NPR logo Blood Doesn't Equal Family; Love Does

Andrea Pike

Blood Doesn't Equal Family; Love Does

Andrea (right) with her son Benny and his birth mother Katie two summers ago. Courtesy of Andrea Pike hide caption

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Courtesy of Andrea Pike

Andrea (right) with her son Benny and his birth mother Katie two summers ago.

Courtesy of Andrea Pike

Last November, about two days before I was to start Lupron injections (another step in the in vitro fertilization process), I had butterflies in my stomach. You see, I was a kid who, when approached with a needle, had to be held down by a brigade of nurses so that said needle could do its job. I don't know if it was some horrible, past life experience, or my dramatic nature kicking in, but nothing could get my heart racing, stomach churning or lungs pumping like having to get a shot. So the fact that I was going to attempt to give myself a shot was really quite impressive.

The Pike boys at Easter. Courtesy of Andrea Pike hide caption

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Courtesy of Andrea Pike

To get my mind off of all things needly and sharp, I turned to "happy thoughts." After several "happy thoughts" of George Clooney and running naked through a field of cotton candy (you have your "happy thoughts" and I have mine), my mind turned to my boys. I started thinking about the first few days as their momma, how I'd be forever grateful to their birth mothers, their teeny, tiny little toes and fingers (the boys', not their birth moms') and how incredibly blessed and honored I am to get to be their mother.

It was then that I realized that it's absolutely no coincidence that National Adoption Month and Thanksgiving share the same month. I've always counted my blessings and try to keep a glow of gratitude in my heart, but in the month of November, it all doubles.

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When I got my Happy Fun Time Delivery (that's what I called the large box o' needles and drugs I got in the mail at the start of the IVF process ... just go with it), I sat the boys down and had a heart-to-heart with them. I wanted them to know that I am so lucky to have them as my sons, and that I am so grateful their birth moms chose Jeff and me to be their parents. I told them that we weren't doing IVF because we want a baby that looks like us or that shares our blood, or because we think we'd love a bio-kid more than we love them. I told them that Jeff and I wanted to experience pregnancy and that I wanted us to experience that as a family. I want the boys to go in and hear No. 3's heartbeat (this, of course, was before we knew there would be two squatters taking up residence in my belly), come with me to an ultrasound, feel my kicking belly and come visit us in the hospital when No. 3 arrives. I really tried to stress that we didn't care how we got to be parents again, because blood doesn't equal family — love does.

About Andrea

Andrea Pike, 31, from Union, Ky., gave birth to twin girls Natalie and Elizabeth on Aug. 3. She and her husband, Jeff, also have two young sons who were adopted.

After my Hallmark Channel speech, Benny asked if he could have a Popsicle and Andy asked if he could play outside. I'm not sure if anything I said to them stuck, but I tried. But since you are a rather captive audience, I have more to add.

See, the first time Jeff and I went through infertility treatments in 2003, the process killed me. It shattered my heart and annihilated my spirit. I felt like a ghost in my own life. But with the birth of my oldest son, I was reborn. When I first laid eyes on that pink, sleeping, 4-pound baby, my heart began to beat again. A mighty gale of love and life and gratitude blasted away the sorrow and despair that had taken up residence in my bones. Life was in color again, and I had this little human to thank for it.

Being in the delivery room when my second son was born was a dream come true. As a woman, I had always assumed that I would be present at the birth of my children. So when I learned that my reproductive system was experiencing "technical difficulties," I gave up on all hopes of ever hearing that beautiful, first cry of a newborn.

And then along came Katie. This brave girl gave me not only the gift of a beautiful, second son, but she gave me the opportunity of a lifetime and allowed me to be in the delivery room with her. When that little boy of mine took his first breath and sang his first cry, I felt that familiar blast of love and life and gratitude, and I cried right along with him.

So you see, our choice to take this journey through the IVF process isn't because we wanted a child with DNA similar to ours. Our choice involved several factors. We found a program that gave us four IVF tries for about $15,000 (a little more than $10,000 — less than what we paid in adoption fees for Andy's adoption). I wanted to see my husband's face light up when I told him that we're pregnant (and boy, did I screw that one up!). We wanted to study an ultrasound screen and figure out where the toes and fingers are. We wanted to see our sons press their cheeks to my belly and "listen" for the baby. I wanted to pee when I sneezed or laughed.

OK, so not really so much with that last one, but if it meant I got to do all that other stuff, I'd take it. To sum up, I'd like to say that Jeff and I are going to love our biological children just as much as if they were adopted.

Well, I am going to go into the boys' room right now and re-tuck arms and legs and butts under the covers. I'm also going to sit in the silence and count each one of my blessings, starting with my guys.

Then I'm totally going to bed and dream of George Clooney and running naked through a field of cotton candy.

Don't judge.

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