The Adoption Has Officially Begun

I feel like The Adoption needs to be in all caps. We are really truly officially off the ground and, if not running, at least moving along at a decent clip.

Strange to suddenly be IN this, instead of studying it and soaking up a lot of information. For those who kinda’ know the buzzwords, we’re at the front end of our home study. Home studies can take months; we expect ours to take maybe two, max. Thankfully, we found a home study provider who is local and *not* three months behind, as can sometimes be the case.

If it takes six months, though, that’s how long it takes. We know the end of all this will mean our family includes a child, so we’re not married to a specific timeline.

1977134004_fcbe79ff1d_oThere’s a LOT of gathering of paperwork involved in this part of the process. All the documentation that proves we are who we say we are – birth certs, marriage certs, proof of residency, income, etc… Most of it has to go back ten years and some of it we’ll have to get from family members. Mom, Dad, expect a call.

We had the profound good fortune of being recommended an adoption “coordinator” who has already been an incredible help in organizing our process and directing us as to best practices and possible road blocks. This whole thing felt huge and un-manageable in December and now it feels huge and totally manageable.

Guys. This time next year we could have a kid. That. Is. CRAZY.

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New Year, Old Me

I like the clarity a new year promotes – an opportunity to look ahead and say “here’s what I would like this year to look like.” (For me) it’s difficult to separate everyday happenings from my perspective and have that kind of regular foresight into my future. So I enjoy the opportunity to think about resolutions but more generally, I like the chance to consider what part I might play in shaping the next year of my life.

2015 resolution | from sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.com

Since this blog has been around for a while, I thought I’d review previous years’ posts.

2014 –  “rules” for 2014, which are interesting to look back on now that I’ve quit my job and wholly embraced my introvert tendencies

2013 – I listed three “classical” resolutions then four things that were realistic accomplishments for the year. Interestingly, the four “realistic” things really happened.

2012 – all about school. It was the year of the Comp Exam and my mind was firmly fixed on getting that degree done.

2011 – No real post. I think that year was just kind of a “survive” kinda year.

2010 – difficult to review because it was a recap of 2009 and ended up being almost a letter to my future self. We had a rough year in 2009.

2009 – I might actually recycle most of 2009’s resolution list. I kind of love reading posts from this time. It was before the Ectopic (note the capital E) which, in retrospect, significantly changed my outlook on my entire life. Interesting that it’s taken six years to get back to the same kind of mental space…

I’ve got a one-word resolution for 2015. I plan on using it as my north star, as a way to make decisions, overcome obstacles, and let go of the things that plague me in the wee hours of the morning.

parent | from sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.com

The word is PARENT.

I want to see the close of 2015 with Hubs and I as parents. Whether we are parenting foster kids, adopted kids, or miracle babies, PARENT is the name of the game this year. It’s been a terrible long road and I expect it will continue to be incredibly difficult. But that’s my goal, that’s my guiding principle, and that’s the thing I’m going to spend emotion on. I’m going positive, full-bore, meaningful.

Wish me luck. I’ll keep you posted.

On Barrenness and Priorities

barrenness and priorities | a post from sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.com

I’ve upped my intake of reading materials from folks who are dealing with infertility, medical interventions, and adoption. Hubs calls this “Matrixing” – essentially collecting a huge amount of information in a very short amount of time.

Certainly I’ve also spent a lot of time reading fact-based information, reports from private, non-profit, and government entities on the trifecta mentioned above. This is good info, and it rarely includes any information about what it’s like to start down the road of “alternate methods” of having a family of more than two.

So I’m just thinking out loud, here, sharing my own story of what it’s like to be looking at this from our unique perspective. Everyone’s story is different; I’ve gained a lot from reading about the paths others have taken, from their stories. Here’s a bit about mine (ours) at the moment.

barrenness and priorities | a post from sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.com
from sharecare.com (click for the full infographic)

Recently I read an illuminating post by Hannah Bunker, where she details the related yet distinct challenges of barrenness vs. childlessness. Barrenness is a physical inability to bear children. Bunker’s point, a meaningful one for me, is that no matter how you end up with children, this physical inability has deep-seated emotional weight. It’s the body failing at one of its basic functions.

Medical interventions sometimes allay infertility, but not completely. IVF for infertility is akin to insulin treatment for diabetes; it addresses the symptoms but not the body’s failure to do what it’s meant to do. And infertility treatments often fail; Bunker is speaking to the distinction between a body that is medically infertile or unable to conceive/be pregnant naturally (where medical interventions help) and a body that is barren, unable to bear offspring at all, under any circumstances (where medical interventions are useless).

Adoptive families speak to the distinction of “being pregnant” and “having kids” when they discuss adoption, post-adoption, and how adoption experiences intersect with infertility struggles. The same theme occurs everywhere: “I have no words for how incredibly grateful I am that we are no longer childless. AND there will never be a day that I do not grieve my inability to bear children.”

barrenness and priorities | a post from sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.com
from msw.usc.edu (click for the full infographic)

This thought, repeated over and over again in the first-hand accounts I’ve read, resonates deeply with me and our situation. Since last summer Hubs and I have spent a lot of time in thought and discussion regarding our childlessness. We both want kids and we both want a pregnancy. Separating those two wants was a huge part of our discussions in 2013 – we knew they were distinct yet related priorities.

It was difficult. We struggled (still struggle) with how to prioritize those wants. We had to (have to) separate a lifetime of thinking of those things – being pregnant and having kids – as the same thing.

I say prioritize because that’s another piece of the landscape that I’ve read about over and over again – the ways folks prioritize the “having kids” and “being pregnant” goals. Adoption meets the “having kids” need. Medical intervention meets the “being pregnant” need.

I’ve only encountered a handful of folks who are only concerned with having kids (ie: adoption only). I have yet to read a blog, article, or comments by someone who is only interested in “pregnancy” (ie: surrogacy, I guess?). The point I’m trying to make is that we are not alone in struggling to separate the two things as we plan for the future. I suppose this is why defining priorities, as hard as it is, becomes useful.

There are those who can’t or won’t participate in medical interventions; they tend to start with adoption. Most, though, seem to begin dealing with infertility via medical intervention (MI). For a lucky bunch, MI works swiftly and well and thus meets the needs for both “being pregnant” and “having kids”. Everyone entering the realm of alternative family-making hopes this is them. For many it’s not.

barrenness and priorities | a post from sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.com
from thelondonwomensclinic.com (click for full infographic)

If “being pregnant” is the priority, working through multiple rounds of MI is often the story. These folks may never move to adoption. For them, having kids is absolutely linked to being pregnant. Here there are considerations like what type of MI treatment to start with (shots, IUI, IVF), self or donated eggs/sperm, how often to try, when to stop.

And for some, having kids is synonymous with passing on genes. That’s another part of the priorities equation that shapes decisions. This one adds surrogacy to the many MI decisions that must be made.

Those who prioritize “having kids” tend to end up adopting, eventually. Medical intervention is only a means to an end for the “having kids” crowd. So if MI doesn’t work (and it often doesn’t) those folks explore other ways to have kids. Adoption involves considerations like domestic or international, ethnicity, age, gender, sibling groups (?), health issues, etc…

barrenness and priorities | a post from sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.com
from adoptuskids.org (click for full infographic)

Ultimately, all these groups want a family. It’s the path they take to get there (directed by their priorities) that dictates what decisions they will make and how their experiences differ.

There’s another priority, of course, that doesn’t often get mentioned in the anecdotal world – that of mental health and the well-being of a couple’s relationship as they move through the “alt family” landscape. All alternative processes take a huge toll on those who experience them. Financial, mental, emotional well-being are all challenged and affected. “Well-being” as a priority almost always includes decisions about boundaries, about how much is too much, about when to stop.

Sometimes it includes the decision to accept childlessness.

This part of the process doesn’t get mentioned for a reason. It’s the scariest, the most lonely, the most terrifying outcome of all when starting down the “alt family” road. A finite, life-long NO KIDS, after weathering the storm of every possible alternative to having kids, is intensely frightening.

But after watching (and reading about) so many folks wrecking themselves on the “kids no matter what” priority, childlessness isn’t quite as scary as it once was for us. Decades filled with emotional turmoil, financial instability, and sheer desperation doesn’t seem like a great option.

barrenness and priorities | a post from sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.com
from norke.be (click to go to the artist’s site)

It’s a lot to consider. We’ve talked and talked, marinated, investigated, ruminated, explored, probed, questioned. There have been a few hard conversations, some frightening realizations. And we’re at a point where our priorities are straight. We have a map.

Time to start moving.