Kristy Gilger: On a Mama’s Adoption Journey
“As a couple, we have been saying, ‘We might adopt’ for six years. Finally being in the waiting pool for a baby feels unreal.” Kristy Gilger, Matrescence’s Social Media and Community Manager, sheds light on the process of adoption as she and her husband prepare to bring their second child home. After health issues, a high risk pregnancy and difficult fourth trimester with her now 4-year-old son, Kristy describes the emotional ups and downs of her motherhood experience, and shares how embracing all paths to motherhood led to this exciting new stage for her family.
Kristy, tell us about you:
I am a working mom of a 4-year-old boy who is a mischievous, smart little dude, always hatching plans to prank us whenever he can. I am married to my best friend Jessy, a kind and adventurous man who helps balance me out. We love going camping and enjoying family bike rides to the river.
In what ways do you feel your path to motherhood was different or unique?
My path to motherhood is a little different because I never wanted to be a mom initially. I desired marriage but was uncertain about having kids. After getting married, I developed a form of Lupus and focused on my health. I developed vasculitis, which is a type of inflammation of the blood vessels. It created a rash that was all over my legs and body. I didn’t think having children was in the cards.
God had other plans, however, and I unexpectedly became pregnant. I was told by my high-risk doctors that my baby wouldn't make it, and was given the option to terminate the pregnancy: termination was not an option for me. After having my son, I struggled with postpartum depression. I remember hating life, and being depressed that I hated it. Looking back, even though my pregnancy and the fourth trimester were traumatic, I would do it all over again to have my son. He is the light of my world, and I love him immensely.
How does Matrescence’s Mission to “mother the mother” resonate with you as a mom, and how will you carry that into this next stage of motherhood?
Matrescence was the first skincare company I found that focuses on mothering the mother. What a beautiful concept! Being a mom is the most beautifully broken experience one can go through. It brings tremendous personal growth because, without growth, we would drown in the chaos. Part of me wishes everyone could experience parenthood because of how it changes you. I appreciate that Matrescence is all about embracing this new version of yourself. I had never heard the term "matrescence" before, which refers to the physical, emotional, hormonal, and social transition to becoming a mother. It is empowering to know that it is all part of the process.
Tell us about your experience with adoption so far! Where are you in the journey, what has been the best part so far?
As a couple, we have been saying, "We might adopt" for six years, and individually, we both expressed the desire to adopt even before we knew each other. Finally being in the waiting pool for a baby feels unreal! It has been an emotional journey trying to figure it all out. Initially, we thought about fostering to adopt, but the reunification rates in our state were very high, meaning it would be difficult to find a permanent placement. We decided to explore other options. We also considered having another biological child, but the physical and emotional toll pregnancy and postpartum takes on me is too high.
What has been the most challenging?
The most challenging part was discerning whether adoption was the path God wanted us to take. We had to simplify our lives and evaluate if this was the right decision. One day, I was in the middle of Target and I saw baby clothes and suddenly felt a sense of peace about the decision. I came home to my husband with some baby clothes and told him I was all in.
What do you want others to know when exploring adoption as a path to motherhood?
I want other parents to know that it's okay to be scared about adoption, or afraid their family won't accept it. Parenting, in general, is scary, and no route to motherhood is easy, but they are all beautiful. Adoption hasn't been normalized as much as other paths to motherhood, and I hope it becomes more widespread.
Cost is another hurdle that parents are afraid of; they think it's too expensive. However, there are great resources available that can bring the cost down to $10,000-$15,000. In the US, the federal government provides approximately $15,000 in assistance towards adoption fees. Additionally, grants are available through agencies after being matched. Another option is the foster-to-adopt route, which is more affordable.
What are you most looking forward to, and what are you most nervous about?
I am really looking forward to that first moment of holding the baby and introducing them to our son. I can't wait to say, "Here's your baby brother or sister." However, I am also nervous about the possibility of displacement (when the birth mother changes her mind). While we support reunification and are happy to be a part of it, a change of plans would be devastating for my 4-year-old, who asks every week if we are getting his sibling that day. The displacement rate in the US is around 37%! Thankfully our agency has a much lower rate of 2%.
When someone looks at you as a mom, what do you hope they'll take away about parenting?
Honestly, it's hard to say. I suppose my biggest message is to avoid "shoulding" on each other and just be yourself. Being a mom is challenging enough, but if we don't accept that we are all different individuals, mothers, and wives, we'll have a difficult time on this journey alone. Embracing our true authentic selves allows our village to rally around us and support us.
Follow Kristy on Instagram here