Category Archives: Adoption

It’s not Always a “Choice”

This is going to be another one of those pieces where I hope it generates a productive conversation that leads to progress rather than take offense. It’s not that I care if I unintentionally upset people. I care more about being able to create positive change.
Each of our infertility stories is unique and different. No two infertility stories are exactly the same. With the reproduction of two or more people required to create a fetus leading up to 40+ weeks of gestation there are so many factors in each situation that could go wrong. Even when a diagnosis is the same for an infertile female in a couple you still have the male factor with many different possible reasons for lack of conception or potential for miscarriage. Also you have the being able to afford treatment factor. In taking a hard look at this, the options available for one couple might not be available for another couple when it comes to a couple either conceiving a child or third party reproduction.  In some cases there are no options to become a parent through some type of scientific intervention.
When it comes to becoming a parent via non biological or other scientific ways the ability to do so can vary as well. Depending upon where a person lives, their financial status and other personal circumstances (health, marital status, etc.) the ability to to become a parent via adopting isn’t available for every couple or person. For instance depending upon where a person/couple lives and what the laws are for adopting they maybe disqualified from adopting. You could also be in a financial situation where you are unable to afford the costs to adopt and lack the ability to raise funds to adopt. Lastly you could be disqualified from adopting due to a health condition you have.  In some cases a person/couple may not be able to adopt.
When you add in all of that the conclusion reached is that not everyone will be able to become a parent. I say this because personally I’ve been told by others that it’s my choice to be childless and there are options I’m choosing not to go through. They say this without knowing our full story. There are so many other factors in our story that I haven’t disclosed that are personal to us. I’ve also seen other people be told that if they want to become parents they shouldn’t give up in finding a way to become parents.  That is completely unfair to assume unless you know the person/couple’s entire story.
People mean well when they ask those going through infertility if they’ve considered adoption or tried a certain treatment.  If a person is curious about what the couple/person has tried instead they can ask what their options are. It’s a more broad question that gives the person going through infertility the ability to have control of the conversation. They may have options they are pursuing or may have exhausted all options. The only way to know is ask rather than go to one specific option that either worked for you or someone you know.
My point is infertility and our ability to become parents is extremely complicated.  We should recognize that we all have circumstances that give each couple different options. In some cases a person/couple may choose to pass on their options but in other cases the circumstances may take away any option a person/couple has to become a parent. We can’t assume that a person/couple is choosing to be childless unless we know their whole story.
I say all of this not to be bitter for those who have been able to become parents after infertility. I am grateful that people have been able to become parents because it gives those going through infertility hope that they one day can become parents.  It gives me hope that future generations don’t have to go through what so many of us have dealt with.  I say this to help others better connect with those going through infertility and those who never become parents.  Hopefully this piece can help us better communicate with one another.

Expecting & Parenting after IF and how to support others 

My intention for this post is to hope it helps the community as a whole to support each other and avoid unintentional hurt feelings. Recently I’ve noticed a few members of the community who recently became pregnant or who gave birth ignoring me not responding to me or interacting with me. Though we all start in the same place and some end in the same place how we get there is different and not everyone ends in the same place. Also there are times we’ll be in the same place and others we aren’t. You get the point, it’s complicated.
The hardest thing for us to navigate at times is when a member of the infertility community becomes pregnant or gives birth while others are either still TTC, taking a break, pursuing adopting, a parent via adoption or living childless/free. It’s awkward and no one knows exactly how to interact and support the other. For the expecting parent/parent they may want to protect themselves by avoiding the trauma of being in the trenches and fearing going back to that place. On the other side those in the trenches may avoid those who are expecting or are parents because it hurts them. None of us intend to hurt one another we just don’t know how to navigate this crap.  It takes a village to get through it.

Below I’ve put together some tips/things a to keep in mind for expecting parents and parents on how to support and maintain relationships with those still in the trenches, taking a break, pursuing adopting, parent via adoption or living childless/free. Please don’t hesitate to provide your feedback no matter where you’re at. Dialogue is so important to achieve progress.  Above all communicating and being honest with each other is the best we can do.

1) Please don’t tell us to give up or that miracles can happen. Nothing makes us feel worse when we are told to keep trying when we maybe at our wits end or feel like we may have stopped too soon. We already blame ourselves as it is and think we’re doing something wrong.

2) Your pregnancy/birth has nothing to do with our situation. What worked for you won’t work for everyone or even another person. Our bodies are all different and add in our partners or donors and it’s even more complex to achieve conception.

3) Don’t forget about us. We understand you may need to take a break and enjoy the next chapter of your lives and not live in the community all the time. We understand you have new responsibilities and your life has changed. But we are still here and value our friendship. We aren’t lepors either. Talking to us won’t bring bad luck upon you. When you forget about us it can feel like being left to go hang out with the cool kids.

4) We aren’t upset with you for getting pregnant or becoming a parent. Going back to #2 you getting pregnant or becoming a parent has nothing to do with our situation. It maybe a reminder of what we aren’t able to achieve but it’s not preventing us from achieving what you were able to. There isn’t a baby quota the infertility gods have where only so many babies are born and you having your baby prevents us from having one.

5) Be with us instead of trying to fix things for us. We know you mean well. We know you’re rooting for us. But we aren’t looking for you to tell us that it will all work out or that we’ll become parents. Unfortunately no one knows that. If you want to help and we’re hurting tell us you are there to listen.  

6) Celebrate our non TTC accomplishments. If we have something great in our lives that’s non TTC related celebrate with us but realize it doesn’t fill the void.

7) We can talk about non TTC topics. We all have and had lives outside of having kids before all this. We may have even shared common interests. If you’re uncomfortable talking about babies or treatments go that route to stay in touch.

8) If we move on to adopting, donor conception or childless/free life respect our decision to move on. Please don’t judge us. Not all of our journeys are going to end the same way. Also, it’s not going to feel the same way it felt for you becoming a parent. There is a whole level of complexity added even if we become parents. Though there are some common themes of parenting. If we don’t there’s a child void in our life that will never be filled. Also don’t assume that a person can be happy without children if you have children. Yes, those without children can be happy but please don’t assume something you don’t have personal experience with. It’s like us assuming you are happy as a parent and never hurt.

9) We are happy for you and your family. Even if we mute you on Social Media, keep our distance or disappear for a bit it’s just us protecting ourselves. It’s not you or us just the situation.

10) We care for you and are here for you too. We recognize being pregnant or a parent isn’t easy especially if it comes after previous losses. We know you are grateful. We know you wouldn’t trade places with us. Heck we wouldn’t trade if roles were reversed. So don’t hesitate to reach out for support when you have morning sickness, a baby who won’t sleep or a spouse who isn’t supporting you. If we were in your shoes we’d feel the same way and need support.

One year Blogiversary

It was one year ago today that I made my first blog post. Though I didn’t start blogging that much until around Father’s Day last year when I began writing blog posts on a regular basis. I think about where I was at when I wrote that post and how much I hurt and how ignorant I was. I think about how hard it was for me to cope and how dark things were. It was a scary place, a place that I don’t wish anyone should have to go through.

One year later I wouldn’t say I’ve done a 180 but I’m in a much better place than I was one year ago both personally and in my marriage. Though our situation regarding having children has not changed, I’ve learned to cope with things better. It’s interesting right now I’m at a work conference where I’m meeting new people getting the do you have kids questions and whereas last year I would have said no and had it trigger me, I’m now saying “We aren’t able to have kids”. Those questions aren’t as triggering but they still leave me left out of conversations making it hard to engage in those discussions. The point is my perspective has changed but to a certain extent I recognize that I’ll always hurt no matter how K and I proceed.

I’m not sure where we are heading. Because of everything we have going on in our lives it’s not the right time to make that decision. Though with my 34 birthday less than 3 months away (entering my mid 30’s), I know that we’ll have to make a decision about whether to adopt in the next 2-3 years before we get too old. I can’t see us raising an infant in our early 40’s.

In the meantime, I have my Big Brother training in less than three weeks which will open a new door to hopefully help someone else. I don’t know whether I will be accepted into the program but won’t know unless I try. I’m exciting and nervous as to the opportunity it will bring.

I would like to thank you all for reading and providing me with great feedback over the last year. I hope that you enjoy and continue to provide great feedback and that I’m able to provide you with interesting content to read. I also hope that I’ve been able to provide you some perspective of what a man going through infertility is feeling and going through.

Best wishes to all of you on your journeys.

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Coming to terms with being Childless before moving on

Those of you who follow me on twitter know I’ve been in a bitchy mood lately. I’ve snapped at a number of people for being happy about their pregnancy (LOL, yeah that petty). I’ve been going at it at home with my wife sleeping in the Guest Room a number of nights. The weird thing is I’m not sure why.

I’ve been exercising more than I have in the last two years. I’ve dropped more than 10 lbs since Christmas losing the weight I put in on 2013. Not that I was fat because I’ve never been fat. I was chunky and my clothes were starting to get tight. I set a goal of getting down from 165 to 145 by mid May. As of last Saturday I’m down to 152. So that’s a good thing. But why have I been acting like a bitch if I at least have this?

The reason is that over a year later my wife and I still have yet to make a decision as to whether we will pursue adoption. I am itching for us to move in some type of direction even if it just means beginning to look at adoption agencies w/out making a decision. I’m tired of putting my life on hold waiting for us to do something.

Which brings me to an email exchange I had with someone I met on another blog that I comment on. For those of you who’ve interacted with me on these you know it brings out the worst in myself. I’ve said a lot of things I regret saying. One of these things led me to emailing this person about it.

She is a woman who recently gave birth to a child but though she hasn’t admitted it I am guessing that she went through some type of infertility. I’m not sure as to what though and I didn’t think it would be polite to ask. In her reply back to me she offered this piece of advice that really stuck with me:

My feeling was that the best course of action for me would be to learn how to come to terms with being childless and that if I could do that, and if i eventually did become a parent, I’d actually be a better parent if it was not a choice made by desperation.

She went onto say that this is something she struggled with and was never able to do. But it hit home for me. If we pursued adoption now it would be out of my desperate desire to parent not because it was a decision for us. I need to accept being childless and be ok with it before we moved onto adoption.

To do this I need to stop putting my life on hold and do something of meaning. I thought about what I could do. I never saw myself leading a ChildFree life that didn’t involve any children in my life. So I have decided to look into my local Big Brother program. I submitted an application earlier this week and hope to hear back from them soon to get involved.

If I can’t make a difference in a child I parent’s life, I hope I can make a difference in a child that I mentor. I don’t know if I’ll be good at it but I don’t know if I don’t at least try. I need to come to terms with being childless before we make any decision as to whether to pursue adoption. Who knows maybe this will be something I love to do and that it does fill the void in my life and whether we pursue adoption becomes a choice rather than an act of desperation. I’ll have to wait and see.

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The Power of Twitter

In this world of social media and technology making our world smaller, I would like to thank twitter for connecting me with as much knowledge and as many great people as I have. When I initially signed up for twitter it was to get sports news quickly because I’m a sports nut like most men. But once infertility hit, it became a vital resource for me connecting with people that have helped me learn so much on my journey.

I would not have the knowledge nor would I have the network of support if it wasn’t for twitter. While it may not seem like it could, 140 characters have more power than anyone can quantify. For those of who aren’t following me or someone I don’t follow, I am @gsmwc02 on Twitter. If you aren’t on twitter, you need to. You will gain much value from it.

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Hello 2014

Well 2013 is now officially over and 2014 is upon us. Though our situation is exactly the same today as it was one year ago I have faith that one way or another something will materialize this year. I know it won’t be easy and there will be times where it feels hopeless but it will work itself out.

I don’t know what that working itself out will mean. I don’t know if it means my wife and I will begin to pursue adopting or if we will make the decision to live childless based upon our circumstances opening ourselves to other opportunities. Either way it won’t be anything I ever expected our life to be. The uncertainty although scary, is ok.

Our future has yet to be determined. It could be that the future will all be good or it could be that it sucks just as much as 2013 did. Being patient is hard but it’s the only choice we have. In the meantime, I wish you all a happy and healthy 2014 and hope that your journeys all figure themselves out for the better.

Resources Page Addition

I’ve decided to expand this blog and add a resources page. This page is a collection of blogs and other websites relating to infertility and the issues relating to different types of alternative parenting (Adoption and Donor Conception). Although the alternative parenting resources are not related to infertility many couples look to these ways to parenthood due to infertility.

I hope these links are of value to those who read this blog as they have been to me. If you have a blog or website relating to infertility or alternative parenting, please let me know as I would be happy to add your site to the page.

Changing the Conversation

Over the last few months I’ve gone back and forth on twitter and her blog with Claudia C. D’Arcy, a birth/first mother on the topic of infertility and its indirect impact on the demand in Domestic Infant Adoption. I’ve mentioned Claudia in past blog posts. She is someone that despite my disagreement with her on a lot of topics, I still respect her and support her cause. In our back and forth conversations I managed to do something that I happen to be good at, annoying the shit out of her. Two weeks ago, I made some comments that were nasty that lead to her needing some more room to respond to me so she put together a blog piece to respond.

Granted she’s not referring to me directly but she’s referring to discussions we’ve had. But I think she brings up a valuable point that as difficult and shitty a situation as infertility brings a couple any decisions they make on how to proceed must take their potential child into account. They also should not engage in unethical adoption practices that could be damaging to a child and their biological family. Infertility doesn’t give anyone the right to act inappropriately.

However, I do believe that the issue is that infertile couples are enabled rather than properly supported in addressing the pain that comes with infertility. Instead of the conversation being “just adopt”, “I know someone who did IVF/adopted and got pregnant” or “you just need to relax and it will happen” the conversation needs to be “I’m sorry for your loss. Is there anything I can do for you?”. Supporting the infertile couple not enabling or guilting them into something that doesn’t fix their infertility. The only thing that fixes infertility is a pregnancy and birth of a biological child related to both parents. Adoption and Donor Conception are alternative ways to parenthood but are not cures to infertility as pointed out in this blog I came across.

In the comment section of Claudia’s piece, I ended up getting into some heated discussions with people who are members of her community. I’m not proud of some of the things I wrote as I got nasty. But towards the end of the comments one person had a great contribution:

I agree that infertility grief is not as well supported as it should be. I think many people in AdotionLand DO recognize and support that grieving. I know that I do. But, the average Joe / Jane on the street says, “Why Don’t You Just Adopt?” And that is where it all goes to hell… So, how can we change Joe / Jane so that they don’t say shit like that? How can we silence the “You Can Just Adopt” chorus? How can we change the uninformed public perception that adoption cures infertility? How can we change the public perception that adoption is all unicorns farting rainbows all day long?

Case in point: Not long ago, I was talking to a younger woman about my kids, and mentioned that I wish I had started earlier in life so that I could have a larger family. It didn’t take ten seconds for her to ask me, “Why wouldn’t you just adopt?” When I told her that I wouldn’t adopt because I am adopted and I know what living that life is like, she looked at me like I had grown horns on my head. Because, how dare I say anything negative about adoption, right?

So, although I am not infertile (just getting older) – I recognize the truth that we (as a society) don’t support infertility grieving the way we should. The uneducated masses hear infertility and shout “Adoption!” or “Fostering!”, as if these things will make the infertility go away. They don’t. They just add a whole new level of suckyness onto an already bad situation. Hearing that over and over fucks with the heads of infertile people in the worst way possible. They are pushed to become the people who have adoption fundraisers. They are pushed to become the people who pray for a family to be destroyed so that they can have a baby. They become adoptive parents like mine, who (after getting what they so deeply desired) realize that they are still infertile… and now they’re raising someone else’s fucking kid on top of it. Do you know what it’s like to hear “I wish I never had you” from your adoptive mother? I do.

I believe we need to change the conversation with infertile couples to address their pain and help them manage their situation. For me while I am not sure how my wife and I will proceed one thing I am confident in is that I’ll always be infertile. Whether we pursue alternative parenthood is irrelevant to our infertility. How I fill the void in my life that infertility has left does not replace a biological child that we’re unable to have. I need to continue to manage the pain infertility has left no matter what happens. But I believe I will be able to do that in time and leave open the possibility that I could become someone’s daddy.

The Adoption Option

Interesting perspective on adoption from someone going through infertility who works in the Foster Care field.

barren bitch

Let me start by saying that I am a social worker.  I work with kids in foster care who will never be able to be reunified with their birth parents.  It is my job to find another permanent option for them.  Usually, this means adoption.

Adoption is an extremely personal decision.  People who have not really contemplated it do not understand the countless factors that go into it.  Everyone will have their own opinions on each issue that comes along with adoption.

Currently, I have no desire to adopt.  To be honest, I want my husband’s child.  I want to make someone with his intelligence and dimples.  I want to go through the experience of gestation with my husband. I want to see his face when our child enters the world.  This is something that adoption will not replace.  Others seem to think that adoption is some sort of solution…

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My Fears of Pursuing Adoption

In the last week, I’ve gotten into some heated arguments with many people on twitter over the whole Baby Veronica case. In one exchange with a birth/first mother who goes by the screen name @RandomMusing23, I became a bit irrational and a bully. I feel awful for doing so as I hate to lose someone I could learn from. Plus she seems like a very nice person and I don’t enjoy upsetting nice well intentioned people. I was wrong and apologize for that. The discussion with her and others misrepresented my feelings and position on adoption so I am writing this piece to clarify my fears with adoption.

Before I get started let me explain when I talk about Adoption, I am referring to Domestic Infant Adoption. I’m not talking about Foster Care. Foster care is not something I’d be comfortable or believe I’d could handle. I’d rather avoid having to deal with RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) which is common in older adoptees. I’m not saying an adopted infant won’t have any emotional issues but I believe that making adoption more a part of their life from infancy working with birth/first parents can help avoid it. The other thing I don’t like with Foster Adoption is the government not the child’s parents select you to parent the child. I feel we’d have a better chance to have a relationship with the birth/first parents because of it. I also have concerns about being able to bond with an older child than I would one who knew who we were since birth. Finally, I desire to experience parenthood from infancy to adult watching the child grow. I want the challenges that come with parenting an infant. There are very few infants available for adoption through Foster Care. All in all I am not confident I’d be a good Foster to Adopt parent. It’s not for everyone. Though there are those who are great at it such as Rebecca Hawkes of Sea Glass & Other Fragments. I don’t have confidence I could be and that wouldn’t be fair to a child that deserves much better than we could provide them.

Now that is out of the way, its time to go through what I am fearful with adoption. To begin I will discuss my fears with the process. I don’t like the idea of having to sell myself to expectant parents competing with other hopeful adoptive parents who could go to greater lengths to pimp themselves out to get the baby they desire. Just this weekend I saw one of these couples advertising on a billboard on the Jersey Turnpike. It’s something I would not ever be comfortable doing. I understand why it has to be done after all these parents are entrusting you to raise their child. I fear looking for an ethical agency may delay or hurt our ability for an expectant mother who is interested in placing their child for adoption to select us. But I would rather do things right and not parent than do things wrong and mess up the child and their birth/first families lives. Still no guarantees it ends up being ethical and that’s scary. The waiting process scares me as I am not a patient person. And finally the risk we would take in being selected by an expectant mother only for her to decide to parent. Now it’s not my place to tell her what to do. It’s her child and her decision not ours. It will always be her child. I wouldn’t be offended but would be hurt by getting my hopes up. One thing I refuse to do is pay any expectant mother expenses directly. Up until she signs the papers caring for the child is not something that is our responsibility.

The process is the easy part…..LOL If we make it to have the privilege and joy of being selected to parent and the adoption is finalized the real challenge begins, being an adoptive parent in an open adoption. I’m going to stick with just aspects of adoptive parenting rather than the day to day parenting. First part of parenting I am scared of is being able to create a comfortable forum where the adoptee doesn’t feel tentative to express themselves. I know this might be out if our control but I don’t want to fail the child. Second is being able to have a great relationship with birth/first family. Ideally we would have a great relationship but adoption itself isn’t exactly an ideal situation. What if we don’t have a good relationship and that negatively impacts the child? It just makes me scared. This is something that is very important to me in a open adoption and it goes beyond medical information. There are things we won’t be able to provide that birth/first parents can. The third thing that scares me is would we raise a confident adult where the adoptee could say my parents supported me and did all they could for me (even if they have hurt). This last thing is something that would define whether we succeeded as parents. It’s what matters more so than anything. More so than anything this is what scares me.

The bottom line is right now, I’m not ready to pursue adoption. Do I think I could overcome these fears, yeah I think so. But it may take me some time. It wouldn’t be fair to the child or birth/first family if we did pursue adoption before we were ready to take on the challenges of adoptive parenthood.