Stop. Don’t read any further unless you can accept that our child – who we expect to come to us through domestic open adoption – will be our own kid. M. will be our son or daughter’s real dad and I will be our son or daughter’s real mom. And by the way, our child’s birthparents will also be her or his real parents.
We came to adoption down a long and bumpy road (although, I have learned, not as bumpy as most). M. and I are both “late bloomers,” and didn’t know ourselves well enough to commit to a life partnership until well into our thirties. Of course, before we were married, we talked about our plans for the future, and we agreed that we wanted them to include children. We also agreed that while it would be nice to just enjoy our adventures as a couple before buckling down to parenthood, we (well, me especially) heard the old biological clock ticking.
We were married in November 2004 when I was 35, and I knew enough about physiology not to assume I would get pregnant as soon as we were ready to staring trying. So, shortly thereafter I began to make plans to try to get and stay pregnant (you know, eating right, medical exam, vaccine update, etc.), and a few months later we began a new time in our life: trying to conceive - TTC, for those in the know.
I wasn’t surprised when I wasn’t pregnant after the first month of unprotected sex. Or even the second…or fifth. By the ninth month with not even a "glimmer," even after more deliberate “trying,” I made an appointment with my doctor at Kaiser, who referred me to their infertility clinic. That was weird.
To enroll in the infertility program at Kaiser, you and your partner must first go to a class where they provide very basic information about conception and all of the things that can prevent it. M. and I sheepishly showed up (scorning the directional signs that said “infertility” along the way. I mean, common! Couldn’t they throw us a bone and call it “fertility” class instead?) It was the first time we sat in a room with other people struggling to build their family. I was struck by how diverse the group was, in terms of age, ethnicity, and apparent education. That was reassuring.
I could ramble on now for quite awhile – and perhaps I will at some point – about the medical “assistance” we got from there. We both have mixed feelings about it. Long story short: after four IUI’s (including two that were “medicated” e.g. shots in the arse), we flunked out of Kaiser’s program. They suggested that our problems may be due to “low ovarian reserve” (that was tough news), and counseled that our options were: to live childfree; to pursue the much more invasive – and expensive - route of in vitro fertilization (IVF), particularly with donor egg, since mine seem to be cooked; or adoption.
We felt like we’d reached an important fork in our road. As is our way, we began to research. We read books and articles, talked with a few people, and explored some pretty strange corners of the internet. There was even a time when I was fantasizing about an IVF “vacation” in Thailand, were babies could be made more inexpensively, all while getting a tan.
Anyway, the more we investigated and searched our souls, the more comfortable we felt with the losses of infertility and closing the door to a biological child, and the more comfortable we became with adoption. Conversely, the more we learned about IVF, the more uncomfortable we became with it.
We went to an adoption conference sponsored by RESOLVE, the national infertility group. They had guest speakers representing all parts of the “adoption triad” – adoptive parents, a birthmother, and a young woman who was adopted as a baby – and they were really helpful to hear. During the breaks we could wander around to the various booths of different attorneys and agencies and such and gather more info. I had already been reading some about open adoption, and so I was particularly interested in getting more info on that.
We came back and read, and thought, and talked some more. We realized that with adoption, if we stuck with it, we would certainly become parents...we just wouldn’t know when. On the other hand, with further treatment, we could invest many more hours, and dollars, and tears without any assurance of achieving our “goal.”
We were convinced: we would love a child, however s/he comes to us. So, adoption was the best path for us. The day I put the enrollment packet and a big check in the mail to our agency, I was giddy. I think that was the closest I will ever be to what it feels like to get a positive on a home pregnancy test.
I became an expectant mother.