Richelle Carey always knew she would have a baby when the time was right. The Emmy award–winning broadcast journalist was focused on her career and not yet married. Before she knew it, she was 43 years old, and her biological clock was ticking. “In my mind, I kept thinking, I will get married, and then I’ll have a baby, but that just never presented itself,” Carey says now. “Then it came to that, Okay, I need to be more intentional about this, because it’s not just happening in the order that you’re raised to think it’s supposed to happen.” Carey decided to freeze her eggs to buy herself more time. She didn’t end up using the frozen eggs until three years later, when she was 46.

Carey and Avery, then 9 months old, live in Texas. | Photo credit: Jerren Willis Photography

Partly due to her age, she hadn’t been able to produce a large number of eggs—and her first in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure, using a sperm donor, was unsuccessful. She considered trying again, but the cost was prohibitive and the chance of her actually becoming pregnant slim. Though disappointed, she remained hopeful. The next year, Carey started researching adoption options. At the time she was living in Doha, Qatar, which presented a few hurdles.

Those seeking to adopt are responsible for hiring a social worker. If she were living in the United States, she could have more easily found a social worker to conduct her home study—a comprehensive screening of prospective adoptive parents that must occur prior to approval for adoption. Living overseas, she ended up using one who was based in Germany and whom she had to fly to Doha to complete the inspection. Another challenge was finding a U.S. agency that would work with her despite the fact that she lived abroad. Miraculously, she was able to get on the waiting list of an agency in Texas—and was approved to become an adoptive parent in late 2018.

But after a couple who was giving up their baby for adoption declined, most likely because she lived too far away, “I think I was probably more disappointed about that than I had been about the IVF not working,” Carey says. “I knew the IVF was a long shot, and I’d prepared myself for that. But with this letdown, I was kind of like, Huh. This is going to be harder than I thought.” Even so, she remained positive. She started to consider whether she needed to move back to the States. “I tried to tell myself that the right baby would find me,” she says, “and that’s what ended up happening.”

In 2020, Carey left her job as an Al Jazeera English anchor and moved back to her hometown of Houston so that she could finally adopt. And in March 2021, she received a call from the adoption agency she was working with, saying that a birth mother who had a 6-week-old baby was interested in meeting her.

Carey drove to Dallas to meet the birth mother the very next day. She knew at once that little Avery was the baby she’d been waiting for. The following morning, Carey told the agency that she wanted to adopt him—and within four days, he was home with her. Since then, Avery, who is now 1 year old, and Carey, who turned 50 in October, have been living with her parents in their guest home in Houston. “If you told me that at 50 years old, I would be a single mom living in my parents’ guest house, I would think that I had screwed up my life,” says Carey, laughing. “But actually everything turned out perfectly, so it’s the exact opposite.”

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2022 issue of ESSENCE magazine, available on newsstands now.

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