This guest post is by Elizabeth Carellas of A Family of My Own Fertility & Adoption Conference.
When my husband, Peter, and I married in 1983, we always knew children were going to be part of our future. However, by the early-1990s we discovered that becoming pregnant was not going to be part of our life plan at that time, yet we still longed to be parents.
After very few conversations we chose to look into adoption, preferably being able to bring a child home that shared our family heritage.
Eventually, I discovered that Greece has an international adoption program but it was only for special needs children. This did not hinder our interest. We felt that every child deserves a home and parents of their own. So we pursued.
In 1996, our adoption agency called with a referral for a little boy who was born with a rare, congenital eye condition. He would require care that was not readily available in Greece. When we received Stephanos’ referral and picture, Peter and I agreed, to us, he was the most handsome baby in the world. We wanted to be his parents.
The adoption of our boys
At that very moment our lives were forever changed. We loved Stephanos immediately and were going to do everything possible to take care of him.
Stephanos’ adoption process was very difficult and tried our emotions. We were told by many people to let it go, but we knew we could offer the love and medical care he needed. He now wears an eye prosthetic and has undergone two surgeries and is still the most handsome boy.
We moved from the Washington, DC area to Florida in 1999, and felt it was a good time in our lives to bring another child into our family and shared the feelings with a trusted family friend. That summer, while in Greece, she called to tell us about a little boy, named Valentinos, born with a very complex heart defect. In addition, his heart and several of his major organs are reversed.
I contacted many physicians that encouraged us to not consider this adoption. They said this little boy had too many complications and we would be taking on a very difficult care situation. Again, we felt that Valentinos needed us and we needed to take care of him.
In Greece, Valentinos was much loved but needed such sophisticated medical care that would be readily available when he has events. We met with the dedicated and nurturing women that took the greatest care of Valentinos, and they agreed to allow us to adopt. He has improved, thrived, and had become a very energetic little boy.
With our boys doing well and in school, I thought again about becoming pregnant. After all, fertility technology offered new possibilities. I was in my early 40s and felt very healthy. However, I discovered that when I called more than several fertility offices, I was rather candidly turned down because I was over 42.
Pregnancy with a baby girl
When I did have a consultation it was explained that due to our issues that a pregnancy would never happen. Once again, we were told, don’t do it, you will only face more disappointment. Without giving up, I was grateful when I did find our fertility doctor and we had a very honest discussion of our treatment options and outcomes.
I did well at all my checkups and was asked numerous times about doing an amniocentisis, but declined. If this baby stayed in my tummy the pregnancy was meant to be. We felt after going through so much to bring children into our lives, we truly felt the power of the proverb that God would only give us what we could handle.
At 32 weeks I had preterm labor, spent 24 hours in the hospital until it subsided. In May 2003, we had our little Helena. She is healthy and a complete joy. All of our children are doing well.
Some people who hear a small part of our family story may think our feelings may have changed with the addition of our “belly baby” and they are correct. We love our children even more if that was possible for us to imagine. Each one has been such a gift.
When I look at my sweet boys and know how very different their lives could have been — both born with rare medical conditions and without access to needed care — I know we needed them as much as they needed us. And with the joy of being able to carry the gift of pregnancy with a baby girl – we know, at our very core, we love and adore our children even more than we could have ever imagined.
Elizabeth Carellas is an adoptive mother and the founder and director of A Family of My Own Fertility & Adoption Conference, a nationally produced educational program around the country that brings together top professionals in the field of medical treatment, wellness and adoption in one room for one day.
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