Hope Shaken, Not Stirred

While the rest of the country continues to get abused with relentless ice and snow, our little corner of the world has had unseasonably warm weather, clear skies, sunshine.  Things are blooming that have no business doing so at this very moment, but no one told them that, so they just keep poking their little heads up higher and higher and higher until they burst through the dirt to meet the sun.  I’m afraid that we are going to have a hard freeze one of these nights and it’s going to shock those little buds right back to the ground.  When tender buds that didn’t expect to get blasted by freezing weather do, they often don’t come back until the next year. The ones that stayed just under the top layer of dirt for a little while longer are protected from the frost and come out when the coast is clear.

So, let’s talk about train of thought writing and the unexpected consequences.  I did not expect, as I was looking out the window and writing about my flowers, to write a painfully obvious and cliché metaphor about my own heart.  I did not expect to have to grab a napkin from the dining room table to bawl my eyes out when I realized the reason I’ve been feeling just a little bit sideways is that at some point, I am not even sure when, I seem to have lost the ability to believe that something good is going to happen to us in this adoption journey.  And I totally do not have the right to believe that, because we have only been home study ready for six weeks, and we worked so hard to get to that point.  Really, we should just be enjoying the fact that we made it through to the other side, because it was a lot of emotional hard work.  It’s also worth noting that it is a darn good thing we did not get called right away, since during the month of February I got to enjoy both the stomach flu AND legit influenza. (Note to self: stop justifying your feelings away with practicality and facts, for heaven’s sake! You have a right to be upset sometimes just because.)

I spend some time every day reading the WordPress journeys of other women like myself, women who are going through IVF, or considering using an egg donor, or pursuing adoption.   It’s important to read their stories and remind myself there are other people out there going through this too, because otherwise it is isolating to the point of suffocation to be the only one. One of these ladies recently underwent IVF, was successful, and learned she is having identical twins.  That was last week.  Probably I should have stopped reading at that point, like a total jerk who can’t be happy for someone else because her twins have their own amniotic sacs and mine didn’t. Instead, I continued following her updates and today she was seeking advice about whether she should tell her boss and her coworkers she is eight weeks pregnant, and before I knew it I was shrieking at my laptop, “No, woman, no! Why would you do that?!” Yeesh.  Never mind that when I was pregnant with E, I told everyone I encountered that I was pregnant at about 4 weeks along.  The hubs thought we should wait a while to tell people, and I was like, “Yeah, that’s not gonna happen.  Hey, did you tell your mechanic yet?”

But then we experienced loss.  And more loss, and then nothingness.  Through all of that we had this shining little beacon who was oblivious to our pain and radiated joy through our home like Tinkerbell and her pixie dust.  It’s hard to feel despair when the embryo who did show up to the party is now a little boy full of love and light.  And I’m so incredibly grateful for him, and I think the truth is I just don’t know if lightning really can strike twice in the same spot.  Perhaps the biggest problem is that I’m just not sure I believe it can, for now. When God blesses you with what you desired most above all else, is it fair to ask for another miracle?  When you do, is it fair to expect one? 

Borrowed Genes



Adoption 101: The Post I Wish Had Been Written By Someone Else Four Months Ago

IT BEGINS! The hubs and I have been shown our first birth mother profile, and we gave permission for our agency to share our portfolio with the expectant mother. Although this young lady will be shown a number of profiles, and it is unlikely that we will be chosen the very first time around, it feels good to finally be in this place where someone could choose us if they so desired. The idea that we could be bringing home a baby sooner rather than later makes my heart pitter-patter just to think of it.

Many people have asked me how adoption works these days, specifically open adoption. It is a concept unfamiliar to most people, unless you have gone through the process or love someone who has. WE HAD NO IDEA WHERE TO BEGIN OR WHAT WE WERE DOING.  Also, no one could really explain it particularly well.  I guess that is because there are so many variables and no two cases are the same.  Four months later, we have gained a wealth of knowledge that I hope will be helpful to others in the same boat.

Firstly, there is no such thing as a closed adoption anymore, unless the birth mother specifically requests it. All adoptions throughout the country are open, and “open adoption” spans a very wide continuum. For example, at it’s most minimal, the birth mother and the adoptive couple will know each other’s full names. At maximum, the birth mother may insist on a certain number of visits per year, as well as monthly photos and letters. As an adoptive parent, one must choose what they are comfortable with and stick to it. The arrangement you decide on with the birth mother is written into the contract.  In other words, you cannot agree to three visits a year and then just disappear.  The only provision is if it’s in the best interest of the child not to see birth mom because she is not a safe person to be around at that time.  As the parents, we of course get to make that call.

Oregon is a very adoption friendly state, both for expectant mothers and adoptive parents. During their pregnancy, expectant mothers are offered a great deal of counseling to make sure they understand the full commitment of what they are planning. Other options are discussed with the birth mom if she decides during her pregnancy she just can’t go through with an adoption, such as what types of public assistance might help her afford to parent, or other resources like counseling or rehab if those are needed.  All of the options available to a woman with an unexpected pregnancy are discussed well ahead of time. On the other hand, consent to adopt papers are signed the day the baby is born. Immediately after those papers are signed, the mother signs another paper revoking her right to contest the papers she just signed. This means that the adoptive parents can take their new baby home without fear that the birth mother will change her mind and take the baby back. In many states, there is a 30-day waiting period, even after papers have been signed, where the baby can be reclaimed and the return is automatic.

When we were researching adoption agencies to join, we came close to signing up with one that works with adoptive mothers from every state. We requested that we only be shown to expectant mothers from certain states so we wouldn’t have to experience a full thirty days of incomprehensible fear that our newly adopted baby might be reclaimed. They were unwilling to do that for us, and so we signed on with our next choice, a local agency that only places infants in Oregon and Washington. Washington has excellent adoption laws too, similar to Oregon. The nationwide agency was unable to understand why we couldn’t just have enough “faith” that it would work out. (I am a gigantic fan of people busting out the “faith card” in order to try to manipulate me into seeing things their way).  The final straw for us was probably when the adoption coordinator from the national agency told us, “I suggest you just reserve the majority of your heart for the first month. Try not to bond too much with the baby, and think of yourselves more or less as caregivers.”

Psycho.  Psycho psycho psycho!  What kind of person says that?  Don’t bond with the baby?  Should we refer to he/she as “it” and avoid eye contact at all costs, too?  Please.  I’m so grateful the hubs and I were on speakerphone with that lady rather than Skype when she decided to drop that little nugget of wisdom on us.  We were able to look at one another and gesticulate wildly at the phone while mouthing “WTH?” back and forth at each other.  If you are considering adoption and want to know the name of that agency so they can avoid it, definitely message me on the BG facebook page and I will gladly share.

But I digress. Back to the process.  After a couple has miraculously survived the lengthy and emotionally draining process of becoming “home study approved,” each birth mother that turns to our adoption agency for assistance cites her preferences for an adoptive family.  For example, maybe it is important to them that the couple is a specific religion, or even a certain race.  If we meet those preferences, the agency emails us a detailed profile of the birth mother and asks us if we would like to be presented. After the birth mother has decided on a family by sorting through profiles, a meeting is set up and she will then decide if she wants to place her baby with you. It’s that simple! Ha! Ha ha ha! There is nothing simple about adoption! Nothing!  But much like any road that leads to parenthood, it is worth it 1000 times over.

The hubs and I are feeling optimistic and relieved to be in the place we are now regarding the journey.  I will keep you posted!

Taking a New Road to the Same Destination

There are times in all our lives when we receive a message from God, or the Universe, or wherever you feel your life altering messages come from.  They do not happen often; if I had to compare it to the proverbial “lightbulb” moment, I would say the kind of message I’m talking about is more like someone throwing the flood lights at a baseball stadium after you have been sitting in total darkness.  I received such a message, and the gist of it was this: my body has been through enough, and it is time to let it be still in regards to trying to force it to become pregnant when it obviously does not want to be.  The second part of the message is that the baby my husband and I will add to our family is out there somewhere, probably in utero, and that we will find the baby we are meant to have through adoption.

When I decided to follow the signs and leave the egg donor ivf cycle behind, I felt very free and encouraged in a way that I had not felt for a long time.  Mostly I felt like I was going to regain control of my body and not constantly be in a cycle, preparing for a cycle, or recovering from a cycle.  My three year old son was conceived via IVF and I would not change that for the world.  But I have also experience three more cycles since them, two miscarriages and one that did not take at all.  With donor IVF, we were still running a risk.  If it did not take, that money was gone, and like most folks we do not have an endless supply.  With adoption, eventually we will adopt.  It may take 6 months, or a year, but the money invested in the domestic infant adoption process will result in us adopting and coming home with a new son or daughter.  It is not without it’s risks and heartbreaks but it feels absolutely right for us.

The tone of my blog is now going to focus more on our adoption journey since that is where we are in our lives at this moment.  I also hope to add some “Great Moments in Mom History” as well as thoughts and reflections from my IVF days. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has made a similar decision in their life, and what motivated them to transition from IF treatments to adoption.