Saturday, February 28, 2015

Why we didn't adopt

Earlier this month Klara authored a post about wanting to share the story of why she and her husband chose not to adopt.  Someone (me?) suggested that several of us might join in and share the story of why we chose not to adopt too.  Safety in numbers, right?  On Thursday Savannah kicked off the sharing of stories by writing a beautiful post about why she and her husband have decided not to try to adopt again.

So without further ado, here is the story of why we chose not to adopt......

I’m not really a baby person.  Quite frankly I think they’re sort of boring.  They eat, sleep, poop, puke, and cry and not much else for the first couple of months.  I don’t even really start to like kids until they are a couple of years old and can verbally communicate, feed themselves, and use the toilet semi-independently.  Hubs is the same.  So why did we even want a kid?  Well, partly because hubs and I felt like it would be different with our own kid and part of it was plain old curiosity to see what the combined genetic matter of hubs and I looked like, acted like, etc.  I wanted to teach our kid how to read and play soccer and drive.  Hubs wanted to teach our kid how to play guitar, martial arts, and to paint.  We wanted to help our kid with science fair projects and go to band concerts and figure out which college they were going to go to.  We wanted to be there to support our kid when s/he got bullied or failed a math test.  We hoped that our kid would get my height and nose and hubs’ cheekbones and eyes.  We hoped that our kid would get hubs’ organization, attention to detail and musical ability and that s/he would get my academic ability, spontaneity, and willingness to try new things.

But sometimes things don’t work out as planned.  We tried really hard to have a baby for a long time.  We went as far as we were willing to go and then we stopped.  It broke our hearts but we made the best decision for us and haven’t looked back one time.

So that brings us to adoption.  Did we consider adoption?  Yes.  Is something that we ever felt fully comfortable with?  No.  Did we do our due diligence anyway?  Yes.  We thoroughly investigated something that we never dreamt that we’d even have to consider.  And we cried.  A lot.  And we went back and forth.  A lot.

We are lucky to have friends who have adopted, both domestic and international.  We asked questions and they answered everything we asked.  Their candor was appreciated.  They talked about the good, the bad, and the challenges.  We looked into agencies and even talked to a few. 

We knew from the beginning that international adoption was off the table for us.  We had substantial ethical concerns with how many of the children, particularly the young ones, ended up being placed for adoption and honestly felt like many of the required fees were basically bribery.  Additionally we worried about long-term effects of institutionalization of children eligible for international adoption.  Domestic private adoption was also ruled out quickly because we were not comfortable with the idea of open adoption (meaning that some kind of relationship was maintained with the birth parent), which is very common in the United States.  Also it seems like private domestic adoption is the wild wild west when it comes to variability of laws across states. 

Adoption through the state foster care system is what we gave the most serious thought to.  Hubs and I both have professional backgrounds that would make us well suited to adopt children who had been removed from their parents for whatever reason, usually abuse or neglect.  We would have been the type of foster parents that an agency would have jumped at the chance to work with.  But in the end we couldn’t do it.  Our hearts were shattered from dealing with infertility and we couldn’t possibly imagine fostering a child, falling in love with them, and then returning them to their parent when the time came.  It would have been too much for us.

Money was never a consideration when we looked at our adoption options (or IVF, for that matter).  Both are incredibly expensive.  We always said that if it was something that we were truly passionate about pursuing or thought that the outcome would likely be good that we would have figured out a way to pay for it. 

Adoption is a wonderful thing.  It’s a great way for many couples to build their family.  There are a bunch of amazing children who have been adopted or who are looking for their forever homes by no fault of their own.  All children deserve to be loved and to have a safe home and parents that care about them, and I am so glad that there are parents called to adopt these children.

In the end we knew that we weren’t cut out to be adoptive parents.  Instead of building our family we decided to remain a family of two.  I guess I can boil our decision to adopt down to one sentence:  We didn’t want to parent a kid; we wanted to parent OUR kid.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

They just keep coming....

Pregnancy announcements, that is.

One of my college roommates announced pregnancy number two to me and another college roommate yesterday in a private message on Facebook, complete with a scan picture.  Both people she announced to have infertility issues; I obviously chose to live without children and the other friend and her husband chose to adopt.  The friend that announced knows all of this.  I appreciated the in advance announcement but scan pictures are always pretty hard for me.

So I did what any self-respecting infertile would do and responded in a passive-agressive, slightly snarky manner.  I poured a big glass of wine, took a picture of it, sent it to the friend, and offered toast to her good news.  This friend loves wine and won't be drinking it for the better part of a year so I thought it was fitting to share a picture that she didn't really want to see in response to her sending me a picture that I didn't really want to see.  I'm probably a jerk. :)

Friday, February 20, 2015

Infertility and god

I figured that since I took on the Pope in my last blog post that I would pull my post about god and religion and god out of the draft folder.

I've always wrestled with the concept of god.  I didn't grow up in a religious family.  I've never really been religious as an adult.  I married a man who isn't religious.  I haven't stepped foot in a church for purposes other than a wedding or a funeral in over a decade.  I have a difficult time wrapping my head around things like prayer and the whole 'relationship with Jesus' thing that evangelicals preach.  The idea of a higher power that as control over my life is just something that I can't believe.

My teenage years were where I really started to question the idea of god.  This was the first time I asked the "why do bad things happen to good people?' question.  I concluded then that there couldn't possibly be a god, or at least if there was he had no bearing on or control over what things happened to people.  Infertility only strengthened my belief that there is no god.

So that brings me to those people who say that the fact that we weren't able to have children is god's will or it happens in god's time or whatever.  It implies that I'm not good enough or worthy enough to have a child.  Using that logic those addicted to drugs, teenagers, and those with five kids by five different men are more worthy than I am.  No.  Those people were all just lucky enough to have their biological functions work properly.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that I might not believe in god or participate in organized religion, but I try to be a good person.  I try to do the right things.  I'm a good person because it's the right thing to do, not because some god or religion wants me to be.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Grappling with mortality

I found out today that a friend from college passed away as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident on Saturday evening.  We weren't good friends and we haven't spoken in the nearly 12 years since we graduated from college (with the exception of a Facebook comment here and there).  Now I guess we'll never get that opportunity to catch up.

She was young.  She was vibrant.  She had so much life left to live.  And now she's gone.

I guess this is a sobering reminder for me that we don't know how much time that we have left with our loved ones.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Are you kidding me?

I woke up just before 4am and couldn't go back to sleep.  So I made a pot of coffee and settled in to read the news where I found this gem.

I'm not Catholic.  I'm not even religious.  I do like a lot of what Pope Francis has to say (e.g, preaches a message of social justice).  But I find his most recent comments to be very insulting (and I fully acknowledge that these comments are addressed to those who choose not to have children).

Here are my thoughts in order:

  1. A (presumably) celibate, single guy wants us to take reproductive advice from him.  LOL.
  2. Choosing not to have kids is not selfish or narcissistic.  It's a valid choice and those people deserve to be supported.
  3. The Catholic church puts those with infertility in quite the bind.  They think that people should have a bunch of kids while simultaneously admonishing anything that helps a couple get pregnant.  
  4. Based on my childfree (I really hate this word!) status I feel unwelcome in the Catholic church.  Because, if you really want to get technical, hubs and I did choose not to have children.  We carefully considered all of the options available to us and decided not to proceed with any of the options, thereby choosing not to have children.  
  5. Having kids costs money.  A lot of it.  How does he propose that people, particularly those who live in countries with high unemployment rates, support these children?   
I know I could go on and on about this but I think I'll stop here.  This really fired me up.....

Saturday, February 7, 2015

I have a new niece

She was born via emergency c-section around noon yesterday.  She is perfect.  My sister is doing great.  My nephew is enamored by his baby sister.  My brother-in-law is still an asshole.

Me?  Yesterday was tough.  Really tough.  I knew it would hit me hard but I was woefully unprepared for the intensity of the emotions.  Today is a little bit better.  Tomorrow will be better than today.

We're not going to drive over and meet the baby this weekend.  We aren't to a point where we can put a smile on our faces and pretend like everything is ok.  Maybe next weekend or the weekend after.  It's ok for us to put our emotional health and wellbeing first.

Friday, February 6, 2015

A bit of faith in humanity restored

Despite being so busy that I haven't known if I was coming or going for most of the week, two things happened this week that restored a bit of my faith in humanity.

First, I finally went to see the doctor about the period/clots/hot flashes/not sleeping issues that I've been having.  Well, technically, I see a midwife in a large university research hospital based practice (I set myself up with this practice when we moved to our city because would have preferred to give birth with a midwife attending-LOL...that worked out well for me).  All of the midwifes in the practice hold academic or research appointments so I'm confident in their knowledge and skill set and for the most part I've been ok with the treatment that I have received from them.  I've had some bad experiences with doctors in the past so finding a practice that doesn't suck on the first try was a huge bonus.  Anyway, for the first time ever I saw a medical practitioner about female issues that didn't downplay or write off my concerns.  She even inquired about the emotional impact of choosing to not pursue treatment/making the choice to not have children.  It was really nice to be treated like an intelligent human being by a medical practitioner.  And she got my sense of humor!  She ordered a bunch of blood tests and an ultrasound to check for polyps and fibroids so once all of that comes back we'll have a firm action plan.  Right now it looks like I'll be getting an IUD that releases a bit of progestin into my system and that should make my periods manageable (if not eliminate them all together!).  If I have polyps and/or fibroids those will need to be removed before the IUD.  The irony of most likely getting a long-term birth control device installed in my uterus is not lost on me.

Second, I had a conversation about infertility with a woman that I work with and she responded in the most perfect way possible.  I wish every person would respond with such empathy and understanding.  She even acknowledged how hard the past year must have been for me with all of the pregnant people at work (something like 8 babies have been born in the past calendar year) and how uncomfortable it must to be asked on a regular basis when I'm going to have a baby.  I wish that everybody could respond (to all of us) with the grace that she responded to me.

So a little bit of my faith in humanity has been restored.  Doctors that don't write me off give me the confidence to be vocal about the issues that I'm having and to advocate for my medical care.  Positive responses to sharing about infertility give me the confidence to keep sharing.  

Monday, February 2, 2015

Doing taxes

I did our taxes last night.  Our taxes are relatively simple and there are online programs that make filing nearly idiot proof.  The whole process took under an hour.  But I didn't expect to be reminded of my childless state while doing taxes.

The software asks all kinds of questions about things that happened in the previous year?  Did you buy a house?  Did you buy an energy efficient car?  Did you contribute to a retirement account?  Did you pay student loan interest?  I was cruising right along until.... Do you have any dependents to claim on your 2014 taxes?  I quickly checked 'no' and moved on to the next question.  Did you give birth to or adopt a child in 2014?  No.  No I didn't.  In fact I gave up on ever having kids in 2014.  Can I get a deduction for that?

After a (big) glass of wine I was able to laugh at the absurdity of being reminded of my infertility while doing taxes.  Luckily we don't owe anything more than what we already paid so that was a huge bonus.  I don't want to talk about our effective tax rate nor how much it would have helped us out to have a $3700 dependent deduction or two though because it will just piss me off.