When I was a teenager, I swore up and down I wouldn't have kids. Pregnancy and labor freaked me out, to be honest, and I couldn't imagine actually going through either. Into early adulthood and early marriage, I still didn't feel the deep desire to be a mom or have baby fever, but something was glimmering on the horizon. I could see the potential to want it someday. I knew one or both of us may change our minds at some point down the line, so my 'never' turned into an 'if'. "Well, if we ever have kids..." I would say, like a long shot - a distant, abstract idea in the future.
In the last few years, Mr. Ladd and I still never really caught the baby bug, but something deeper was brewing. Many of our friends and family started having kids, and we started having some serious talks about the future. We still didn't necessarily long for a baby or all the changes one would bring, but we realized we wanted a family. We wanted to be parents and have family around the table during the holidays. We wanted family vacations and grandkids, and all the good, hard, meaningful stuff of family. So we started casually trying to start one, and then more intentionally, and things weren't happening like we thought they would, so 'if' became kind of an ominous cloud of doubt. "What if we can't get pregnant?" "What if something's wrong." "If we have kids..." we said cautiously, not wanting to jinx it.
Our doubts were confirmed, and we were diagnosed with infertility last summer. We sat with that for a bit, aching with the constant knowledge that a door we were so hesitant to even open was suddenly slammed shut. We were told that going straight to In Vetro Fertilization would be our best and really only viable option given the circumstances. We'd always said the fertility treatment route was not for us. We knew we didn't want to go through any invasive procedures before even getting tested, but now what?
Adoption had always been an option. But it had all been hypothetical up to that point; if we had already been trying for a while, if we were diagnosed with infertility, if we were letting go of the possibility of biological children. But those ifs had become whens, and those things were actually happening to us. Now it was time to grieve the biological children we would most likely never have, and actually step nervously, but with a flutter of anticipation and excitement, into adoption.
As we start meetings, classes, and have tangible paperwork in our hands to adopt hopefully two siblings from state care, if has become when. I'm catching myself still saying, "If we have kids,..." and quickly changing it to "When we have kids..." If has become when in really difficult but beautiful ways, and while there are so many unknowns in adoption, we do know we will have kids, it's just a matter of when. That feels good, and it's something to hang on to. It's a vast improvement over the uncertainty of if.