Chapter 4

The Circle of Adoption

People often assume that my husband and I couldn’t have more biological children after the births of our two boys, Jonah and Ezra, and that’s why we opted to adopt our third child. That assumption is wrong.

My husband and I had actually talked about adoption from the very start of our relationship. It was important to me that Doyle be on board, not only with possibly adopting a child someday, but also with the concept of adoption. I have heard people say things like “I couldn’t love another man’s child like my own” or “adoptive kids are all screwed up.” One of my friends told me her husband, when approached with the idea of adopting from China or Korea, balked. “He just isn’t so sure about those foreigners,” she said. (She said “foreigners” in a fake hillbilly accent to lighten the sentiment. Yeah, that went well.)

These statements, while delivered benignly enough, struck a blow to my heart and identity. Was I some kind of “foreigner,” somehow harder to love or intrinsically messed up? I may have been a Canadian with Western European roots, but my friend’s remark made me feel decidedly “other.” (I can only imagine how much comments like this feel for adoptees of color.) When other friends would complain to me that their husbands (or were their husband really the problem?) wouldn’t even consider adoption, it all added up to a disturbing picture: Adoptees are definitely “other,” probably a mess, and overall not as valuable as “natural born” children—as if adoptees’ births are like something out of the movie Alien.

I could not have articulated in 1990, when I met Doyle, why it mattered so much, but I knew my potential life’s partner had to get it. He had to be the kind of openhearted guy who accepted my place in my family as equal to that of a biological child. And Doyle is that kind of guy. So just about a decade later, when our eyes locked in shock after the words “It’s a boy!” rang out in the delivery room, the seed of adoption fell on fertile soil. We had been told by the ultrasound technician that we were most likely having a girl, and when it was darling Ezra instead who was delivered that day, I had an epiphany. Our girl was going to be named Phoebe—a biblical, literary, and nature name we both loved. It meant “bright, shining star.” As I cradled my newborn son in my arms, I knew with certainty that somehow, from somewhere, we would adopt a girl. A bright, shining star was coming to us all.