“¿Por qué tus ojos son azules?” the young girl asked. She looked up at me, squinting through the ray of sun sneaking away from the clouds above us on a mountain, somewhere deep in the slums of Bogota, Colombia.
“Did she ask why my eyes were blue?” I confirmed to my fluent friend beside me. She nodded and I matched her affectionate grin as I took her hands and tried, in broken Spanish, to explain it was a gift given to me from my parents.
My eyes are among the many aspects I’m thankful for, along with a loving family. A happy, comfortable upbringing. An education that provided the foundation to pursue my lifelong, hungry passion for journalism. And the privilege of knowing exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up—a writer, but also a wife and, more than anything, a mother.
I grew up playing with baby dolls, dressing them and cradling them, and much to my mother’s humor, disciplining them, too. As I collected birthday candles, I eventually babysat to earn extra money. Once I joined the workforce, I was always first to volunteer to organize “Bring Your Kid to Work Day,” or ask to hold the latest newborn brought into the office for their meet-and-greet. There’s never been a moment when I’ve doubted I would make a wonderful mom, but there have been many times I’ve wondered if I’d ever get the chance.
Before that pivotal moment in South America, I spent seven years in New York City. Or more to the point: dating in Manhattan. It isn’t an easy endeavor to find a once-in-a-lifetime person in a city that’s categorized by sleeping around and toxic bachelorhood. Nor is it usually a priority for the overzealous, highly motivated professionals who seek climbing to the top over waltzing down an aisle.
As I inched closer to my 28th birthday two years ago, I looked into freezing my eggs as a physical — and, frankly, emotional — security measure. After all, as 30 looms closer, the more pressure women receive (from our grandmothers and doctors alike) to consider their fertile future. It’s an ingrained fear that’s heavy and difficult, and it’s scary enough to take the breath out of someone who desperately wants to be a mom. The estimate from the clinic I visited started at $5,000, and I decided to hold on the entire process.
Instead, I spent that money on something else entirely: my wanderlust.
Which is how I made my way from the Big Apple to Colombia.
I realized my love for children isn’t limited to what I can biologically produce.
I quit my full-time gig at a trendy fitness startup to try my chops at freelancing full time and joined Remote Year, a program that allows location-independent professionals the opportunity travel the world for a year, working remotely from up to 12 countries. Over 365 equally exhausting and exhilarating days, I called Croatia, Portugal, Thailand and seven other countries home. To say the experience was transformative is an understatement, but in addition to giving me a stronger backbone, a courageous attitude and an open mind, it shifted my views about becoming a mother.
As I moved every month, learning about various cultures and histories, I inevitably met children from all walks of life — from obedient, impeccably dressed school children who strolled in unison through the streets of Kyoto, Japan, to rambunctious, enthusiastic bilingual Argentinians who filled the corner of my neighborhood with laughter — I realized my love for children isn’t limited to what I can biologically produce.
It’s only contained by the capacity of my heart.
It didn’t matter if it was a Thai child attempting to string together sentences to tell me about her jewelry collection or a crying Portuguese baby who stopped wailing when I made a face at her in a coffee shop — there was no need to be DNA-related to feel bonded.
Even so, it wasn’t until month 11 of my journey when the inquisitive child inquired about my eyes that it clicked for me.
I don’t want to freeze my eggs. If I can’t have children by the time I find a partner and we build a life together, I would much rather spend the money to adopt.
Everyone has different ways of defining a family, and I fully support women who decide to invest in egg preservation. It is a personal choice and one that should never be taken lightly, but for me, I’ve been persuaded toward adoption because of the great need I witnessed firsthand abroad.
As I dug holes and hammered nails through a charity project my Remote Year traveling group created called Yugen Build, I kept a mesmerized eye on the children of this Colombian community. They held umbrellas over our heads as we collected rocks in the rain for the foundation, and they piled on their own stack — just to help. They brought us handmade bracelets from their own collections, an offering that blurred any differences in our backgrounds or nationalities. They sang songs and loved to play, asking time and time again for us to spin them around. I already knew I was destined to be someone’s mom — but watching them made me understand how better spent my personal money is toward giving a bright life to those waiting for a family.
Because while I’ve invariably wanted a daughter, a son or both, there are countless kids who dream of having a mother. In the United States alone, there are more than 400,000 foster children awaiting adoption, and worldwide, that number is significantly higher. The fees associated with egg preservation and adoption vary greatly, depending on many factors, but if that time comes, I’d rather put my savings toward bringing home a child who needs one.
The fees associated with egg preservation and adoption vary greatly, but if that time comes, I’d rather put my savings toward bringing home a child who needs one.
Traveling has a way of teaching you to focus on what bridges our barriers instead of what has the ability to break them down. It also teaches us those qualities that are universal — anger, sadness, happiness and of course, love. It reminds us we are all children of the world, and with a little help from one another, we can get a bit further. We can spend more time asking about the color of our eyes and how to find the biggest rock, and worry less about how much longer we have until our ovaries reach their expiration date.
The opportunity to become a parent doesn’t have to be frozen to be a possibility. Much like itineraries and flight times, the path toward creating a family is unpredictable and paved with surprises. It doesn’t always go according to plan, but I’d like to think it’s led me to a place where I’m at peace with wherever life takes me. And maybe it’s right back to that joyful, grateful neighborhood to bring home a child not related to me via my womb.
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