a cycle of abuse – we just got lucky that we didn’t. It made no sense to me, personally, to put my marriage, mental health, bank account, and emotional well being at risk to try to create a child when there were SO many already here who needed families and stability. I wanted to share the stability my life has with them. I wanted to help their families heal and support them through their case plans so that they could have their children home again.
My husband has always wanted to foster and adopt, but it was so hard for me to let go of the beautiful dream I had cherished for so long. The exciting announcement I would be able to make to our families, the tiny baby kicks I would feel as my belly grew, making a birth plan and getting all kinds of (good natured) flack for wanting a home birth, comparing myself to pictures of my mother pregnant with me. These are all things I assumed would happen to me, and I had to grieve that loss before I made a new plan. I did not want to adopt as a second-best option. I wanted to be fully, completely committed and excited about it as it’s own separate and beautiful path. And time went on. And I did grieve. I will always grieve that loss to an extent. But now, I was ready.
Our first placement was a sibling set of 2, ages 3 and 5. My world turned upside down. Zero to two kids overnight is a lot, y’all! But we adjusted and it became the best thing to ever happen to us. Our fifth placement was a tiny, perfect 3 year old girl. She is strong-willed and sassy and independent and I can’t believe that I am actually her mother, officially, as of September 5, 2018! I wrote her this letter for when she is older:
Adoption day. Wow. I cannot believe we are here. Today, I cry with thankfulness for the heartache that led me to you but also with sadness for the heartache that led you to me. If I could make it so that you never had to suffer the way you did in order to end up here in my arms, even if it meant me not getting to be your mom, I would do it in a heartbeat. I love you with all of my being and I want to engulf you in my love and protection forever. My heart aches when I think of the time when you were so tiny, so in need of that love and protection and did not receive it. I wish with all of my heart that I could have been there to meet those needs and it is hard to imagine that I did not even know you existed at that time. What was I doing in October of 2014 when you were born? Probably feeling defeated again while staring at a millionth negative pregnancy test. Definitely not thinking that MY baby girl was being born mere miles away from me in the same city. That MY baby girl was taking her first breath. Definitely not being so thankful that the tests were always negative, because they needed to always be negative in order for our paths to cross.
Though I did not feel your baby kicks in my belly, I get to kiss those sweet toes every night now. Though I did not get to hear your first cry, I am the one you run to for comfort now. Though your daddy never made midnight runs for ice cream and pickles for my pregnancy cravings, he makes all of your favorite foods now and coming home to us is his favorite part of the day because he is the father I knew he would be and more. Though we will never get told that we have the same eyes or the same smile, none of that matters. You could not be more mine. And though I couldn’t be there for you in the very beginning, I promise you today that I will always be there until the end. You will never, ever need to doubt that you are loved, wanted, and important. I love you forever, my Dahlia.
About Abby Ortego
Abby is a Ville Platte native who graduated from UL with a bachelor’s degree in Child and Family Studies an LSU with a master’s degree in Social Work. She is currently a hospice social worker in Lafayette and a part time artist. She is married to her high school sweetheart and they have been foster parents for the past 2 years. They have one adopted daughter, Dahlia. Abby loves horror movies, mystery books, and all things creepy. She has a cat, Theo, and two dogs, Bailey and Odin.