Catherine adopted her daughter 9 years ago. She admits to something wonderful in this interview that applies everyone, parents or not. She admits that during a tough time, yoga didn’t help. Yoga wasn’t magic. But her life now is quite magical and her outlook is very thought-provoking. For example, she calls the decision to be child-free “courageous.” Those of us who are child-free by choice know that it’s more common to hear, “In a few years you’ll change your mind.” Catherine’s experiences with adoption and motherhood have given her broad and valuable insight.
When did you first know that you wanted to be a mom?
For a long time, I wasn’t really sure that I did want to be a mom. I felt that I had to get to a certain point in my life where I knew where my soul compass was headed, and once I got there, then I would consider parenthood. [Kevin and I] were in our early thirties before we decided to start trying to make a family. It wasn’t until about a year of trying that we began to suspect that maybe there was a problem. We saw a doctor, and at that point it was clear that becoming a mom wouldn’t be straightforward.
What advice do you have for women and couples who can’t conceive on their own? What helped you cope during the frustrating times?
We tried for five years to conceive and we did pursue infertility treatments. During that time, I had a wide gamut of emotions- anger, sadness, frustration. It was truly one of the most painful and darkest periods of my life. To help me get through it, I spoke to friends and family and went to a couple of support groups. Coincidentally, a lot of my friends were struggling, too, so they understood where I was coming from and could offer me advice.
One of the most important lessons I learned is that you make the best decision you can at that time with the information you have. It’s also important to be completely honest with yourself and honoring your decision. There are so many questions that come up: Should we pursue infertility treatments and, if so, which ones? What am I comfortable pursuing? If infertility treatments aren’t an option, what about adoption- domestic or international? Once I realized
that I was making the best decision based on how I felt, this left me feeling a lot more free and comfortable making the hard decisions. I knew that from there on out, I could believe and be confident in moving forward with whatever decision I made. I was very lucky because my husband supported me and we were on the same page throughout the entire process. Some marriages crumble, so it’s important to know how your partner feels, too.
In one support group, many of the women had gone through one or two rounds of IVF (in vitro fertilization,) whereas I had done a few attempts at IUI (intrauterine insemination.) These women seemed consumed and obsessed with getting pregnant. I asked myself, “What’s most important, Catherine, being pregnant or being a mom?” The answer was a resounding “being a mom.” That wasn’t the right support group for me so I found one that was a better fit.
What role did yoga have in your infertility treatments and your decision to adopt?
I had been practicing yoga on and off for a few years before dealing with infertility. After a few years of being in the infertility roller coaster ride, I got a fertility yoga book. Truthfully, at that point, I didn’t hold much hope that I would ever get pregnant. So the book, as well as so many other things like herbs and acupuncture, just left me feeling even more angry because none of it ever worked. The assumption with all of this is that it’s the woman who has the infertility issue, when in fact many men suffer from infertility, too. We fell in the unexplained infertility category, and nothing worked for either of us.
Many years later after becoming a parent I had one of the most incredible insights. I realized that my daughter and I had made a soul contract with each other before entering this life. She had life lessons she needed to learn in this lifetime, and I agreed to be her mom. So it really didn’t matter what my husband and I did. We were never going to get pregnant because the child I had agreed to raise would not be my biological child. This was a really profound insight for me and brought me a lot of peace. I finally understood why I had to deal with infertility and how that led me to my daughter.
Now that I’m a parent, I turn to yoga to help me slow down and remember to breathe.
As I mentioned, I had friends who were going through the same thing my husband and I were. One couple made the courageous decision to be child-free. Every time I thought about how I would feel if I made that decision for myself, I would start crying. That’s how I knew that at a soul level, I really wanted to be a mom.
There are a lot of reasons why I did not want to pursue a domestic adoption, and I knew without a doubt that pursuing an international adoption was the right decision for us. We lived in Denver at the time near an Asian district. Oftentimes when we went out to eat at restaurants, we saw Caucasian couples with girls from China. We found out that they had all adopted from Chinese Children Adoption International, or CCAI, and we went through them.
Although it was very painful giving up this dream of having a biological child where I could pass on my genes and seeing a little combo mini-me/mini-Kevin, having a child to love and share my life with has been truly rewarding. Although my daughter doesn’t share my biological traits, she has my sense of humor and similar interests as my husband and me.
What was the circumstance when you first felt wholly like Caitlin’s mom?
This question makes me think of a funny story. My husband and I had to travel to China to get our daughter. We were there for two weeks before returning home. When we got back, a friend asked me if when I first saw her it was love at first sight. I laughed and said, “No, my first thought was, ‘What a mess!'” She had a scab on her forehead, a runny nose, and small bruises on her face. By the end of the two weeks, the scab was gone, her nose had stopped running and the bruises had faded. Plus, we got to see her first step. That was love being displayed in full bloom!
Returning home, I felt incredibly insecure for the first year. Every time she was in her daddy’s arms, she kept literally pushing me away. That hurt a lot. I called a friend of mine several times who assured me that she loved and needed her mommy. Years later I found out that this behavior is very common in little girls. They just want to be their dad’s #1.
How do you and Kevin maintain your happy marriage?
I believe in being honest and communicating about everything- our day, our feelings, our insecurities, our passions. I also think it’s really important to make the other person laugh and to not take yourself too seriously. My husband and I have been teasing each other and laughing for almost twenty years. Now if anyone knows the secret to keeping the romance alive, please pass that along because I could sure use it!