Not Yet


A few weeks ago I was scheduled to meet two boys who, if all went well, would become my sons. The boys are currently in foster care but are available for adoption.

I thought I was one short step away from creating my family.

My adoption agency which works with Child Protective Services started talking to me about the boys about 2 months ago. The Adoption Coordinator and the social worker in charge of their case told me only that they are brothers, 1 ½ and 2 ½ years old, full African American and healthy. That’s what they said. In four separate conversations, that’s what they said. Every time I asked a question, that’s all they said.

Two Fridays ago, I called the Foster Mother before Shabbat so I could arrange to meet them. She started the conversation by saying that in 10 years of fostering, these children are the most challenging kids she has ever cared for. Both have severe special needs: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Attachment Disorder. The boys have already been through two disrupted adoptions. In both cases, the perspective adoptive parents were not informed of children’s medical conditions until they were actually living in their homes and, in both cases, the parents relinquished the boys back into foster care.

The Foster Mother did not want to see this happen again so was brutally honest with me. By the time I hung up the phone I was stunned and angry and so sad – for the boys and for myself. I decided that their needs were completely beyond what I could provide. The following Monday, I turned down the referral and severed my relationship with the agency.

I do not know where I am going from here.

There are three options open to me:
1. Continue to pursue adoption. After two failed adoptions, one international and one domestic, I’m not sure I have the emotional wherewithal to attempt a third.
2. Artificial insemination, In-Vitro Fertilization, Donor Embryo. These are my biological options. I’ve reviewed the responsa (rabbinic decisions) for each option and believe they are all permissible, the logic being that these procedures can result in a new Jewish life and are therefore consistent with Jewish values.
3. Accept that I will be childless. Or child-free, as some would say. After almost two years of trying to make a family, I wonder when, for the sake of my emotional wellbeing, I just need to walk away. I’m not sure what such a life would even look like.  Who am I if I’m never a mother?

For now I will only say that I am not ready to give up. At least not yet.

4 thoughts on “Not Yet”

  • Who are you if you’re not a mother? Ketura, you’re a loving, nurturing woman, a practitioner of whatever your work and your hobbies are, a Jew, a friend — and I’d list more things if I knew you better. Being a full-time parent isn’t the be-all and end-all of life, and not being a mother doesn’t nullify all the fine things you are. I hope you’re able to become a mom, but if it doesn’t happen, I hope you’ll find ways to channel your nurturing spirit that bring you fulfillment and happiness.

    Kol tuv,

  • Obviously I don’t know your medical circumstances, but it took nearly a decade to have a child.  (One doctor said it would like getting blood from a rock.  Ha!  That baby will now be having a baby of his own within the next few weeks.)
    If you want to mother, than do whatever it takes to get there.  

  • I’m so sorry this didn’t work out for you.  I hope that, whatever choice you make for your future, that it leads you to joy.

  • I’m so sorry it didn’t work out for you, but you will remain in my prayers.  I hope G-d gives you wisdom to make the right decision and peace to comfort you in whatever that decision may be.  

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