Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 be gone

It’s New Year’s Eve. Time to ponder over the last year and look ahead to 2009.

2008 has been an interesting year for us. This is the year that we decided to actively pursue adoption and build a family. The last 9 months have been a roller coaster of emotions. Many ups and downs, and twists and turns that were unexpected. Personally, I’m ready to get off the ride. I was really hoping that 2008 would be THE year. The year that we became a family of 3. The year that the hard work of parenting would begin for us.

2008 was almost the year.

Three weeks ago we were called by our agency to let us know that they had a “situation” to present to us and the baby was due on December 31, 2008. We looked over the information given to us and said we definitely wanted our profile shown to this expectant mom. Excitement and anticipation filled our hearts for a couple of days. Then we found out that we would be one out of a few profiles shown to her. Doubt now filled my heart. I poured over the letter and pictures in our profile wondering “would I pick me?” Long story short (seriously, there are quite a few twists and turns in this one) she had the baby around Christmas time and decided to parent. We completely respect her decision and pray that she gets the support needed. We are still sad. Even though I never once thought of this baby as mine or that she would even pick us, I still dreamed a bit about finally having a family. About finally entering the next stage in my life, one that I feel ready for.

I wonder how many times I can go through this stress. I think I've been quite clear that I believe in family preservation whenever possible and understand that for me to gain another experiences profound loss. And yet I find myself in this situation where I'm hoping to become a parent through adoption. It's a hard road to walk, not nearly as glossy as it can appear from the outside. Family planning shouldn't be this difficult.

So 2008 has ended on a bit of a sour note for us. Tonight we are spending the evening with good friends who are also in the adoption process and have experienced disappointments along the way. Apple martini’s are on the menu and I do believe we will toast to a happier beginning of 2009 leaving 2008 in the dust, not looking back.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

an open wound

When my father died 7 years ago it felt like someone had stabbed me in the chest. His death was so sudden, we weren’t expecting it, he was way too young, and I wasn’t finished learning from him yet. The wound was deep and penetrating. It came swiftly and required my full and immediate attention. My world completely stopped.

Infertility has resulted in a different kind of grief experience. It has been a slower process…more of a surface wound. The kind of wound that starts small and then over time it slowly gets larger. But it remains open. You’re able to live with the wound for quite some time, fully functioning. And then with every doctor’s appointment, new piece of information, medical test, statistic, and friend that becomes pregnant the wound slowly opens and requires more attention. It requires making decisions that will impact your life forever. It requires ethical and moral thinking about issues that most people will never consider.

After making the decision to pursue adoption there was a sort of superficial healing to the wound. You can envision a future with children. You gain back a bit of control in the process because many things are required of you to get everything in order. But then with each week, day, hour of waiting the wound opens again and this time further. Now the wound requires full attention again but the world doesn’t stop. Instead you have to find ways to carry on and create a sort of normalcy when you hardly feel normal. It’s a sort of survival mode. You try to forget the wound exists but yet you see it everyday. The picture of a future family becomes quite cloudy and you begin to wonder if life will ever change.

This is my open wound.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

the christmas blahs

I’ve been struck with a case of the Christmas blahs this year. And it has less to do with the typical reason that December is usually hard for me, and much more to do with adoption. This year is the closest we have ever been to having a family. If I let myself dream a bit (this does not happen often) I can imagine a child in our life…and then my empty arms quickly brings me back to reality.

It was hard this year to be at family gatherings and church listening to newborn cries and toddlers incessantly calling “mama.” I wanted to be that mama this year. I’m sure many moms would have been glad for a break from clinging children often passing them to dad or grandmas and aunties. But I wanted to be the one that was wanted. Not passed too, but wanted.

What a minor trivial thing. I should really just get over it. Yet, this feeling was very real and powerful. For too many years we have been the childless couple. We’re so close to this changing but it feels oh so far away.

I have really been working on the way I handle December this year and think I’ve come pretty far. I must say that paying more attention to advent and doing a reading every day has helped me to shift my focus. And guess what? A lovely lit Christmas tree stands in my living room. A new friend and mother through adoption, who has been a great support the past few weeks, decided it was time for us to have a tree and brought us one of theirs. As I write this I’m sitting in the glow of a tree that is just perfect for our space and for me. Next year, the decorations will come out.

So because of all my work ahead of time I thought that I was going to handle the Christmas season quite well. Alas, due to unforeseen adoption related circumstances of which I cannot blog, I’m again in a darker place during a joyous festive celebration. I’m exhausted from keeping up a bright face (sometimes more bright then others). Today, I really feel as though I would like to spend a good deal of time sleeping. Wake me up when we get the call…

Please don’t be concerned. I’m simply letting it all out tonight as I think back over the last couple of days. I will be okay…I always am. I know how to pick myself up by my boot straps and carry on. In the meantime, I believe it is okay to lament and acknowledge the hard days.

Tomorrow is a brand new day.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

don't ask, but please aknowledge

I feel like I’m at an impasse with people asking questions about our adoption process. Lately I have felt inundated with the “have you heard anything?” question. So much so that I needed to make a quick exit last weekend from church because if I was asked one more time I would have burst into tears.

People mean well. I know they do. But we’re not going to share information with the larger public unless we actually have something concrete to share. And by concrete I mean a match with an expectant mom who has chosen us to parent her child. I can’t begin to share any potential matches where we know our file is being shown along with a multitude of others. Worse for me then the “have you heard anything?” question would be the pat responses that occur after some disappointment…”you’ll be okay” “there will be another baby” “just put your trust in God and everything will be fine.” I shudder just thinking about being on the receiving end of those platitudes. I heard them all after my father passed away and none were helpful. All I needed was a warm hug and an “I’m sorry.” I understand that it’s hard to know what to say to people who are grieving which is why I don’t want to intentionally put myself in that situation by letting others know if we are considered by an expectant mom since she certainly doesn't have to choose us. Not everyone needs to know that.

However, to have people stop asking questions isn’t good either. D and I are about to make one of the biggest decisions in our lives and to have people ignore this fact doesn’t sit well with me. It makes me feel that adoption is a second class way of forming a family and not worth talking about.

But there isn’t much to share at this point. All the paperwork is done. Everything has been approved. We are just waiting.

Maybe a better question is “how are you doing in the wait?” This way our process is acknowledged and we are asked about how we are coping/managing/etc versus just about getting news. We could be waiting for quite some time yet so there may not be much “news” to share. On the other hand, if we are waiting for a while there will be much to share about our emotions and ways of working through this time in our lives

Monday, December 15, 2008

fate and adoption

This post was on my mind after reading Mei-Ling's post on "Fate" by Choice.

I do not believe that "everything happens for a reason." This view can be unpopular in some of my Christian circles. I think that some Christians are too focused on the Omniscient character of God and pay less attention to the free will He has given us.

I do believe that God knows how my future family will come to be, however I believe that He sees all and knows all while loving me so much that He gives me free will to choose my path. I do not believe that God has pre-destined one particular baby to come into our lives for the purpose of making us parents. To believe that would mean I believe God creates crisis and tragedy in one woman's life so that I benefit. I do not believe in that kind of God. We all make choices and decisions in life and then find ways to work through the consequences. I must be aware of the responsibility I have in making choices (all the while still asking for God's wisdom and leading) and not use the cop out of "everything happens for a reason" or "it was meant to be." These sentiments are often used in adoption and I struggle with how to respond.

I do believe in birth family preservation when at all possible and that God desires this for each child that is born. However, choices are made (sometimes out of the control of the individual) and then somehow in the middle of it all God works to bring people together. I don't think this is fate or meant to be but rather an all-powerful, all-loving God who works in each of our lives in mysterious ways that we will never be able to completely understand.

Read Mei-Ling's post on fate and adoption to get a perspective from an adoptee.

Saturday, December 13, 2008



Mei-Ling at Shadow Between Two Worlds posted this quote about grief recently:
One does not get over grief. You learn to live with it instead. Grief can be accepted, but cannot be erased or reconciled. It does not get better; we learn how to get through it and integrate it into our lives.
I agree. Grief doesn't ever leave, but it changes. You learn how to live in it and continue on. I have worked to face my experiences of loss head on, to sit in it and work my way through it. This has helped me to understand more about myself and continues to form and shape who I am.

I don't for one minute pretend to think that my grief experiences would ever be comparable to that of an adopted child. However, I have to believe that having walked the road filled with intense grief and loss (I'm not just talking about infertility) will help me to be able to relate on a different level to our future child. I will never understand what it means to experience loss of one's first family in the same way. I do understand what it means to deeply lose and what it looks like to come out on the other side. The grief will never disappear, but if allowed and able to work through it, it does change, and you learn how to live with it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

race preference test

The article that I linked to yesterday cites the Implicit Association Test from Harvard which is intended to test race preference between European Americans and African Americans. I took the test. Give it a try, it’s quite interesting.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

black kids in white houses

Last weekend I came across this article titled "Black Kids in White Houses: On Race, Silence, and the Changing American Family" which was posted on Harlow’s Monkey. I read through the entire article (it’s long) and it brings up some excellent points related to transracial adoptions and parenting. Bottom line, we can't be silent about the issues that arise in transracial parenting and adoptees must have a voice.

After all this time, there are still things we don't talk about. It’s a century and a half after Emancipation and a year before the election of America’s first black president. This is October 2007.

The door is closed. There is a black woman at the front of the room, near the blackboard. She is facing a black man who is sitting down and talking fast. He keeps talking for a long time, as if he has been waiting a while to say this to someone. The police, but not only the police, treated him like he was a criminal. His parents, who are white, didn't believe him when he told them this, or if they wanted to believe him, they still just didn't know what to say. Why would they? They were adopting a black child, they thought—not a black teenager, not a black man.

When he finishes, there is quiet in the room, as if everyone is giving him his due. A young Korean woman goes next. She says she has tried to find her birth mother, but the Korean authorities have stopped her. She says she is working to end all adoption from Korea.

There is a young Korean man. He is gay. He is also transgender. He grew up in a white Christian family in a white Christian town. He had to escape. For a long time, he didn't talk about it. He knows he should be grateful, but here, among like-minded peers, he feels like he can really talk about it for the first time.

This workshop is called "Race and Transracial Adoption Workshop with Lisa Marie Rollins." Rollins is the black woman at the front of the room. She says that a social worker labeled her Mexican, Filipino, and Caucasian because people didn't want black kids. But she looked more and more black as she grew older. Her parents still said she wasn't black. She was. Finally, they admitted it too. Then once, as an adult, visiting home, she found a mammy doll in her mother's kitchen, in among the other knickknacks. That's the end of the anecdote. She's still basically speechless about it.

She says it is time to watch a video called "Struggle for Identity." In the video, people tell their stories, stories like the ones in the room. A black woman who was adopted by white parents boils it down: "Don't think you can make black friends after you adopt a black child. If you don't already have black friends, you shouldn't be adopting a black child." Then the lights go up. There are several white people in the room who have said they have already adopted black or Asian or Guatemalan children, or that they are right now waiting to leave for Ethiopia to pick up their adopted children. All of those people —the white people—are crying.

They are crying because they have heard things they did not want to hear. But there is more to it than that. They are also crying because they do not know how else to respond to the great, big cultural silence that has been broken here. Continue reading...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

the HSG test

Ever since I referenced the hysterosalpingogram (HSG) test in this post I’ve been thinking about this very odd experience.

The test was performed at a hospital and not in the fertility clinic. The HSG test needs to be performed at a certain time during your cycle but they’re always booked so it took me about 3 months to get an appointment. I had heard about this infamous test from a friend of mine and was quite nervous as it was supposed to be pretty painful.

This is my experience.

I got called from the waiting room to an area in the back where I was sent to a change room which had a gown for me and a locker for my clothes. After donning the gown I was instructed to sit in the chairs lined up against the wall in a semi-private hallway. After changing and taking my seat I realized that I was one of four women in the same predicament.

So there we sat. Four infertile women, shivering (seriously, why must they keep it so cold?!) on green plastic chairs with only a thin hospital gown to keep us warm. We sat against the wall in a row, facing our changing rooms. We were all bonded together in some strange sort of way. But no words were spoken by any of us that afternoon. Although I’m sure we were all thinking similar thoughts, such as: "wonder how long they’ve been trying" "where is she in the process of testing" "how much is this test going to hurt." To top it off this hallway wasn’t private, hospital staff walked past our little group and I wondered if they knew why we were all there. The lack of privacy made it worse.

Then one by one we were called into the testing room. And one by one each of us made our way from the test room to the bathroom and back into the hallway where the rest sat waiting our turn. I wanted to shout to the first victim…"how was it? does it really hurt as bad as they say?!"….but I stayed quiet, not breaking the silence, taking my cues from the other two sitting beside me. And then it was my turn. I won’t get super graphic here but imagine someone injecting dye up your vajayjay to check for any blockages in the fallopian tubes. Not my idea of a pleasant afternoon activity. The neat thing, which totally distracted me from the procedure, was that I got to watch the monitor which showed the dye travelling through my tubes. That was actually pretty cool although I wouldn’t recommend this experience just for kicks! In the end I felt hardly any pain which was a great blessing since I have a negative pain threshold!

And when I moved from the bathroom back into the hallway to my change room there was no one left of my foursome. I’ll never see those women again (I don’t even remember what they looked like since we were sitting side by side and didn’t dare look at one another!) but for a moment we shared an intimate time together. A time of vulnerability. And even though no one voiced this fact on that sunny summer afternoon, I will never forget it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

pet therapy

Have you ever noticed the high percentage of people who struggle with infertility that have a pet? D and I are a part of that statistic. Meet Bailey, our super cute cat!

This kitty has done more for me during the last few years than she will ever know. I remember when we got her 3 ½ years ago I wondered if this was the best decision since we were family planning. But we really felt compelled to get a pet after fostering 3 baby kitties that were abandoned on our porch 6 months earlier. I had so much fun...and stress...while taking care of those kittens (I never had a pet while growing up)! So a cat it was for us and I have never regretted that decision. Our cat has actually afforded me a bit of pet therapy by greeting me at the door when I come home from work, letting me know (persistently!) when it's time for food, giving me cuddles on the couch, listening unconditionally to me when I need to vent, and getting me to laugh when I really didn't feel like laughing. She counts on us to take care of her and helped me to focus on something else besides fertility and babies. A pet is not a child (it's slightly irritating when people equate animals with humans) but this cat has been so good for me while we've gone through infertility and now while waiting for a match. This will sound strange to non-pet lovers but I honestly don't know what I would do without her! Maybe they should start some pet therapy at fertility clinics. It sure would lighten the mood in the waiting room!

Of course once this baby arrives we are anticipating some major adjustments for Bailey!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

a nice story

Sorry to be such a negative nelly lately. This story gives me warm fuzzies…

D has gotten to know SA (who owns a business near D’s office) during the past couple of years. D shared our adoption plans with SA who is quite excited for us. Just recently SA came with a friend to D’s office and mentioned to her friend that D was adopting and he’ll make such a great dad! SA also said that she needs to regularly check in with D to provide encouragement during the wait and generate baby excitement. She said that because we don’t exhibit the outside changes of expecting a child which causes excitement and the baby buzz, that she needed to take it upon herself to create the buzz on her own with D. What a sweet woman!

There are some people in our lives that are really excited and generate a buzz that gets us excited as well but there are many more that don’t. So I thought it was a neat story that someone who is pretty much a stranger to us is making an effort in this way.

Monday, December 1, 2008


December is a hard month for me. My father died suddenly 7 years ago in December and his death has impacted me greatly. D and I were already married for some time and we typically decorated and celebrated the Christmas season starting late November. (D won't allow any Christmas music prior to Dec. 1st!). The year my father died was the year that we went all out, bought a beautiful new (fake) tree, made all new decorations, and had friends over for a lavish dinner. So when he died in the middle of December I was surrounded by all things Christmas. Christmas screamed at me every day. Christmas was present at his funeral as the church was already decorated, Christmas was present through visits from family and friends as everyone brought Christmas baking, Christmas was present in my house, in the stores, on the radio, outside with the lights etc. etc. Then 2 weeks later my broken family "celebrated" Christmas. For me, death and Christmas are intricately entwined.

For many years after his death I had a physical aversion to Christmas. When all the decorations started to come out and the music was on the radio I would start to really feel ill. Christmas in the form of decorations and music was banned in our house for many years. I still don't get really excited during the Christmas season as I once did. I even find futility in the whole giving/receiving gifts. I feel forced to buy in to the consumerism that Christmas has become by heading to the mall and searching for the best deals on the best gifts.

I must say that I believe that once we have a family there will be a new element of joy added to my experience of the Christmas season. To see the season through the eyes of a child will be joyful indeed. When we started the adoption process we thought that our paperwork would be in the US much earlier then when it got there so we dreamed a bit about having a child this year at Christmas. Since it's unlikely that we will have a family before Christmas I feel that I need to do some preparing for the season so that it doesn't become extra blah this year.

I'm working at ways to rediscover the joy found in the true meaning of Christmas. D and I don't give each other presents but instead plan a nice evening out together every year. We're doing the same thing with my sister and brother-in-law where our "gift" to each other is time spent together doing something fun, enjoyable, and focused on our relationship. This year we also used the World Vision gift catalogue to give meaningful gifts and share what we have been blessed with. I did all my Christmas shopping in November so I can intentionally stay away from the mall in December. I even found myself enjoying a bit of the shopping this year because the stores weren't overly decorated and full of shoppers. I'm much more aware of advent this year and found a book of daily advent readings that I have committed to doing throughout December. And the last number of years I've watched A Charlie Brown Christmas which is a story about the real reason for the season.

So I'm learning about how I need to approach December and all that it holds for me. Even though we are likely to be without a child again this year I'm hoping and praying that I can discover a new kind of joy this month that has been missing for me for quite some time...and maybe I never truly knew what that joy really looked and felt like.

But no tree again in our house...honestly its way too much work!

There will be a tree next year.