Note: Portions of this article have been excerpted from my prior story, “But I Had Always Wanted to Be a Dad.”
Looking back, I’ve come to believe the right results happened in our case. The comment is no rationalization; it’s honest.
Life is funny that way.
We tried to conceive, my wife and I. We were unsuccessful. We tried to adopt. Ditto.
The results in both instances were devastating, and yet we never considered leaving one another.
I want to promise you something: The words that follow are uplifting, to show you that life goes on and unexpected opportunities abound within life’s twists and turns.
This is not a depressing post. At the very least, it’s not meant as such.
My wife and I would have loved to have children, as planned. All these years later, however, we’ve realized that we’re making a difference in the lives of others by being exactly who we are.
In my wife’s case, it’s using her substantial life experience to advise others. “You’re the CEO of your life,” she’ll say when casually speaking to people. Those simple words, for example, followed by a few more, touched a friend who went on to attain a degree in Finance and now works a full-time job.
That’s particularly meaningful when you consider our friend was unemployed for two years after working a telemarketing gig.
For me, I use my words. There’s a reason I’m addicted to writing, everything from novels to screenplays to articles: I write to challenge perspectives and provoke conversation in the interests of improving our collective lot.
I’m hifalutin that way. And more than a bit compulsive.
“You can’t always get what you want.” — The Rolling Stones
I may as well go personal.
The article linked above in part details our struggles in having a biological child of our own. My wife and I strongly believe in adoption, but our experience in that realm was also difficult.
We were older and the fertility treatments did not work out; subsequently, the birth mothers of most of our adoption prospects were looking for younger couples. But we kept moving forward.
My wife and I met when I was 36 and she was 43. I remember well our first real conversation. As in, our first heart to heart, which occurred three weeks after our first date and it was obvious the attraction was there.
“We need to talk,” she said.
I was taking groceries out of the car. There were no signs of anything off-kilter.
“You okay?” I asked. “Is something wrong?”
She paused. “You’re too polite. You haven’t asked me my age yet.”
I put the bags on the car. “Okay. You’re right. You need to talk.”
“You? What about we?
“I don’t care how old you are.”
“That’s it?” she asked.
“That’s it,” I said.
Here’s the reality: She warned me and I was wholly aware she was older. But it takes two to tango.
This combination, not the shortcoming of one or the other, could not conceive.
After two rounds of unsuccessful fertility treatments, we decided to adopt.
Eventually, my wife and I were approved to be parents. We drove from Los Angeles to Utah to meet an expectant husband and wife. We signed the requisite initial paperwork, and we believed all was well. When we returned to Los Angeles, we waited to hear from our adoption attorney that the rest of the paperwork was ready for our countersignature.
We had not heard back from him, so we called. The attorney had been trying to reach the couple himself, to no avail. We discovered, nearly a year later, what had happened.
Unbeknownst to any of us, the husband made a deal with his father, a wealthy man who was part-owner of one of Los Angeles’ top talent agencies. The father promised his son a substantial monthly payment if they put the child up for adoption. The father believed that the couple were not yet equipped to financially handle the responsibility.
The husband, though, did not want to give up the baby. The wife did. The husband orchestrated a plan to accept his father’s money, for the six months prior to the new child being born. Once the baby was born, the husband would say something to his father about the opportunity “not working out.”
How did our attorney find this out? The father called him, asking if he had heard from his son. The father explained the situation, and we were called by the attorney. The next week, we received a followup call. The husband reached his father, and told him his wife was leaving him. He said he needed help, as his wife threatened to fight him for custody of their newborn child.
That was the end of it. We heard nothing since.
Not only did we have to accept that difficult fact on the heels of ending our fertility treatments, but more importantly the woman I loved was heartbroken. The woman who knew from the beginning how much fatherhood had meant to me, who had reluctantly warned me about her age during an early heart-to-heart — while letting me know she was fully aligned with my goals and had only waited until she met the “right guy” — suddenly needed me in a whole other way.
And for that reason I was the luckiest man alive.
10 Steps To “Catch” Life’s Greatest Curveballs
As you read this, think about what you have not been able to accomplish, for whatever reason, in your own life.
Things that everyone else seems to take for granted.
Then let me know if these 10 points make sense to you:
- Never lose sight of your other goals.
- Proceed as though your pain is only temporary. After awhile, you will discover that life resumes much as it marched on before. An example: I lost my dad, my best friend, nearly a decade ago. I was frozen for awhile … and though I think about him every day and I still cry when I need to, I’ve been able to move on with my life when I once thought that would be impossible.
- Change your routine. I’ve said this before in other articles about life events. Take a vacation. Take a weekend. Begin an exercise routine. Move. Take “me” time and do what you must to refresh. Returning with a new attitude is a typical result. After our adoption debacle, my wife and I went to New York for a week to get away from it all.
- Practice Mindfulness. Meditate. Read a self-help book that relates to your circumstance. Spend some time thinking, and move on from there.
- Create a back-up plan. Here’s an example: A friend was in a car accident and having surgery on his spine. If the surgery was a success, my friend would be able to walk as before. If not, he would likely be confined to a wheelchair. Today, from his wheelchair, he coaches adaptive basketball. The surgery did not take, and my friend did not give up. Life has gone on because he accepted both possibilities.
- Speak openly to others. You may be surprised by how many will relate to you, and the valuable advice you may receive.
- Don’t give up. What’s the point? Seriously, answer that.
- Consider what good you can do for others. Again, you may be surprised at how many people will listen to you if you honestly converse with them and offer the gift of your experience.
- Reinvent yourself. My wife moved out to Los Angeles from Detroit in the mid-80s. She moved to the west coast to become a TV producer, but bills beckoned and she became a pharmaceutical sales rep. Several years ago, the company she was working for closed. After a few years of, as she says, “professionally finding” herself, she finally became a producer with her first show presently airing on Amazon Prime — “Then Again with Herbie J Pilato.” (Cheap plug entirely deliberate.)
- Try again. Your goal may not work out on second try — or it may — but if you have nothing to lose why don’t you give yourself (at least) one more shot? We’re on this planet for a brief time, and the older we get the quicker that time seems to pass. Why not try again?
Beware of regrets. You can overcome.
That’s today’s message, folks.
Thank you for reading.
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