When Amy Nadine speaks about her two children, her voice warms, and it's as if I can hear the broad smile that softens her face, even though we're talking over the phone. It's the unmistakable love of a mother—a warmth and a sense of gratitude that seems out of step with the story that follows.
Nadine's path to motherhood has been anything but easy. When she and her husband, JP, decided to start a family together after getting married at 35 and 45, they couldn't have known the path it would take them on. After struggling to fall pregnant naturally, embarking on seven rounds of IUI (intrauterine insemination), six rounds of (in vitro fertilization), and being shaken by the grief of back-to-back miscarriages, the pair realized that families are built in many ways, and theirs would (hopefully) be made through adoption—a decision that led them to their two sons, Jones, now 21 months old, and Iverson, 11 months.
"Now I know that everything happens exactly the way it's meant to," she says with a sense of calm that seems uncharacteristic for a mom with two kids under the age of two. "The humbling part of infertility is that so much is beyond your control. But you're capable of so much more than you think if you persevere. If you don't quit, you'll eventually become a mom."
Here, she shares her incredible path to motherhood and explains how infertility became one of the greatest gifts, as told to Sophie Miura.
When my husband and I got married in 2010, we were ready to start a family straight away. During the first year, we tried to have a baby naturally, but it just didn't happen. I tried to relax. We and then later many rounds of IUI, but after three years of negative pregnancy tests, we were deflated. It's so frustrating and difficult—I remember fretting at work and dinner parties because you know people will ask if you're pregnant and you have to put on a brave face.
Then, we turned to IVF, and I finally got pregnant—twice! It was a period of such highs, followed by shattering lows. Nine weeks into the first pregnancy they discovered there was no heartbeat. I couldn't believe that all of a sudden, my baby was gone. I had a D&C (a surgical procedure to remove the baby after miscarriage), and after testing, they discovered the embryo had an extra chromosome.
We were devastated again during my second pregnancy, when, at 16 weeks, the doctor told us the baby's stomach and kidneys didn't grow, and her legs were "mermaid"—a rare congenital deformity where the legs are fused together. They told me that if she made it through the pregnancy, the baby would die within hours after giving birth. I was already attached to this little soul growing in my belly, and at the time, it was impossible to comprehend terminating the pregnancy, but we had no choice. In these dark moments, you find a strength you didn't know you had. You make it through and take that with you for the rest of your life.
It's a big part of the reason my husband and I are so close. We went through this really difficult period of our lives together and it made us so much stronger. Now, I can't imagine what it'd be like if we got pregnant naturally in those first few months of trying. When I talk to other moms thinking about IVF or adoption, I tell them you have to trust that your baby is out there. Believe it or not, when you have your baby in your arms, you'll think, thank god I had those miscarriages because it led me here. This is my baby.
By the time we started talking about adoption, I was so ready. I'd done six rounds of IVF and had two miscarriages. I was so tired. I felt like I'd donated my body to modern science, and I just wanted to be a mom.
Our first adoption "orientation" day consisted of eight hours of presentations, stories, and FAQs. My husband and I instantly stood out—we were older than everyone and randomly that day, we were the only straight parents in the room. I later learned that this would put us at a disadvantage. Many birth moms who work with adoption agencies are very young and saw us as geriatric because we were older than their parents (for the record, I was 40! I know, it's not "old"). Interestingly, we also learned that same-sex male parents are often preferred, too, perhaps because they provide a paternal presence without imposing on the birth mother.
Initially, my type A personality was like, "Let's do this; let's try every avenue," but I learned that you can't control this process. I thought, "I'm a smart woman and an entrepreneur. I can figure this out." But the universe doesn't work that way. You've got to surrender. One of the most powerful lessons from our experience is learning to let go.
The adoption process can take years from signing with an agency to the moment you meet your baby, so we were eager to get started. My husband and I went to four different adoption attorneys in L.A., but we didn't have a good feeling about any of them and kept looking out of state while we completed our home study.
Not long after, we got a call from one of the attorneys. He said, "I know you didn't sign with us, but I have a birth in a few months—would you be open to finding out more?" It felt weird and almost too quick, but you just think, okay, this must be the way it works. I ignored my husband's gut instincts, and we forged ahead. We met the birth mom, gave the attorney $20,000 up front—a standard fee to initiate the process—and talked with her almost every day, flying her out to L.A. to meet with us. Then, a month and a half into it, she dumped us. An attorney from another state called and told me she decided to go with another couple. I felt sick and wanted to fight for the baby I thought was finally ours, but we knew it was over. It tipped me into a worse depression than the miscarriages—I had let myself get excited again, and I couldn't have foreseen how difficult that moment would be. But JP, who had become my rock, pulled me through it.
These experiences have changed the way I view the world. I learned from miscarriages and a failed adoption that you have to let go of things that don't belong to you. You can't cling to an idea of a life that never happened. I even apply that now to jobs I've been up for and haven't gotten. I think, if they're mine, they'll happen. That's the beautiful gift this path to motherhood has taught me. I now have faith that everything happens as it should and ride the wave with gratitude.
After a very long year of no one picking our profile again, I got the call that changed everything. "I have a colleague in Fort Lauderdale with a mom who is due in two weeks," our new attorney told me. It took every ounce of strength to stay calm and composed, but my husband and I trusted that if this baby was ours, it would all work out. We didn't have a nursery ready, we were still paying off the last two rounds of IVF, but we found the means (huge thanks to my sister and brother-in-law for the quick loan!) and rushed through all the paperwork with our social worker and a notary.
Four days later, we got the call that she gave birth, and I jumped on a plane to Florida immediately, hopeful that he was ours but unsure what the next few days held. In the state of Florida, you have to wait 48 hours to find out if the birth mom still wants to go ahead with the adoption. But as excruciating as it was, I actually loved that special time getting to know the birth mother and instantly adoring her and her other children. I got to hold the little darling but remembered to be super respectful of her comfort level and boundaries, so I was guarded with my heart and didn't let myself get attached. Finally, on the last day, our social worker called, and I drove to the hospital where the birth mom had just signed the paperwork, and I got to express my eternal gratitude to her and pledge a lifetime of dedication to the baby she entrusted me with. It's surreal to think of all the gifts I've been given in my life, the biggest was from a stranger who will forever be my hero.
I'll never forget the moment I walked into the nursery and finally got to hold him as my son, Jones. I completely lost it. I've never had a biological child but in my mind, it has to be the same. I wanted to love and protect him fiercely. It's the most incredible feeling.
There are a lot of misconceptions about adoption, but one of the biggest is that you can't have the same bond with an adopted child as you would with your biological baby. If that's what you think, you're in for a big surprise. The love I feel for my babies is unreal. I tell them they didn't grow in my belly, they grew in my heart. It's like we've chosen each other.
Just 10 months later, we were blessed to adopt our second son, Iverson, into our family. They share a nursery and have such wildly different personalities; Jones is bold yet sensitive, and Iverson is a jolly old soul who is obsessed with his big brother. This September, we moved our family to New Mexico, down the road from my sister and her 5-year-old son, Miller, and 8-month-old adopted son, Moses, who form another part of our big, beautiful, modern family.
Looking back, I understand that everything happens exactly as it's meant to. All the self-pity and sadness you once felt is forgotten and replaced by a humbling sense of joy. My husband and I tag-team everything when it comes to raising our boys—I'm even jealous when I miss a diaper change! We fought so hard for our family. I want to be there for it all, no matter how small or stinky!
Now, I find that I live in such a constant state of gratitude. It's amazing how my perspective has shifted since we started trying to get pregnant. Every time I open their nursery door, I stop for a second. It's as if I can feel the emotion in my chest pulling on my heart. For that second, I pause and say a silent thank-you that this is my life, and I get to do this every day.