From Baby Dolls to Real-Life Babies
Today is my 60th birthday. I’m not sure how I got here. Sixty-year-old women have gray hair and glasses. I guess that does describe me if I quit coloring my hair and count the reading glasses I am wearing to type this on the computer! Still, I cannot be sixty years old! I can’t be married to an almost 62-year-old grandpa. In my eyes, he’s still my handsome, high school sweetheart. But that’s what life is all about. When we are young, we want time to speed up. As we get older, we realize that it goes by too quickly and we want it to slow down.
My story began on December 12, 1961. I was the fifth child of my amazing parents. A little brother would join us two years later making the total count three girls and three boys. My oldest brother was14 when I was born, so I have little memory of him living at home. My earliest memories of him are playing with my niece and nephew at the very young age of 4. He married at 18 and moved out. I loved babies then as much as I do now. I always had a baby doll in my hands. I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah but moved to Pocatello, Idaho when I was four years old. I have no memory of our home in Salt Lake, but I can remember making frosting bunnies with the “grandma” across the street (she was probably 60!). She made wedding cakes and eventually would make mine.
I had a happy childhood. We lived on a street with lots of other families with children. Nightly games were played in the neighborhood and lifelong friendships were made. My best friend lived down the street and we spent our days playing pretend until she moved away when we were 12. Every birthday and Christmas morning was spent together. I thought my world would fall apart. I went with her when she moved and took my first airplane ride home from Boise, Idaho one week later. We stayed in touch for a few years, but life took us in different directions. Years later, my family moved to Boise, but we were in high school by then and had other friends. Eventually, we reconnected and have been close again with memories only we can share.
I loved to play with dolls and Barbies. Sunday afternoons were spent in my bedroom where my older sisters would create a massive Barbie dreamland for me. My favorite thing was to take them on camping trips and sleep in tents while listening to the rainstorms at night. Now as an adult, I love to listen to the sound of rain hitting the tin roof of our trailer as we snuggle safely inside. When I wasn’t playing with Barbies, I would play mommy with my dolls. Each of them had a name and a special place that was their own.
Besides having baby dolls, I also had a passion for Madame Alexander dolls. Every birthday I would receive a new one to add to my collection. One of my favorite Christmas memories is the year Santa brought me a shelf to display my dolls. Of course, my daddy had made it for me—making it extra special. I kept that shelf until I was in my early fifties. It was hard to let go of childhood memories. Even as a grown woman, if I find a Madame Alexander doll, I will buy it. I have the entire Little Women collection and The Wizard of Oz series, as well as Gone With the Wind and several countries and various nursery rhyme characters. I cherish each of them.
My love for dolls turned into a love for babies. I couldn’t wait to start babysitting. I was so excited when my older sister got too busy to babysit and would give out my name. I remember being thrilled to get 50 cents an hour instead of the going rate of 25 cents. I would seek out the babies at church and ask to hold them. During my years of infertility, I would do the same thing. Each week, I would search the congregation for a baby to fill the void for a few short hours. I had a few regulars that would just expect me to take their baby off their hands each week. For them, it was a much-needed break, but for me, it was a much-needed comfort. During my child-bearing years, I often wondered if I would ever lose that longing. Now as a grandmother, I can fulfill that desire once again. Nothing brings me more joy than to hold a newborn in my arms and take in their sweet scent. I delight in watching them grow and the awe in their eyes as they discover new things.
Growing up, my plan was to marry and have seven children; four girls and three boys. Ironically, at one point in my life, I had just that. However, the timing was off and that was a short-lived season of my life. We had foster children in our home for four years in hopes of adoption. Eventually, we would be blessed with the adoption of a two-and-a-half-year-old. But it was a long and bumpy road getting to that point.
Like all little girls, I had other dreams too. For a short time, I wanted to be a hairdresser, then make appointments at a doctor’s office, and my favorite was wanting to be a stewardess and marry my pilot. None of those dreams came true. I married my high school sweetheart just two weeks after my graduation. I went straight from daddy’s girl to wife in a very short period of time. My growing-up years were spent alongside my husband. I thought I was grown up when I married, but I had so much to learn about life.
I quickly learned that life doesn’t always go as planned and adjustments have to be made. Although our first two children came easily, that wasn’t the pattern for the rest of our family. Six years of secondary infertility included tests, artificial insemination, and drugs—not to mention the toll it took on our marriage. Eventually, we turned to adoption and miracles began to happen.
With the help of my sister, we were able to connect to an adoption attorney and within a few short months, we were connected with the expectant mother and welcomed a new baby boy into our home. The way it all fell into place is an assurance that he is our son. We continue to have a relationship with his birth mother and family members. Our daughter was added several years later through the foster care program. Both children are an added blessing in our family of three boys and three girls.
A part of my story that I haven’t shared is the blessing of my niece. A few years after my sister placed her baby for adoption, she became pregnant again. This time, she chose to parent the baby. Because this site is for adoption stories, I have hesitated to share this part of my life. However, it’s a very important piece of who I am. As mentioned before, I love babies. Having this baby girl in our home was like having my own real-life doll! I changed her diapers and clothes multiple times every day. I’m not sure we ever gave her the chance to cry. My mother helped raise her and, when they moved out, I would often babysit for her. Thirty years later, we shared a special time of life together as she carried her first son and I had my last. Our boys share memories of baseball, swimming, and growing up. I consider her to be one of my best friends.
Adoption is a very big part of my story. From my first exposure to it at the age of 9 until now, it continues to impact my life daily. I love to share my stories and hear those of others involved in the adoption world. I get excited when someone tells me they are adopted. Adoption opens doors and opportunities that some may not have had the chance to experience. In the case of my niece, her life and those who love her were a different kind of blessing. No matter what choice you make, it is yours to make. Do not feel pressured to make a decision based on what someone else tells you to do. There are agencies and counselors available to help you make the most important decision of your life and the life of your baby.
My road to motherhood may look different than some, but everyone has their own story to tell. It took twenty-one years for my family to be complete. Some may find it hard to have a baby at the age of 40, but for me, it was one of the best times of my life. Keeping up with him helped keep me feeling young. Having his five older siblings around to help didn’t hurt either. He often says he has four mothers: me and his three sisters. His older brothers have taught him about the hard knocks life can throw at you.
The desire to stop having babies of my own did eventually come and now I am surrounded by thirteen beautiful grandchildren. Blessings come in all shapes and sizes and this is the season of my life when I count mine every day.
Cindy Hill has seen all sides of the adoption triad throughout her life. At the age of 9, she watched as her sister placed her baby for adoption. She married her high school sweetheart who had two adopted siblings and later adopted two of their six children. Adoption is a blessing in her life. Cindy and her husband recently sold their home of 26 years and became empty-nesters. They currently live in a destination trailer on their oldest daughter’s property along with their two dogs and a small herd of cattle. Cindy’s hobbies include going to garage sales, decorating, teaching piano lessons, spending time with grandchildren, and writing. She is a Teacher’s Aide in the Science department of a charter school. She and her husband also enjoy traveling together. Writing gives Cindy a chance to reflect on life and look at it from other points of view as well.