My husband, Gary, and I started trying to have a baby in September 2006. I stopped taking the Pill, but I never got a period. The doctor said that it could take time for my body to adjust, but when I hadn't gotten my period after several months, I knew something was wrong.
I started taking hormones to induce my period, but it didn't work. I saw specialists; I had every test imaginable; I was poked and prodded. In December, I was diagnosed with premature ovarian failure, and we were told we'd be unable to conceive on our own. It was as if a rug had been pulled out from under me. My whole life I'd wanted to be a mom. It had never occurred to me that Gary and I wouldn't be able to have kids.
We had options, though. I couldn't conceive a baby, but I could carry one, so IVF [in vitro fertilization] using a donor egg was a possibility. We could also adopt. Both options are expensive, so Gary and I took a few years to save money, weigh our choices, and relish our time as a couple. In the end, we decided to adopt. It doesn't take genetics to make a family. Instead, the crucial ingredients are love, support, and encouragement.
Signing up with an adoption agency is an intense process. A social worker came to our home, Gary and I were fingerprinted, and we submitted endless forms, which took a few months. Writing our profile was the hardest part: We each essentially divulged our life story in the hopes that someone would choose us to parent their child. We had faith that a mom-to-be would pick us, but we didn't know when: The agency told us it could be three to nine months.
To our surprise, only two months after we finished the paperwork, we got a call that we had been selected as the adoptive parents for a baby girl! Over the next few weeks, I shopped for our daughter's layette and readied her nursery. As soon as she was born, we packed up, got in the car, and drove to Kansas City. We met her the next morning and spent the night with her in the hospital as her caregivers; we bonded with her deeply.
Two days after the baby was born, an hour before we were to appear in court to sign the relinquishment document, the adoption specialist called to tell us that the birth mother had decided to raise the child herself. It came as a complete shock to everyone involved. We prayed the mom would reconsider once she realized how hard it is to take care of a newborn, but she didn't. We mourned as though we'd lost our own child, but Gary and I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. That is what got us through.
A little over a month later, we learned that we'd again been chosen to be adoptive parents. We were terrified this mom would change her mind, too, but we began making arrangements to fly to Los Angeles, cautiously optimistic that this time it would all work out. When we met Ashton, we had been awake for 24 hours, traveling for nearly as long, and we were exhausted. In that moment, though, all we felt was relief. We knew that nothing was certain until we signed the relinquishment papers, but we also knew that we had to enjoy and embrace every moment with him. And the adoption went through!
In spite of all the waiting and disappointment, it feels as if I gave birth to Ashton myself. Gary and I have the most loving, natural bond with him. We're so happy. We can't picture our life any other way.
In the photo: Angie Simon, 30, with Gary, 29, and Ashton, 11 months, in St. Peters, Missouri