Tag 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.

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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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.

The Demand in America to become a Parent

In our society there is ignorance (being uninformed) on many topics that lead to problems others suffer from. As a child I was unfairly stereotyped as a learning disabled child who should be coddled rather than challenged. The ignorance there was board of education leaders not understanding that every child is different. If it weren’t for my parents I would have suffered by never being challenged.

Now as an adult dealing with infertility with my wife we are dealing with a different type of societal ignorance and that is being childless. Time Magazine has published an article about those who choose to live a ChildFree lifestyle. While the article does hit on some key points how times have changed it does miss on other aspects such as missing the class of women who are childless by circumstance not by choice.

Pamela Tsigdinos a blogger an author of the book “Silent Sorority” dissected this Time article in her blog. I am a big fan of her work. In this piece Pamela points out how the Time article missed on the childless by infertility aspect, especially in the below part;

… especially when 33% of Americans believe having children increases social standing. Really? That’s the first time I’ve seen that lovely statistic. So those of us without children are seen by a third of Americans as having diminished social standing? Now that’s just cold.

This statistic doesn’t surprise me as those who are childless tend to be outcasted and made to feel inferior. In my IF journey I’ve done a lot of research on donor conception and adoption. Many of the issues in these communities are driven by the demand for babies that exist from those dealing with infertility. However, it is largely ignored by these communities that childless couples/people are outcasted and made to feel inferior in society. Being a parent is a privilege not an entitlement. But those who have that privilege are not superior to those who don’t. Granted this doesn’t excuse the parents who choose not to their child conceived through donor gametes or the parents who close their child’s open adoption or the hopeful adoptive parents who will say and do anything to acquire an expectant mother’s child. I don’t defend these actions. So I do understand why these communities would balk at this idea on the surface. But what this idea does is expose the underlying issue that leads to these actions.

If our society recognized the pain that comes with infertility, didn’t assume couples were childless by choice and didn’t outcast the childless and childfree communities many of the issues in adoption and donor conception can be prevented. There are many in these communities who feel the supply needs to be decreased to eliminate the problems. While I do agree it will help, it will only do so to a certain extent. But if you take away the supply you still have a group of outcasted childless people who go uncared for. What will truly achieve success is by addressing both the supply and demand sides of the picture. The fewer infertile couples that are outcasted from society the lower the demand for infant adoption and donor gametes. Makes sense doesn’t it?

That’s why those in the adoption and donor conceived communities should care about this and have it become a part of their platform. They would be the ones who would benefit from a societal change more so than any group. This change would help them achieve their communal goals.

As I said earlier I understand why these communities would balk at this on the surface, the entitlement of infertile couples to have children has led to many issues. But these people for the most part conceived children of their own. They would not understand the motivation their parents had to become parents. But what they can do is recognize it and have it become a part of their platform. It’s a way they can address the demand in America for couples to become parents.

Filling the Void

One of the joys of having ADD is that your mind is always racing and you are always thinking ahead. It makes it hard to live in the present without thinking ahead. As I’ve closed the door on parenthood to protect myself I’ve begun to wonder what I can do with my life to fill the void that being childless has left me. At this time I don’t think I could volunteer with something that had to do with children. It’s too much of a reminder of what isn’t. Maybe I would get involved more so in the Greyhound rescue we adopted Lila from (how could you not love that cute face below). But none of those things will fill the void left by being childless.

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The thing is long term can I continue to let what isn’t consume my life and keep me down? Or do I make the best of what’s been handed to me and turn it into fuel to make the future for others better. Which brings me to a piece from one of my favorite people (and I have many of them) in the adoption community, Claudia D’Arcy of Musings of the Lame. A little background on Claudia, she is a mother who at the age of 19 was forced to relinquish her son due to societal pressures that existed in the baby scoop era. When I first found her site I was angry (still am) at a lot of the things I read on adoption. I know that I pissed off a lot of her readers and most likely pissed her off a few times. I admit I was a dick. The truth is I was ignorant on adoption and had a lot of grief that I took out on pieces that stirred up a lot of emotions in me. Being the strong determined to get her message out type of person she is, Claudia put up with a lot of my antics and allowed me to engage and learn about adoption. I highly recommend reading her site if you are someone considering adoption. I caution though to read it with an open mind and get to know her story before judging her. This is someone who is as tough as nails. She has been through a lot, been shit on a lot and has turned something negative in her life into a mission in her life to make the world a better place. That is what I admire about her the most (along with being Italian like me).

Earlier today she wrote a piece on “Finding Happiness in spite of Adoption Reunion Issues”. In the middle of the piece she discusses people control their own happiness despite what circumstances they are handed that are out of their control. She was referring to adoptees an birth/first/natural parents in a reunion where one side may not be on the same page as the other. While being childless due to infertility is a loss that is due to medical reasons whereas adoption is human made, she does being up a good point that can be applied to many aspects in life.

Claudia then takes a turn to say something that really hit home for me:

There comes a time where I think we have to almost give up on the things that we have decided will make us feel happy and content and begin to accept the reality of life and be happy in spite of it.

It’s not so much that I feel only being a parent will make me feel happy but it will make me content. I already have a great wife, nice house, a good stable job, we’ve traveled as well the only thing missing is being a parent and starting a family. It’s all I ever set out to do in life and now that I am not able to have children I am at a loss of what to do next that will fill that void. Claudia has chosen to live her life in spite of the pain adoption has brought her and has done a damn good job of it. Is what I should do is live my life in spite if being infertile and take my loss using it as fuel to make things better for the future? Will knowing that I’ve educated others on the realities of infertility (specifically male infertility) and how the childless are outcasted fill that void? I don’t know if it will. Right now I’m not at the point to make that next move. But it’s hard to not think about the next move when I’m someone who has a hard time staying in the present.