What One Mother Wishes You Knew About Adoption
What One Mother Wishes You Knew About Adoption

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What One Mother Wishes You Knew About Adoption

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Essential Takeaways

  • After discovering that a series of medical conditions would make for an unsafe pregnancy, Kelle Amaro made the decision to adopt—and is now the mother to a 2-year-old son.
  • “I would go through the pain, surgeries, and all those experiences a hundred times if I knew that's what it took to be Elliott's mama.”

Kelle Amaro always knew that she wanted to be a mom someday. But she also knew pretty early on that her path to motherhood might not necessarily be typical—whatever that means. After dealing with horrific period pain for several years starting when she was in junior high, Amaro was diagnosed with endometriosis, a condition that causes endometrial tissue to grow outside the uterus. Endometriosis afflicts as many as 1 in 10 women during their reproductive years, and complications can sometimes lead to infertility. So long before she was ready to even think about becoming a parent, Amaro had already come to terms with the fact that the journey might be a little complicated.

As she dealt with the pain and unknown that often accompany endo, couldn't possibly fathom at the time that it would all eventually lead her to Elliott, the two-year-old son she and her husband have fostered since birth and legally adopted this year. "I wish I could have told myself how full my life feels with him in it, but I don't even think old-me could fathom that," she says. "It's just one of those things."

But Amaro and her husband are already planning on going through the process once more, to give Elliott a sibling. Below, she shares an intimate look inside her reproductive journey, and why the ups and downs of foster-adoption were so, so worth it.

What do you wish others knew about your experience with endometriosis and infertility?

Back when I was in Junior High, I started struggling with incredibly painful periods. After 9 years of being undiagnosed, shuttled between doctors offices, and being told by most professionals that I just needed to toughen up and that this was "part of being a woman", I was finally surgically diagnosed with endometriosis.

Endo, as we not-so-affectionally call it, is a condition where the endometrial lining grows outside of the uterus, creating scar tissue, and fusing organs together. There are a few treatments for it, but no known cure. It's one of the leading causes of female infertility and causes many women debilitating chronic pain as well. I had two surgeries; actually flying out to Atlanta for the second one to be seen by specialists out there in hopes of ending this battle once and for all and thankfully, after that surgery, things got a lot better.

The surgeons actually told me that my body still looked capable of carrying a child, but the problem we ran into was discovering I'm allergic to progesterone. My doctors told me that it would be incredibly difficult for me to maintain a pregnancy because progesterone is such a necessary part of that process and my body would essentially be fighting it off the entire time. My infertility journey is weird in a way, because I had kind of been processing this news since I was a teenager, sitting with all those doctors who told me I'd never be able to get pregnant. My husband married me knowing we were likely going to face these hurdles, so neither of us were blindsided by anything, which helps a little. But facing it when you're actually at a point in life where you're ready and wanting to have kids and everyone around you is getting pregnant is a whole different thing. It's something I think I'm going to have to come to terms with multiple times in life. I'll be fine for weeks, months, even years, and then suddenly I'm facing the emotions of it all again. Grief and healing aren't linear processes and I'm okay with that.

Tell us about your journey to adopting Elliott.

When we decided to adopt, we met with families we knew who had walked the path before us and after hearing their stories, we felt a super strong pull to do foster-adoption. We decided to sign up for orientation through our county and just take it one step at a time, but things ended up moving way quicker than we expected! We took our classes, had our home inspection, met three times with a social worker who wrote our home study (a document that details everything about your life to help social workers find the best match for a child) and we were listed as "waiting and available" within 9 months!

The process was pretty grueling: tons of paperwork, a lot of really tough conversations about the children who come into care and things they've experienced, and a lot of social workers diving deep into our marriage, childhoods… nothing was off limits. But even those things just made us feel more and more like we were meant to do this! We busied ourself decorating a nursery that would work for a boy or girl, 0-2 years old, which was the range we were open to. My mom and mother-in-law threw me a beautiful baby shower and all the guests brought gift cards so that when we got the call that we'd been matched we could run to Target and grab whatever size clothing and age-appropriate items we needed, which was super helpful.

We had expected to wait months before we got matched, but after just two weeks, our social worker called me one afternoon and told me we'd been matched with a baby boy who had just been born that morning. Cue my hysterical tears and jumping up and down! The next morning, we met with social workers, signed documents, and got to go to the hospital and meet our son and bring him home. I was hardly able to see him through my tears but I knew he was perfect. The first week felt like a dream. I'd peek in his bassinet and was amazed every time he was really in there! We were his foster parents for 615 days before we finally were able to go to the courthouse and legalize his adoption. The courtroom was filled with our friends and family—the judge said she'd never seen so many people show up for an adoption. He is one loved little guy and we are so thankful he's ours!

Was there anything that happened in this process that was unexpected?

I don't think there's much about foster-adoption that goes according to plan. And there is not one single case that looks just like another. We learned to never believe timelines (they're always shorter or way longer than expected!) and to relinquish control in order to save our sanity. There's a lot of waiting and radio silence and then suddenly there's a lot of checking in and appointments and things happening. We definitely plan to adopt again in the future, but we know it will be a whole new ballgame the second time around. It won't be the same as our process with Elliott and we will have to try our best not to expect it to be… but the mystery of it is all part of the fun!

What advice would you give other people who are considering adoption?

Be open-minded. Don't feel like you have to be willing to take on more than you're capable of, but step out of your comfort zone a little bit! In our classes, the rooms started out packed and by the "graduation week" there were 6 couples left. I understand how overwhelming and scary it can be to consider all the unknowns—birthparents who might want contact, adopting a child instead of a newborn, parenting a child who has been exposed to trauma or substances, falling in love with a baby who may not stay in your care forever… but from our personal experience and the experiences of the other foster-families who've been on this journey alongside us, it is so worth the risk. I especially love the quote: "I'm not afraid to grieve. I'm afraid of what will happen to these children if no one takes the risk to love them."

How are old stigmas and definitions around what it means to be a mother changing, from your perspective?

I feel like there's a lot of pressure being a mom in the age of Pinterest perfect parties and perfectly curated Instagram feeds. No matter how much I'm doing, it can start to feel like someone else is always doing more. The comparison game is super common but obviously unhealthy and useless. Running into a well-known Insta-Mama at the mall while her child threw a raging tantrum on the floor was a great way for me to be snapped back to reality! Nobody is perfect. Nobody is "doing it all". We're all just doing our best. We can all love our kids more than life itself and all have different priorities than one another.

I think one of the most freeing parts of being a mom in 2019 is that it's okay for "MOM" to not be my sole identity. I'm a mom, sure. And it's my favorite title in the world. But I'm also an educator, a wife, a friend, a daughter, a student, and many other things. And I'm so thankful for the experiences outside of motherhood that fulfill me and bring me joy. Because adding that to the joy and fulfillment that comes from being Elliott's mom can only make life better!

What do you wish you could have told yourself at the start of your parenting journey?

I wish I had known that being able to effectively manage a classroom of 24 students is somehow infinitely easier than effectively managing one tiny toddler! Jokes aside, when I was in the really deep trenches of endo pain, not understanding why I couldn't find relief, not understanding why I couldn't get better, I wish I knew it would lead me to Elliott one day. I feel like knowing that pain was somehow directing my path to him would have made the days feel a lot more tolerable. I would go through the pain, surgeries, and all those experiences a hundred times if I knew that's what it took to be Elliott's mama.