Hello, my dears! I’m thrilled to be launching a new series here on the blog in which I’ll be answering reader questions on a variety of topics. I get so many wonderful emails and instagram direct messages with your questions and this column will allow me to answer a handful each week. All my responses will be in one place that you can revisit whenever you like. Let’s get started with the first round of questions (I received these via instagram, but you can also always email them to firstname.lastname@example.org as well). I hope you find this helpful—here we go!
What are your favorite things about living in the South?
So many things! I love how friendly and welcoming people are here in North Carolina. When we first moved into our home I swear over fifteen families stopped by with homemade baked goods or wine. I kept opening the door in my sweatpants to be greeted by these perfectly made-up Southern belles with banana bread and a handwritten welcome note (always on chic monogrammed stationery)! We have such wonderful neighbors here in Greensboro. Southern hospitality is alive and well!
On another note, we also love how diverse it is here. Greensboro is 40% black, so our son now sees people who look like him everywhere we go. Touring daycare options in Seattle, we rarely saw other black children or teachers—here it’s a wonderful mix of ethnicities. Even little things like the fact that our local Walgreens has an enormous selection of natural hair care products help to make our mixed-race family feel seen.
Last but not least, I have to give a shout out to the food. Have y’all tried Biscuitville?! Southern food may not be great for the waistline, but it is unreal delicious.
What wardrobe items are worth the splurge?
I’m a big fan of investing in shoes and handbags. Beautiful shoes or a luxurious handbag can elevate any outfit and, if made well, stand the test of time. If you’re on a budget but tempted to splurge on a luxury bag, consider second-hand sites like eBay, Etsy, or The Real Real. One of my favorite handbags is a classic Tom Ford for Gucci number with a bamboo handle—I found it in great condition for a fraction of the original price on Etsy! When it comes to clothing, I’m big on affordable staples from places like Everlane and J.Crew, but adding Gucci loafers (still going strong after four years) or a Chanel bag (I think I’ve had mine over 12 years?!) to the mix always makes me feel like a million bucks. Buy the best quality accessories you can afford and you’ll rarely need to replace them.
During your infertility journey did you ever consider or try donor eggs?
We didn’t, but only because my egg count and quality weren’t an issue. I was fortunate to have lots of eggs (my issue, as far as the Danish doctors could tell, was the irregularity of my cycle). My husband had issues on his end as well (he’s okay with me sharing this; we both feel all aspects of infertility should be destigmatized), so we were advised to go straight to IVF using our own eggs and sperm. The fact it never worked out for us was unexplainable. Our doctors were confident that if we kept trying I would eventually get pregnant and give birth. One thing to note is that we were living in Copenhagen during our IVF and chromosomal testing of embryos wasn’t offered in Denmark, unlike America. We switched to adoption because I didn’t want to go through the physical or mental roller coaster that is IVF any longer. For us personally, it was the best decision we ever made. Even though my husband’s employer would pay for us to do IVF here in the U.S., I have no desire to revisit it.
As for donor eggs, I think they can be a wonderful option and know people that have had success with them. I always wanted to experience being pregnant and bringing life into the world—that will forever feel like a loss for me—but having a biological baby was never of huge importance to me so I personally wouldn’t have considered an option like surrogacy, for example. These are all such personal choices (donor eggs, donor sperm, surrogacy, adoption) and I think there is no right or wrong answer—it’s all about what you and your partner are most comfortable with.
Lastly, I will just say again that now that we have adopted Gabriel, I would not have it any other way. I am oddly grateful that our seven IVF transfers didn’t work out because if they had I wouldn’t have my hilarious-silly-wonderful Gabe. I wish I could have known during the darkest hours of our infertility journey that it was all going work out in the end. If you’re going through infertility, please know that one way or another you will become a parent someday. Hang in there and know I’m sending you an enormous hug.
Any suggestions for toy storage solutions?
I love these extra-large baskets from Pottery Barn (they also have rectangular ones). We toss Gabe’s toys into them and it keeps our living spaces relatively tidy. I’ve also been eyeing this trunk for Gabe’s bedroom and am considering these for extra toy storage in his closet.
How does open adoption work? Is it working out for you? Does Gabe spend time with his birth mother?
I get asked this question often and love answering it! For those new to the idea, “open” adoption is when an adopted child has an ongoing relationship with one or both of their biological parents. I will admit when I first started researching open adoption, it made me a bit nervous (initially the idea can feel a bit threatening), but all the research indicates that it leads to the healthiest outcomes for both the child and the birth parent(s). It helps that Gabe’s birth mother is an absolute joy (kind, funny, thoughtful, smart)—we joke that we won the adoption lottery. We have a private instagram account for just her where we share photos and videos of Gabe several times a week and we love when she’s available to FaceTime. When Gabe was six months old she flew out to visit and stayed in our home for a long weekend. It was an incredibly emotional reunion for all of us and after Covid we look forward to hosting her again.
Every open adoption looks different and is tailored to the level of involvement agreed upon by the birth parent(s) and adoptive parent(s). What is best for the child should always be the guiding principal; in some situations there may be far less contact. Open adoption isn’t all sunshine and rainbows—it can be a complex relationship and it’s critical to acknowledge that adoption is a story of great joy for one party and great loss for another—but we’ve found open adoption to be an enormous blessing in our and our son’s lives.
I know Gabe’s birth mama holds the answers to countless questions about his background that I’m unable to answer. During her visit she showed us family photos and seeing Gabe’s resemblance to her relatives (he has her great-grandmother’s cheeks!) was such a profound thing. She is also simply such a wonderful and thoughtful person, never failing to send Gabe birthday and Christmas presents (she even sent me a gift on my first Mother’s Day). I look forward to watching their relationship grow over the years and know that while I get to be “mom” (an immeasurable gift this brave young woman gave me), she too will always be an irreplaceable part of his life.
I’m sorry I can’t get to all your questions in this post, but please keep them coming and look out for next week’s column! Email me your questions to email@example.com or message me on instagram.
P.S. For those interested, there’s a new Daily Hunt live!