Category Archives: Adoption

Don’t say this . . . please

A long time ago I wrote a blog entry about the things you shouldn’t say to a family in the process of adopting. One of those things was, “Once you start the adoption, you’ll get pregnant.” That was said to me by many, many people, and it made my blood boil every time. The act of a sperm and egg uniting to create what will, in 9 months, be a breathing, crying, squirming human HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH a legal proceeding to adopt a child. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Now I’m pregnant. I’m getting the same comment with a different spin on it. I keep hearing this, “This happens so often. A couple adopts and then all of a sudden they are pregnant. It’s so common.”

Bullshit.

I know of exactly one couple who had this experience. They struggled for years with infertility and just before they were to board a plane to meet their child, they found out they were pregnant. One family. I know a lot of people who’ve adopted, a lot of people who’ve had children with whom they share biology, and a lot of people who’ve contemplated adoption and ultimately had biological children. One family.

 

When I tell people that the two things have no relationship, the answer is often something like this: “When you give up on the idea of having a biological child, the stress is gone and then your body is ready to have that baby.”

Ask any parent who has gone through an adoption whether the experience has been stressful. The answer will be, unequivocally, yes. You have tons of paperwork to file, background checks to complete, passports and visas to obtain, and approvals to receive. Your house is examined. Your background is examined. Your house is examined. You have to figure out where you are going to find $25,000 – $50,000 dollars. You have to realize that you are going to be doing the hurry-up-and-wait game over and over for at least 18 months, if not a few years. It’s definitely no walk in the park. It’s not easy. It’s not fun. Sex is fun. The waiting between the sex and the pregnancy test isn’t, but seriously, trying to compare the stress of the two ways to build your family really isn’t fair. (Obviously I’m not talking about IVF here; just  your “standard” reproduction.)

I guess people assume that we just decided to adopt again and poof! this baby happened. That’s not true. I pretty much gave up on the idea that my body was capable of producing a child 5 years ago, not in the fall of 2015. (More about this in an upcoming blog.) I was super stressed about the idea of coming up with money for a second adoption, and about how long it would take. So this idea that because we decided to adopt, we got pregnant, is nonsense.

The bottom line here is this: if you know of someone who is contemplating adoption, find something else to say to them other than “If you just decide to adopt, you’ll get pregnant.” And if you know of a pregnant women (or soon-to-be-dad) who contemplated adoption or adopted a child, don’t say anything like, “See? You just needed to adopt a kid so you could have a baby.” Either way, it’s not a welcome sentiment. Simply encourage or congratulate the couple and then move on to a topic like how ridiculous Donald Trump’s hair is.

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Baby, oh baby!

That got your attention, especially if you know me in real life, or if you have read the older entries on this blog. So now that I have you . . .

It seems like everyone I know is pregnant. Heck, if one of my male friends were to tell me they were pregnant next, it would seem like par for the course. I’m not kidding, either. In the past 3 months alone (I won’t count the whole year; that’s too crazy) we’ve had 6 friends give birth. Another 7 are currently pregnant. I can’t keep track of who is due when and whether they are having a boy, girl or the spawn of Satan. (I’m pretty sure no one is having the latter, but I know some other folks who would swear they did!)

I am so happy for all 13 of these families. I swear I am. But it’s more like “I’m so happy for you that I’m stupid green with envy and if you turn your back for a minute when I’m holding your darling offspring, I may consider heading for the border.”

Not really. But kinda.

What makes all of this massive human population growth especially hard to take is that just about all of these parents say this to me – especially when I’m holding their child in my arms – “so are you guys going to have another?” They say it in an excited, expectant way. I know no harm is meant by it. I know they are so in love with their tiny human, and they are hoping that we are going to answer with positive news. But I loathe this question.

IMG_6096Take a look at this cheeseball. He looks nothing like me, right? Right. This little bun did not come out of this oven.

Let me interrupt myself to say this. Keep this in mind as you read this blog entry.  I LOVE MY SON. I cannot believe how much I love him. When people tell you they would do anything for their child, they mean it. I would do anything. If someone were to try to hurt him, I would rip their face off with my bare hands. People will say to me, “I don’t know if I can love a child that isn’t biologically mine as much as one that is.” I tell you that I worry about the opposite. Could I love a child that is biologically mine as much as I love this little stinker? He is just the best. Honestly. I need to do a blog entry to update you on his progress and to profess my massive love for him.

Anyway, when people ask me if we’re going to “have another”, I am not sure if they are forgetting that we didn’t “have” Little Dude, or if I am just getting picky on the semantics. But I do think people may have forgotten how ridiculously hard it was for us to bring him into our family. We had a horrible, horrible adoption process and thought we were going to lose him several times. (In fact, for a while, we thought he was dead. Gut-wrenching.) So when I’m asked this question, I always inwardly sigh.

Oh, I wish. How I wish.

For us, bringing another child into our family is difficult. We either need to pursue another adoption or try IVF. Whether the adoption is domestic or international (and we would almost certainly choose international), it’s expensive, long, and sometimes difficult (though in varying degrees.) If we choose IVF, we have no guarantee it would work. I have never discussed my specific infertility problems on this blog, but will do so in the future since I’m learning that there are a lot of women out there who need to know that they are not alone. We could sink lots of money into the process only to suffer through failed attempt after failed attempt, or (worse) multiple miscarriages. Yes, it could be successful, but without a crystal ball, it’s hard to know.

The bottom line is that either route we choose is hella expensive. When the majority of you consider having babies, you think about the added cost to your ongoing family budget in diapers, formula/food, clothes, toys, braces, prom dresses, cars, and college funds. We don’t even get to consider that long term financial cost for a while because we have to figure out how to afford bringing that child into our family in the first place.

The average cost per attempt for IVF is $12,000 – $15,000. There are shared-risk programs (like the one we would apply for if we chose IVF) that offer you a 100% refund if you do not deliver a [live] baby. You don’t truly get 100% of your money back because you don’t get a refund for the medications, but it’s the bulk of your money. It’s not a perfect solution, though. They can drop you if they don’t think you are a good candidate. And getting your money back doesn’t make up for the fact that you still have no baby in your arms. And IVF ain’t easy on a wanna-be-mama, either.

Private domestic adoptions and international adoptions are puh-ricey. Some agencies will tell you they can get you through the process for $20,000 – $25,000. Maybe that is true, but I highly doubt it. I say that because it’s what we were told and that is not what we spent. We did have extenuating circumstances, but I honestly don’t think the quoted amount is accurate because our agency sucked and didn’t do their job properly. Had they done so, their baseline fees would have been higher. (Yet another post for another day.) Google results show that domestic and international adoptions are ranging from about $30,000 – $50,000, depending on the country one chooses (for the higher end of that range).

I swear some of the women I know get pregnant if their husband is in a 6′ radius of them for too long, and they don’t seem to have any idea of what an emotional struggle infertility is. Some will tell me that they had “so much trouble getting pregnant”, but honestly, trying for less than a year isn’t an unusually long struggle. I’ve had women tell me that they had given up hope after just a few months of trying and then – wowza! – they got pregnant. It is significantly different than going through month after month of trying, like some women I know. Gosh, I know women who have tried for years and can’t get pregnant. Years!

I know a couple of women right now who are struggling with infertility while the rest of the world is seemingly birthing healthy babies right and left. I can identify with them, and my heart hurts for them. It is an absolutely gut-wrenching, heart-breaking time in a couple’s life. I pray that they are able to, in some manner, bring happy little babies into their families.

So the answer to that question I’m asked all the time? We want to. We really, really want to. I’d love to have another boy and a girl. Three kids seems like it would be perfect for us. Well, I guess that would bring our total to 4 if you count the dog. He’s just like a toddler anyway, so I count him. I hope that we will be able to do so someday. I feel like I want to start a GoFundMe page to try to raise the money we need to expand our family!

 

 

 

I thought we were past this

As you know – or should know by now – are family is a little different. S is Asian. I am white. (And I’m tragically white too. I absolutely fry in the sun. I have no rhythm. I can’t dance.) Little Dude is Ethiopian. Our dog is a rescued pit bull, and need I say anything about the misconception of that breed? I think not.

I’m not quite sure how you can look at the three of us humans together and not figure out that our son does not share our biology. Yet, repeatedly we encounter people who look from me to S to Little Dude to me to S to Little Dude . . . . and then say that they see a resemblance in ________. For some reason these folks are trying too hard. I’m not sure why. It’s just stupid. If you’re my cashier at AC Moore’s, you really don’t have to comment on how my family looks. You can just greet me, ring up my items, tell me how much I owe you, and bid me adieu. You don’t need to stare at us and make yourself look ridiculous.

I’m used to stuff like this from complete strangers, though. People at Giant or the park have a way of saying things that don’t make sense or hurt, and I will never understand that. What I’m not used to, though, is similar statements from people who are not strangers.

Over the weekend I was with some people I don’t know all that well. I was dressed fairly nicely in shorts and a fitted tank top. I had run a combination of 30 miles in about 28 hours, and hadn’t taken in enough calories or water to replenish what I spent. My weight was down a pound or two because of this, though this difference wouldn’t be visible to anyone other than me.

I was mingling with people when a woman looked at me and said, “So are you . . . ?” She didn’t say the word, but she made the motion of a very big pregnant belly. Shocked, I said no. I guess she thought I didn’t understand her, because she repeated the entire sequence, this time with a very animated face. Again, I was dumbfounded. My son was standing right beside me, so I said to her, “I didn’t even give birth to him, so, um, no.” I didn’t have a good response in my back pocket, so that’s what I came up with. Her response was, “OK. But you are trying, right?”

What. The. Huh?

I told her, quickly and quietly, “No, because I can’t.” I then walked away.

First, did I look especially big this weekend? Do I look like I am several months with child? Because you really shouldn’t ask a woman if she’s pregnant if she doesn’t look damned near close to dropping that child on your kitchen floor if she sneezes. I might have 2 pounds around my belly that could go, and I might have some body image issues, but I know for a fact that I do not look like I have a bun in the oven. So strike 1.

Second, let’s look at my family composition again. White mama and Asian daddy does not equal African child. There is pretty much no recessive gene that is going to make that happen. This person knows enough about our family to know how Little Dude came to our family. I’m not sure how it seemed appropriate to delve into my reproductive system right then and there. How does one look at a couple in their mid and late 30’s who have only one (adopted) child and think that they might not have had fertility issues? How could that fact not cross their mind? Again, this is not someone who we encountered for only 2 minutes. This is someone who knows how Little Dude came to our family. Strike 2.

Finally, one should never, ever badger a woman (or a man, for that matter) about whether they are having babies. It just shouldn’t be done unless you have a good rapport with that person. Even then, be careful about the words you use. Don’t assume they want kids. Don’t assume they can have kids. Don’t assume that they haven’t been through an emotional roller coaster. Don’t assume that your question won’t upset them. Strike 3.

I know it seems like an innocent enough question, but so many people struggle to have children. If you aren’t one of those people, count your lucky stars. I know so many women – so many – who have had miscarriages. I know so many couples who have tried for months or years to conceive naturally and couldn’t. I know so many couples who tried fertility medications and assisted fertility procedures and experienced terrible heartache. I know couples who have spent all of their own money trying to conceive or to adopt, and have incurred significant debt. I know people who have completely given up on becoming parents because they didn’t have enough money to try IVF or adoption.

Oh – and my other favorite comment was made within the same hour. Another person looked at me and said, “You know, Little Dude would really like a little brother or sister!” My comment, which has never been said aloud, is “I know. Would you like to give me the $20K+ I need to make that happen?” (Speaking this statement aloud is totally on my bucket list, by the way.)

I honestly thought that all of this stuff would stop after we brought our first child into our family. I figured people would be able to look at my family and draw some reasonable conclusions about what led us to form our family in such a way. I guess I was wrong. S tells me I’m just going to have to suck it up and deal with this. He says that people think we were “just being nice” when we adopted Little Dude. “Just being nice.” Let’s not even talk about that one. I feel like I ought to be able to fix people, and get them to think a little. I know I’m nuts, but I just wish.

Musings of a canine blogger

Finally! This iPad was left unattended long enough for me to post to this blog. It has been a long time since I have posted. Remember – I lack opposable thumbs, so please forgive any spelling errors. And The Woman Who Feeds Me (hereafter referenced as TWWFM) seems to have hidden my thesaurus so my vocabulary might not be as robust as I would like. C’est la vie.

You seem surprised I know some French.

A few months ago TWWFM and TMWFM (come on, you’re smart enough to figure that one out) brought me a little person to take care of. He was really tiny and made funny noises, but I liked him right away. Usually they just get me bones and treats for Christmas, but this time they got me my own person!

At first he didn’t do a whole lot except lay on the floor and sometimes roll around. I would give him kisses but he didn’t seem to care. I knew that I needed to grow up and settle down a bit so I could take care of him, so I did. People came to visit and said I had changed. I was pleased that they noticed. I worked very hard.

As the little guy started getting bigger, he started to notice me. He would pet me and let me give him kisses. Much to the People Who Feed Me’s chagrin, his first word was “duh” – with an emphatic finger pointed at me. He still doesn’t say “mama” but says “duh” all the time.

We are best buddies. He likes to pull my tail, and I let him. In exchange he lets me give him lots and lots of kisses. Now that he can crawl, and is starting to walk, he chases me all over the place. He laughs that funny little belly laugh a lot too. Sometimes I wonder if he is laughing AT me, but I try not to dwell on that. I don’t want to develop some sort of a complex; I can’t even imagine how much dog therapy would cost.

Tonight we played a really fun game. TWWFM was helping him walk. I would run right at him, kiss him really quickly, and then turn around and run away. The little one absolutely howled with laughter. It was awesome. I cannot wait to play that game again!

You know, adoption is pretty cool. Without it, the people who own this house would be awfully lonely, bored, and most definitely would not be covered in drool. FYI – drool is a sign of love.