Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

When Choice is Not an Option May 4, 2010

Last night I performed at a spoken word show here in Santa Monica. I got up in front of about 100 total strangers and told the story of how my husband, Jose, and I came to make the decision to give up on having children, and be a happy family of two. As I’m sure you can imagine, it was a very intimate story and I think I told it frankly, maybe even matter-of-factly, but I aired our dirty laundry all the same.

My husband was in the  audience and, as he’d never heard or read the story before, I was a little worried about his reaction, but he was 100% supportive. After the show, a number of people came up to me and thanked me for sharing my story. A couple of women told me how they had related to the story because of their own experiences. It was very touching and encouraging to know that I had reached people.

But more than one person came up to me during the post-show reception and asked the inevitable question, some version of: “So are you guys still thinking of adopting?” I want you to know that I was the model of composure. I answered calmly and politely, that no, we weren’t, and that we were lucky to have the kind of relationship that many people never have, and that was enough for us.

But I guess some people just can’t take, “No,” for an answer. People want a Hollywood ending to their stories,  and for many, the idea of choosing not to have children is, dare I say it, inconceivable.

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3 Responses to “When Choice is Not an Option”

  1. Therese Says:

    Sometimes people reach a point where they don’t want to “try” anymore. With a relationship, having a baby or whatever. It’s alright to stop torturing your self trying when the process is so demanding and painful. Who wants to live like that? My sister made the same decision with her marriage and you have made the same decision with children. Why can’t others just let well enough alone and accept the fact that YOU have decided to stop “trying” for children, adoptive or other wise?

    By the way, why do people always talk about adoption like it’s so simple. It takes forever and it is prohibitively expensive for most people! I’m proud of you–my childlessness is by choice (never wanted them, never tried for them)–I don’t know if I could have been as gracious as you.

  2. Jennifer Gill Says:

    LOL – inconceivable! Good for you for remaining composed – I might have been tempted to merit another Princess Bride quote: “My way not very sportsmanlike.” And I’m with Therese, above, about the flip recommendation of adoption. I am sure I’d never qualify (too many cats, not enough finances) even though I’d “be a great mom.” I bet adoptive parents aren’t the ones making those comments in general, because they actually know what they’re talking about…

  3. lmanterfield Says:

    Thanks Therese. You nailed it. That quest for motherhood is absolutely all-consuming and sometimes you just have to reclaim your life and say, “Enough!” I also realize that many people never get to that point, but I’m not sure at what financial and emotional cost that comes.

    Jennifer, you’re luring me into a Princess Bride quoting match, I can tell, but I’m not going to bite.

    In one of the baby/adoption conversations that were swirling all around me last night, I heard, “My son and his wife are planning to adopt. I hope they do it from Ethopia. It’s easier and cheaper there.” Ah yes, Walmart for babies. I have this image of going down the store aisle and popping babies into a cart. “I think I’ll have one of these, and one of these, oh and don’t forget to pick up tootpaste; we’re almost out.” The reality of going through an adoption ANYWHERE is that it’s torturous and heartbreaking. Worth it, for the majority of people, I’m sure, but certainly no picnic.


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