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Archive for February, 2007

My mom

My mom and I had a good conversation yesterday.  We’ve always been close, but in truth, I’ve pulled away some since we moved here and then again since the miscarriage.  Moving here has been difficult in so many ways – I think ultimately I’m not designed to be this far away from my family.  And it is easier to not be sad about that if I hold my family members at arm’s length.  I’ve been trying not to do that anymore because it doesn’t help anyone.  Then after the miscarriage, I think part of me resented being the statistic in the family, being the 1 in 3 women who suffers from infertility.  My mom had three kids and while she had a rough pregnancy with my sister and an even rougher birth, she went on to have me 9 years later.  My sister and her husband were that couple who planned their pregnancies.  They would decide when they were ready to start trying and then within 2 months of that they were pregnant.  And aside from morning sickness, a rash and a gallbladder attach, she had great pregnancies.  And then there was me.  So after the miscarriage when I started reading statistics and I knew that it not only had happened that one time, but that it was quite likely to happen again, I felt resenteful, to be honest.  So I did the “why me?” thing for a long time. So it’s not that my relationship with my mom has been strained, but I know how much my pain and grief have really worn on her being so far away from me.

Yesterday we talked about the adoption and how enthusiastic I feel.  And I told her that I understood if she still needed time grieving for the lack of natural grandchildren from me – I had read about this in one of the adoption books and had never considered it.  She admitted that she still gets angry when she sees pregnant women, she’s still scarred from the injustice of it all.  But you know were it not infertility a lot of couples would never even consider adoption, so it’s that whole, when God gives you lemons/after the rain scenarios.  Blessings in disguise so to speak.  For us, it’s been surprising to end up on the adoption journey sooner than we expected, but it’s a welcome surprise.

In any case, I was trying to convince my mother that I’m fine.  That while I might have moments of grief in the future, right now I am at total peace by the journey we’re on.  She was really great, although I’m not certain she totally believed me.  But she said, “You know, Robyn, you’ve always been that woman, the one who could love any child.  That’s a gift.  Not every woman can do that.”  At the time I was so moved by her confidence in me that I didn’t say what I should of said – that the only reason I’m like that is because she’s like that.  Anytime I’ve ever talked about being a mom, it’s always with comparison or thought of my own mom.  She’s the consummate mom, the one all the kids in the  neighborhood wished were their’s.  I still have people say that to me.  But she’s mine.  Granted, I do have to share her with my brother and my sister and their children, but still.

I think my mom has been looking to me to see how she should feel about this whole adoption thing.  She doesn’t want me to do something that makes me sad or feel bad in anyway – cause she’s my mom and she’s still protective.  But I do think I finally explained to her my feelings and where I am right now and that I don’t feel like I’m settling or taking the alternative.  I choose adoption because I WANT to adopt (as does DH, can’t forget about him. 🙂 )

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Research

There’s so much information out there on agencies, yet all the agencies have their own way of presenting that information so digging up stuff and trying to compare is a headache.  I’ve got a partial Excel spreadsheet worked out, but every new agency adds new fees and it’s just a big mess.  One thing I find frustrating is when you look at the fee breakdown and they’ll have all the match cost and then in tiny print it will say (does not include birth mother expenses or legal fee).  Ooooookay!

I mentioned yesterday about liking the whole one-stop shopping aspect of American Adoptions, all the fees are up front and I respond well to that even if they’re a little more expensive (which still remains to be seen).  Another agency I looked at recently, a local one here in Tennessee, has a flat fee for the match, but then you’re required to pay all the birth mother expenses separately which not only includes medical and living, but also her legal fees and counseling.  It’s not that I’m against paying for these things, I just would prefer to know up front what I’m getting into.  I don’t like the wait-and-see fees anymore than I like the hidden fees.  I mean it’s one thing to not know how much travel expenses will be in case you’re called spur of the moment and have to fly to Idaho – how much does it cost to fly from TN to Idaho?  I don’t know.  So those types of things I can swing with, but the others just concern me too much.

The other thing that has been difficult to find is a success rate.  I’d like to know, percentage wise, how many of their adoptions are successful.  Not all agencies are promoting this.  Perhaps some would tell me if I asked, so I can’t accuse anyone of hiding the information, but it does seem like something one would want to make available.   So the whole research thing is frustrating, but more than anything it’s just confirming my initial feeling that we have the right agency in our sights.

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Self-assessment

There was a song we used to sing in church when I was a little girl.

Jesus loves the little children
all the children of the world
red, and yellow, black and white
they are precious in his sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world

When we first starting thinking about adoption from China, I kept going back to this song.  Transracial adoption is something to consider carefully. I had spoken with parents who had already adopted from China and while most of them said that the majority of people were accepting, there were still some who made comments or gave nasty looks or whatnot.  Now that we’ve postponed China for a few years (until we qualify) we’re looking at another transracial adoption.  That of bi-racial or African American adoption.  It’s a touchy subject and sometimes difficult to navigate, but I’m trying to be totally honest with myself as I weigh all of the options.

I worry about whether or not the African American community would be accepting of a black child being raised by white parents.  I worry about not having the right thing to say if someone was condesending or rude – or perhaps saying the wrong thing when nothing should be said at all.  As silly as it may be, I worry about the difference in hair and whether or not I’ll know what to do and which products to use (but I’m told there are a couple of books that help with this, so that’s a relief).

All in all, they are probably silly concerns.  At the end of the day (or the long multi-month process) we’ll take home OUR child, the one that was meant for us and we’ll love that child and we’ll care for that child just as we would any who had come from our own bodies.   At the same time the worries are there, niggling at the back of my mind.  DH says only a person with enough love to love any child would even have those thoughts, so he is not worried at all.  He’s such a balance to me

And we believe that the more children who are raised in multi-cultural families, the more difficult it will become for racism to survive in our culture.  But we certainly would not adopt to make a political or moral statement, perhaps it’s just a nice by-product of transracial adoption.  We want children, we want to be parents and there are kids out there who need families.  So perhaps that chidren’s song should be an adoption theme song.  We want whatever child God wants to place in our hands, no matter what state they’re born in, or what their parents educational background is, or whether or not they have ever been to church or even what color they might be.  So when it comes to us being open to transracial adoption, you bet, sign us up!

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Only 15 more days

Until DH and I celebrate our 2nd anniversary.  This is a requirement for a lot of adoption agencies, including the one we’re favoring, American Adoptions.  So we have at least 15 more days to wait before we can fill out applications.  Everything feels right at the moment and I’ve really got the momentum to move forward.  DH keeps my head in the game though since we clearly can’t go too far without all the funds.  I’ve been researching loans and grants and fundraisers, but we won’t know for a while what we’ll have with any of those.  So we’re taking a leap of faith and praying the money will show up when we need it.  We decided last night we’ll do each step whenever we have the money for them.  Right now we can do the application fee and the homestudy.

Since the agency we’re looking at isn’t lisenced to do homestudies in our state, we’ll have to use a separate agency, so I’ve been contacting them and gathering information.  Right now the going rate seems to be $1000, which is more or less what we were expecting.  The next group of fees are a couple of $100+ items and then the activation fee, which we don’t have yet.  But we’re hoping that it comes through in the next couple of months – we have a few things in the pipeline that could lead to this money, so it is feasible.  And then after that comes the big charge in the form of legal fees, birthmother costs and whatnot.  It’s a lot, but so worth it.

So if anyone out there has any information on American Adoptions, I’d love to talk to you and get your experience.

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Not sad

So many times since we lost our baby we have been out to dinner or wherever and I would see a pregnant woman or a baby and I would get sad.  One night, in particular, they must have been having a baby convention or something because at the large table next to us (at dinner) there were no less than 6 of them and 3 pregnant woman included.  I always hated that this made me sad.  Babies are supposed to make people happy.  And pregnancy, despite the fact that most people don’t view it this way, is a gift.  Sometimes I would be grocery shopping and would have to pass through the baby section and seeing those little socks, or jars of mushed food or industrial sized packs of diapers would make me feel sad.It was all jealousy, more of the “why me” stuff that I’ve been wallowing in for a year now.  And frankly I’m tired of it.  I’m tired of feeling sad and questioning my value as a woman.

Last night after dinner we actually went to Babies R Us.  No getting away from the baby stuff there and while we were only there for a short while (cause dinner took FOREVER so we got there about 20 minutes before they closed) it was nice.  We just briefly walked through the furniture, pointing at cribs we like, then went onto the bedding where DH noted that the for such tiny bed stuff, some of it was rather pricey.  But all so cute.  In the midst of all of this baby stuff, we were surrounded by pregnant women, at one point I turned to DH and told him, “I don’t feel sad.”  It was so freeing to be able to enjoy that sort of thing again rather than feel angry or jealous or sad.  It goes back to the hope I was talking about earlier this week.

I also know that the likelihood of me not ever feeling sad about infertility again is slim to none.  I’m sure I will experience bouts of grief every now and then, it would be foolish for me not to expect that.  But I think the big sadness is gone, I think I’ve just reached a nice level of peace that I’m willing to fight to keep.

I know we’re still a ways off, we haven’t even had our home study done yet, but we’re on the path and it feels right.  Speaking of the home study, I emailed the local agency we’re looking at for providing that lengthy event, but have not heard back from them yet.  In the meantime I’m still researching all of our options so when the time comes we know which choice is right for us.

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Long-time coming

When I was 16 years old I watched a three-part 20/20 special on adoption.  They focused mostly on the, at the time, Romanian orphanages, and they talked a lot about the fact that the babies often had attachment problems because they weren’t held enough.  But they did do some other segments on the orphan crisis in America, highlighting the older kids who still wait for their forever families.  They showed these “meet the kids” picnics where everyone would dress up and they’d go to a local park and prospective adoptive parents would show up to sort of “shop” around – I’m sure it’s not as crass as that sounds.  Most of the families wanted the 6 -10 year olds.  The poor 16 year olds were never even considered.  All I could think about was the fact that when they turned 18, that was it, they’d never be a part of a family.  Sure they could make their own once they married and be apart of their in-laws, but they wouldn’t have grandparents on their side for their own children and wouldn’t have anywhere to “go home” for the holidays.  I cried through the whole show and something rose up inside of me and I knew that someday I would adopt.  I carried that with me through high school and then again through college, knowing someday the day would come.

I met my husband when I was 29 years old and during an e-mail exchangea very early in our relationship, he mentioned the desire to adopt.  I’d never said anything about my own dreams so he was not simply saying what I wanted to hear.  But reading his words were powerful and while we hadn’t known each other for long, I suspected he might be the one for me.  Well, I was right and we married 11 months later.

We talked a lot about adoption together.  My husband was passionate about the international orphanages, since his parents had been on the board of one in Costa Rica.  I was passionate about the lost teens in our own country.  We both agreed that adoption would be something we did later, after we had our own kids and they were older so that they could participate in the family decision.  We envisioned being a large mixed family with too many kids, but overflowing in love.

And then I was diagnosed with infertility.  Miraculously we got pregnant on our first treatment.  But then I lost the baby.  I started my research then and learned that if I ever got pregnant again, I had a 60% chance of having another miscarriage.  I steeled myself for the worst as best as I could and we jumped back into treatments.  Three cycles later, my body was bruised and battered and we still were not pregnant.  And we’d spent a ton of money.  The doctor never mentioned moving on to IVF, but we knew it wasn’t an option for us.  I spent a lot of time soul-searching and crying and praying and I started seeing that adoption dream of mine a little differently.

Perhaps the reason I’d had a heart for adoption for the past 16 years was that it was the way I would become a mother.  Perhaps those plans we made were silly ones.  So that’s when I started research, looked into fost-adopt (didn’t like the requirements in our home state), and found China.  And well, we all know how that turned out.  So once again, my heart has changed at how I look at adoption and now I whole-heartedly want the kind of adoption that only 3 months ago terrified me.  All those questions….what if the birthmother changes her mind?  What if she wants to be a part of the child’s life?  They might still make me nervous, but I’m not afraid anymore.

So here we are on the road to domestic infant adoption.  It’s bumpy, but we’re managing to stay upright.  What about those lost teenagers?  I still have a heart for them and I still want to adopt some, or perhaps a sibling group.  We just want to start with a baby, get a little parenting under our belt before we deal with teenage attitudes – I remember being a teenager, I was grumpy and I liked it that way.  🙂  Perhaps this has been the big plan all along.  Instead of spending money on fertility treatments, we’ll instead, spend money on building our family with children who are already here, children who need forever families.  Yeah, that’s what we’ll do…

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Hope

When you go through infertility, you lose hope.  Really quickly.  You question everything, your faith, your own worth, your identity, life in general, your womanhood, everything that you’ve been so certain about becomes fuzzy around the edges and life seems so unorchestrated and uncertain.  I’ve felt this way for over a year.  Lots of the “Why me?” kind of stuff, which gets on your own nerves after a while.  So many times I’ve felt just sick of myself because you feel like you’re wallowing in self-pity, but you can’t turn the feelings off.  It’s an emotional faucet that you can’t reach, and it’s tiring.

But lately I’ve felt something that I’d nearly forgotten existed.  Hope.  It’s been coursing through me in a myriad of ways.  I can actually close my eyes and imagine what it will be like to get that call, the call that says we’ve been matched and that we have a child on the way.  It’s far more complex in real life than in my dreams.  But the fact that I have the courage to dream right now is so huge.  Becauce it’s so easy to forget how to do that when you’re rolling around in the infertility muck.

I’ve seen it in DH too.  Even though we haven’t yet come to a conclusion on which route we’ll take, he seems excited.  I know once we do the home study things will really begin to feel real.  We’ve actually started talking about the nursery again, we haven’t done that since before the miscarriage.  I still have three packs of newborn diapers that I bought (with coupons, of course) sitting in our guest room along with toys and clothes that were mostly given to us.  For the first time in a long time we find ourselves hopeful.

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