We are thankful for all of the wonderful people that The ART of Infertility has allowed us to cross paths with. Today, we have a guest post from CJ Carman, who we first met in July of 2015 at her home in Northern California. A memoir about CJ’s infertility, parenting after adoption, and how she and her family were transformed along the way was just released. She shares some of that story with us today. Thanks, CJ!
Before my husband and I got engaged, we had discussions about having children. At first, we thought we did not want children but after several years of marriage, decided we did, in fact, want children very much. So we set out to get pregnant and soon discovered that we were infertile. After many tests and discussions with our physician, we decided to try infertility procedures that proved both physically and emotionally painful and that would, alas, fail to get me pregnant. So much goes on when you are in this place. So many comments and unsolicited advice from people who mean well, but inadvertently added to the pain. Guilt was also a huge part of this package. But my husband and I pretended to make peace with the fact that we would never have children. And then, we were inspired to look into adoption.
Both of us are Caucasian, but being very open to any child who needed love, we adopted an African American baby. Adopting our daughter, Nicole, was literally the best thing that ever happened to us. It was also the start of a journey that inspired me to write Love, Hope, and Acceptance: A Family’s Transition. Besides the “normal” parenting challenges and the realities that come with raising a child of color, there were other opportunities to expand my way of thinking of this world in a positive way. Living in a very diverse area, through Nicole’s activities and relationships, I was exposed to many different cultures and family lifestyles. Nicole’s life opened many doors for me and I feel has made me a better person.
Part of Nicole’s journey was realizing that she was lesbian. At a very young age, Nicole was more attracted to females than males and also tended to identify more with stereotypical male behaviors and dress and was labeled a “stud” in her lesbian relationships. And while my husband and I were concerned for Nicole’s welfare, we were accepting of how she identified and expressed herself. Little did we know that her inner angst continued into high school. You see, Nicole felt deeply that she was not a female interested in other females, but actually a male interested in females. In other words, Nicole knew she identified as male while everyone still saw her as female. Nicole knew she was transgender and really wanted to make physical changes so his brain’s image of who he was matched his outer appearance. Thus began the transition from Nicole to Cole. But it was a transition for the whole family. One that has been mind blowing in that we experienced the power of Cole’s human spirit crying out for, and gaining control over, who he truly is.
Part of this journey included an extraordinary wish by Cole to retrieve and freeze his eggs before starting hormone therapy (at that time, he was one of the first female-to-male transgender persons in the country to undergo this procedure). Cole knew he wanted biological children someday. Once Testosterone therapy begins, it is extremely difficult, and sometimes impossible, to produce viable eggs. This was not a decision we all took lightly but one that ultimately led to the success of preserving a part of Cole that will become a living, conscious part of him. The process was both costly and physically painful but one well worth it.
Two-and-a-half years later, Cole is a thriving college student who is secure and happy. It is not lost on me the almost full circle gift that my husband and I lost, found through adoption, and now can give to Cole – a chance to be a parent. Now days, those in the LGBT+ community can entertain options once closed to them. I have no residual pain or regret about not being able to have a biological child. Though Cole did not come into this world from my body, he is, most definitely a part of me. My labor was different but just as mind blowing and wonderful. It gives me great joy that my husband and I were not only able to help Cole become and openly express his true self, but to help instill hope for his future as a parent. What greater gift could a parent possibly receive?