I’m excited to be participating in my first WOW! Women On Writing Blog Tour by interviewing first-time author Sharon Simons, whose memoir, Mom at Last, hits shelves August 1. Here, I ask her a few questions about her long journey to motherhood and the even-more-challenging task of penning her first book. In addition to making time for an interview, the busy mom has also offered to give away a copy of Mom at Last. The winner will be randomly selected from readers who comment on the interview below:
CO: I’m not a mom, but I could total identify with how you found yourself in your late 30s without having found that perfect mate and future father to your children. Do you see that a lot in your work with your website and other projects?
SS: I hear that all the time. It catches up with you fast, doesn’t it? I was married the first time and I just knew it wasn’t right. Thankfully, we got divorced before having children. I dated someone else for a couple of years, and I realized he wasn’t the right one. And, as I said it the book, you wake up at 39 and ask, ‘How did I get here?’ It just goes so fast. I’m busy. I’m working, and sometimes dating these not so great men takes up a lot of valuable time because you want it to be right so badly that you kind of look past some of the faults. I just wanted so desperately to have a family. All my girlfriends had kids. I have three godchildren. I think I just wanted to find that someone who was good enough to be the father of my children. It was when I least expected it that I met my husband, Rick.
CO: Because you were so upfront about wanting a family, you and Rick started the process of trying to have children through in-vitro fertilization pretty quickly after getting together. What advice would you give to others considering IVF?
SS: You don’t know what to expect and I personally didn’t know anyone who had gone through in vitro. It’s really a scary world. I didn’t realize the emotional toll it takes because I am not that emotional. But giving myself all these hormones made me different. It made me cry. It made me gain weight. I remember being itchy after giving myself the shots. But I think there’s a lot more support now than there was then [in 2005]. Now, it’s something that you can almost talk about at the dinner table because everyone knows someone who has gone through IVF. That’s one reason I wanted to write this book. I wanted to tell the good, the bad and the ugly.
CO: Though some couples have great success with IVF, your experience was ugly, which is what made you investigate adoption. In your book, you call it a gift. What changed your thinking?
SS: Knowing what I know now, I would have never gone through IVF, but I didn’t really understand the adoption world. And you hear horror stories, but I am definitely an adoption advocate. I also understand that people want to have their own children, but these two children that I have — they are my own. But you don’t get that at the time. Now, I always ask, ‘What makes your DNA so important?’ If I was younger, I’d definitely adopt more children, but I don’t want to kill my husband because he needs to retire at some point. But I hope reading my story and seeing my family might inspire someone else to go that route.
CO: Your sons are from Russia. Late last year, Russia banned all U.S. adoptions and most say the ban is a response to an American law barring Russian human rights violators from U.S. soil. What are your thoughts on the recent change?
SS: It really has nothing to do with adoption. It’s very unfortunate because, there, the kids are in orphanages. I think they are in a baby house until they are four, and then they move to a different house. Every time they move into a house with a different age group, the level of care is lower and lower. When I brought Dylan and Hunter home at 16 months and 23 months, they were 14 and 16 pounds. So, though the place looked clean, they were not getting the care, not getting the nutrition, not getting what they needed there.
CO: Since this is part of a WOW! Blog Tour, I want to close with a question about writing. When we were exchanging emails before this interview, you mentioned that writing a book was harder than adopting the boys from Russia, which was far from easy. What made writing Mom at Last so difficult?
SS: I really have a new respect for writing and writers. A lot of people say, ‘Oh, I’ll write a book.’ But it’s really difficult to get the words to come to life. It took me a while and my husband really helped me. We would pull out things and change things. And I have an editor who really helped me because I’m not a writer. I say to people, ‘Now I know why writers put themselves into a cabin in the woods for three months. I get it.’ But until you do something, you don’t really understand it, so I have a totally new respect for anyone who writes.
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