In-Depth with Becky Fawcett
Mothers come in all shapes and sizes. All ages, backgrounds, ethnicities and sexual orientations. Biological, adoptive, foster, caretaker, friend… There’s no one way to be a mother. Becky Fawcett is excellent proof of that. After a long, painful journey with infertility, she decided to adopt. But she didn’t stop there. Disheartened by the inequality of the adoptive process, she decided to do something about it. Below the mother of two (Jake, 11, and Brooke, 7) and founder of Help Us Adopt. org shares her story with us.
Nat: Did you always want to be a mom?
Becky: Always and forever.
Nat: Did you think it would come easy to you?
Becky: I never expected having children to be difficult. And when it was difficult and challenging it totally caught me off guard.
Nat: Tell me about your infertility struggles.
Becky: I don’t wish infertility on anyone. The shots, the stress, the financial hurdles, the disappointment when IVF doesn’t work and then the devastation when IVF works but then you miscarry. It was brutal.
Nat: How emotionally challenging was it?
Becky: Let’s just say, there were days I didn’t know when I would ever see the light at the end of the tunnel. Infertility is the kind of thing that, unless you’ve experienced it, you can’t even imagine the toll it takes. I didn’t expect it to be so emotionally challenging. I expected it to be a pain in the neck, an inconvenience, painful but I didn’t expect that I would ever end up in such a dark place while trying to become a mom. I lost friends during the process. I even had family members tell me that I was an awful person for being so self-centered and baby focused during the struggle, which for me was three years long. I will never forget any piece of my struggle.
Nat: You’re so open about it. Were you always? Why is that important to you?
Becky: I was not always so open about it. When people found out I was going through IVF, it was as if they felt sorry for me. And once I started having miscarriages, I was amazed at how many friends would say NOTHING because it was so uncomfortable. It was then that I started to talk about it, quietly at first and then slowly, I gained confidence about this new topic in my life and my voice took flight. I didn’t want to be alone going through this and knew I wasn’t alone. I just had to find my tribe.
Nat: When did you decide to adopt?
Becky: My husband and I decided before our last IVF cycle that if it was unsuccessful we were going to adopt. It was time to become parents. I became pregnant with that last cycle but then had a miscarriage on Christmas Eve 2004. We started meeting with adoption attorneys the first week in January 2005.
Nat: Tell me about that process.
Becky: For me it was a scary process but a necessary one to become a mom. I just put my blinders on and took it step by step. I may have held my breath for ten months. My second adoption was even harder and more expensive than the first. When people ask me about the process, I don’t want to scare anyone off but I always want to be honest and upfront about the challenges (financial and otherwise) the process presents.
Nat: Which led you to Help Us Adopt. Tell me about your organization.
Becky: After I adopted my son Jake in 2005 (I adopted my daughter in 2009), I wanted to donate my PR services to an adoption grant program that was helping people overcome the financial challenges adoption presents. Sadly, I could only find a few organizations that were doing this and they were all religiously based, weren’t inclusive in their views of what a family is, and dictated “how” families had to adopt. I couldn’t find what I truly believed should exist so I built it. Helpusadopt.org is a national, equality based adoption grant program that doesn’t define family, religion or adoption, doesn’t charge an application fee and awards large, impactful, problem solving grants that help families complete the costs of their adoptions and bring their children home.
Nat: How challenging was it to start that?
Becky: I am a pretty determined person…I like a good challenge and I’m also not afraid of failure. I knew in my heart that Helpusadopt.org was a great idea and would help many people within the adoption community who weren’t being helped. What I didn’t know how to do was raise money but I knew how to build the framework and the brand and I had a strong story to tell. So that’s what I did; I told my story and I told other people’s stories and talked about the children who needed these loving and permanent homes. I put myself out there. The rest is history.
Nat: Did you ever receive judgement or backlash about adoption?
Becky: Sadly, yes. Just recently someone said that I shouldn’t put my kids out in the public so much as faces of adoption. I asked why they thought that. They answered, “What if someone Googles them when they go to college and finds out they are adopted?” My answer: Google away.
Nat: Are people insensitive to adoptive mothers? Children?
Becky: Sometimes. Once a friend told me: “Don’t worry, I still think you are a real mom even though you didn’t give birth.” I work really hard to talk about adoption and dispel the myths because I am strong enough to take the negative comments but others might not be as strong. And the kids? No kid should have to hear anything negative about who they are and how they came into this world, not on my watch.
Nat: Do you think there’s still a stigma to adoption?
Becky: Yes, I wish that I could say there isn’t one. It’s so much better than it used to be but there’s still a stigma.
Nat: Do you find that it’s getting better/easier/more common?
Becky: Yes, it’s getting more common. Sadly it’s always been common but no one talked about it. But there is still the occasional negative comment I get and it’s usually from someone I know.
Nat: What do you tell your children about adoption?
Becky: Everything. From the minute they were in my arms, I told them they were adopted. It’s never been a secret. I am very open and honest with them about how our family was built and how they came into this world. When they ask questions, no matter what I am doing, I stop and answer as best I can—and they know that they can ask me anything. And when I don’t know the exact answers, I tell them that too. I have raised my kids to be proud of who they are, proud of who we are as a family and they embrace their stories.
Nat: Can you imagine your life without it?
Becky: I can’t even for a minute imagine my life without adoption or my kids. Adoption has changed my life for the better in ways I never thought possible and without it I would most likely be childless which is a thought too hard to bear. There are days I really have to remind myself that these kids didn’t come from my body. And we talk about that “perfect fit” as a family too. I am so grateful to their birthmother’s every day of my life for finding us and for choosing us to parent their children—and so grateful their birthmothers are still in our lives.
Nat: What do you hope others learn from your story?
Becky: Even if you don’t have all of the exact pieces to get going but you believe in your heart you’ve got a great idea that will make a difference in the lives of others, ignore the naysayers, embrace the risk of failure and do it. Too many people wait until the “perfect” moment to start something. There are no perfect moments in life. Just jump in.
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