This story starts where many adoption stories begin, with infertility. For Diana, who works from home as an accountant in suburban Illinois, the concept dawned on her slowly. No one told her she'd never conceive -- it just didn't happen. She and her husband, Jim, had some tests done which supplied no clear answers. Fertility drugs, such as Clomid, didn't work.
They knew they could try artificial insemination or adoption. Neither seemed right. "We had friends who went through expensive, emotional fertility treatments and still had no luck. Adoption felt almost as risky; it seemed like everyone was going overseas and taking weeks off from work. We couldn't afford to do that since Jim runs his own shop," Diana says. "As for a U.S. adoption, everyone said we'd wait forever for a baby."
The popularity of open adoption was also a concern. Jim and his brother had been adopted as babies and enjoyed a happy childhood. That was during the 1960s when adoptive parents didn't communicate with a birth mother, and the arrangement suited Jim fine. He was skeptical about having things any other way.
Diana, too, was nervous: "The few agencies I looked into seemed to focus on the birth mom's feelings. Don't get me wrong -- placing a baby up for adoption is one of the most courageous and selfless things a person can do. But adoptive parents are going through a lot, too. Jim and I were feeling a sense of loss at not being able to have children of our own." For a long time, in fact, "I was worried that, if we adopted, I'd feel like a substitute mom," Diana admits.
This is a typical initial fear, says Jane Page, supervisor of adoptive services at The Cradle, a not-for-profit adoption center in Evanston, Illinois. According to Page, it's a signal that the couple is still grieving over not being able to conceive. "Often couples have to come to some acceptance before getting excited about adoption. But then when a baby is finally placed with them, they see that baby as their first choice."