Photo: Sue Barr

Once upon a time there was a woman who had an awesome life. She traveled the world and worked with fashion designers, dated male models and partied with rock stars but her heart was empty. She tried to fill the emptiness with lovers and designer clothes and exotic vacations but nothing worked.

That woman was me. I was in my early 30’s and it was the naughty 90’s. I was a fashion stylist. Styling big brand advertising, rock stars and fashion publications. No matter how successful I was my heart was empty. I was so blessed that my career took me to so many wonderful places and introduced me to all types of amazing people but I seemed to always be searching for that something or someone to fill my aching heart. I even changed careers to become a photographer thinking that being the creator would help the loneliness I felt within.

On location in the burbs of Miami, I met the most adorable 2-year-old and his mom. She shared her tale of becoming a single mother by choice. I knew right away that everything I was blessed with, needed to be shared with my own child.

This revelation was just the beginning of a long and painful journey. I signed up at a sperm bank and chose my child’s father from a stack of dossiers. I chose donor #6930, Ivy Leagued Russian scholar who I nicknamed Ivan. For over a year I monitored my cycle and did artificial insemination twice a month. After a year of failure and my biological clock passionately ticking away, I invested in a round of artificial insemination. That didn’t work and I was referred to a fertility specialist. It seemed like the ache in my heart was growing and could never be filled. It took months before I had my appointment with the specialist who told me my clock had stopped ticking. His solution was I should buy donor eggs.

I had an epiphany that pregnancy was not the only way to fulfill my desire to become a mother. I embraced the idea of adoption. I left his office with a bit of hope filling the emptiness in my heart. It had taken almost a decade since I had decided to become a mother and I was 43 years old but so much had changed in me and in society around me. Single motherhood for celebrities and everyday women was all the rage. 

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As the holidays were approaching again, that emptiness started creeping into my heart again, another mother with the most adorable daughter shared her journey. She handed me a business card printed with the name of an adoption lawyer and an 800 phone number. I made immediate contact. In a split second I decided the only thing that was important was I wanted a newborn with 10 fingers and toes. I didn’t care about race or sex or anything else.

My heart was filled with joy. I wrote a heartfelt dossier of pictures and words of why I wanted to be a mom addressed to an unknown woman somewhere in the country who would read it and chose me to her baby’s mommy. Somehow this all seemed manageable and easier than anything else I had tried but to guard myself from another devastating blow of defeat I gave myself a deadline. This would happen within the year or I would move on. My heart just could not fill up again and empty out without becoming permanently broken.

Unfortunately there was even more heartache to come. My family was not supportive. Three birth mothers chose me and backed out at the last minute. The agony of loss was more excruciating but I was still filled with hope.

I photographed families as I ached for my own. On one very cold gray, December day a few weeks before my birthday deadline the phone rang and on the other end was literally an angel. A young woman who had a baby in her tummy but no room in her heart for the little soul would be arriving within weeks. It seemed that she thought I would an awesome mommy to the baby in her tummy. One heart would be healed and the other would be filled with smiles and roller coasters and blue ices and the mummy rides at St Leos fair. A win, win situation.

I filled my home with all that would make my baby giggle and grow in this wonderful world. Friends and clients brought cribs and bottles and bibs, high chairs and playpens, swings and stuffed animals, blankets and lovey’s and so many things that my home was filled just like my heart. My birthday passed again and the holidays were looming.  The angel lady with the baby in her tummy stopped calling. I just couldn’t believe another birth mom had changed her mind. I heart was literally hemorrhaging hope. 

The sun was rising on Christmas morning and the phone rang at 6:45 a.m. It was the angel lady wishing me the Merriest Christmas. Well she didn’t actually wish me a Merry Christmas , she told me she was on the way to the hospital and I should come as soon as I could to meet my baby.

I arrived in the hospital—10 states away, when the sun was gently setting behind the mountains, walked down the longest corridor. Every step was filled with future boo-boos and band-aids and kisses and pool splashes and homework and Saturday morning cartoons and pajama days and movie nights. As I walked down that hall I knew I was walking into the beginning of my happy story.

Our life as a family started. It was filled with good things and hard things and funny things and even some sad things but mostly so much more then I could have ever dreamt of. Two moms—a birth mom and an adoptive mom—together healed each other’s hearts and a tiny little soul has grown to become a shining star. 

 

 

This post originally appeared on medium and tumblr.