Monday, November 15, 2010

Where are you, Juno?

A few of you who commented on my last point were interested to know why we have decided against adoption.  Given the wonderful support I've gotten through this blog and the fact that some of you may be facing similar decisions, I thought it only fair to share.

I know that I write this post at the risk of offending someone.  Please know, that is not my intent.  I in no way want to indicate that the decision we have made is the right one for everyone.  (It might not have even been the right decision for us, given different circumstances.)  As with all choices about family-building, this decision is personal to us and reflects our deciding what will work for us. . . . not what is the "right" thing for anyone else to do.  So I ask that you bear that in mind as you read my/our thoughts.

Even before attending the information seminar on adoption last Saturday, I had done quite a bit of research on the topic.  I had also posed a question to women on a forum I visit for parents via DE about how they decided to go that route instead of adoption, and I got some very logical, well-thought-out answers.  Some of the reasons women chose DE included the following:
  • At least one parent is genetically related to the child
  • Complete control over the intrauterine environment 
  • Timing of when you get a baby is (somewhat) more within your control, assuming DE IVF works, of course
  • Cheaper than adoption if you have insurance which covers IVF (we don't)
  • Really wanted to experience a pregnancy (I don't need this experience)
  • Didn't qualify to adopt due to age or other issues (does not apply to us)
As you can see by my comments in parentheses, only the first three of these reasons resonated with me/us.  I'll discuss them more later.

At the information seminar we attended, we learned a few things.  The private adoption attorney who spoke focused a lot on "marketing" and how this leads to shorter wait times.  Other than that, he spent a lot of time talking about the adoption of Indian (Native American) children and its complications and difficulties finding birth fathers and the problems which can arise from that.

The next presenter was from a local agency.  The agency representative told us quite a few interesting things:

  • 9 out of 10 of the birth mothers she deals with are "functionally illiterate," so don't bother writing a bunch of stuff in your profile, just make sure you include a lot of pretty pictures
  • many of her birth mothers are homeless, in jail, mentally ill, use drugs, or some combination
  • very few of her birth mothers are young women/girls who are "just" having an accidental pregnancy, and the teenaged birth moms she has are usually from very dysfunctional backgrounds
  • most of her birth moms are looking for a home where the wife is a SAHM and the couple shares her interests (she used NASCAR as an example)
  • in the past year, she has placed about 20 babies and had 2 birth moms change their minds after a match
  • at her agency, if the birth mom changes her mind after a match has been made, you don't get that money (half the agency fee, about $11K) back
  • when asked about wait times, she volunteered the information that she had one family who had been waiting over a year for a "healthy Caucasian girl" and said that she "couldn't remember" the last time she placed a full Caucasian child with a family
I confess that I was already turned off by the idea of "marketing" myself to birth mothers but kept an open mind into the second segment.  (I understand that marketing is a necessary part of the process, but it just doesn't sit well with me, for a variety of reasons.)  As I listened to this social worker's remarks, I started thinking to myself "If I am going to adopt a child born of a mentally ill, drug-addicted mother and unknown father, why not just adopt through foster care?"
There was a break after the agency representative, and MM and I then left because the next segment was about international adoption, something we aren't considering at all.  (We only want a newborn, and MM will not consider interracial adoption.)

[MM's discomfort with interracial adoption stems from his desire for privacy.  He does not want to adopt a child where, by his/her appearance alone, it will be obvious to any casual observer for the rest of our lives that the child is adopted.  I certainly think there is more than one way to look at this issue, and while I do not share his view and would willingly adopt a child of another race. . . . I understand his point and must respect his opinion.]

I think the take-home lesson for us was that there aren't many Junos out there looking to place a baby.  

On the drive home, we agreed that we were both totally off the idea of adoption for a few reasons.  MM first observed that when the agency representative talked about the family waiting over a year for a "healthy Caucasian girl" in a way which implied they were being unreasonable, that raised a red flag for him since "that's the kind of baby we want."  (We are flexible about gender, but it's true that we want to adopt a healthy Caucasian newborn.)  One of MM's stated reasons for agreeing to consider adoption was that we could "give a home to a child who needs one."  Hearing these two presentations made him realize that there are couples lined up twenty deep to adopt healthy Caucasian newborns, so we aren't really performing a charitable act if we adopt one.

We began to realize that, though we might get lucky and be picked early by a birth mother, more likely than not, we would be in for a long wait for the type of baby we hope to adopt.  Given that I intend to continue working outside the home if/when we have a child and other variables involved, it is possible that we would not get picked at all.  It is possible that we could have a failed match.

We then discussed the possibility of foster-to-adopt, since that popped into my mind during the second presentation.  MM feels he could not do this due to the risk of the baby being removed from our care and returned to the parents or another family member after living with us for months or years.  He feels it would be "too heartbreaking."  (Again, we disagree but I respect his position.)

So how we arrived at a decision. . . . . One thing you need to know is that my most dominant feeling about TTC at this point is that I want to be done.  Done "trying," that is.  I have reached a point where I honestly feel I can be content with ending our efforts, whether the end result is parenthood or not.  (My preferred outcome would still be to have a child of our own, but I do truly believe that I could learn to be OK with childlessness also.)

In this alone, I may well be in a different place than many of you reading.  I no longer feel that I will do "anything" just to be a parent.  Over two-and-a-half years of trying, with nothing to show for our efforts, has sucked a lot of joy out of my otherwise-very-happy life, and I am tired of it.

Given where I'm at emotionally, and the fact that I am already much older than I'd ever planned to be as a first-time mom, adoption doesn't seem like the better choice to us.  Unless we got extremely lucky with adoption, we would likely have a long wait ahead of us with basically no control over how long that wait would be.  Though I certainly don't judge others' choice to do so, I don't wait to be starting out as a parent at 43 or 44.

I realize that there are no guarantees that a DE cycle will work, but the success rate of 80% is encouraging.  Assuming it worked on the first try, we would be parents in the spring of 2012, around my 41st birthday.  Even if we had to do subsequent FETs, we wouldn't have to wait long to start them.  So unless the "worst case scenario" occurred and I didn't get pregnant from either our fresh DE cycle or FETs from embryos from that cycle, DE IVF would likely mean a baby for us much sooner.

Also, I confess that the ability to have complete control over the intrauterine environment of our child appeals to the nurse and control freak in me.  I think the intrauterine environment is so important, and I know that if we adopted, I would worry not only that the birth mother used drugs, alcohol or tobacco but also about lesser things like whether she ate nothing but processed foods and soda.  (These concerns wouldn't stop me from going that route if it seemed to be the right choice, but I would still have those thoughts, I know.)

If I were even five years younger, I think we would go ahead with adoption.  Even if we had to wait 3-5 years for the right situation to come along, that would be doable.  But given my age, the length of time we've already been trying, and the length of time we'd probably have to wait. . . . it doesn't feel like the right choice to us.

So we are going to go ahead with our single DE IVF cycle next summer.  We are going to take advantage of a type of "shared risk" program offered by our chosen clinic, where we pay a single flat fee for the fresh cycle and all FETs from embryos generated during that cycle.  At then end, if we don't have a live birth, we would get a refund of a significant portion of what we spent (though we would still be out of pocket for meds, the donor's fee and some other miscellaneous expenses).

I hope by putting this into writing I've done a decent job of explaining our reasoning.  If you are facing a similar choice, you might arrive at the opposite decision for perfectly reasonable and rational reasons. . . . . if only a few variables were different for us, we might have arrived at a different decision.

One of many things to hate about infertility: there are seldom many "right" answers.

9 comments:

  1. S., I think I could have written this post. Every couple will be different, of course, but these are exactly some of the reasons why we decided adoption was not for us at that stage of our lives, & chose to live childfree. Thank you for explaining your thinking so well. And good luck on your DE cycle!

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  2. Thank you so very much for sharing this with us. You are not at all offensive, these are difficutl choices with no real answers. You issues with adoption do make sense and you have given me a lot to consider (I have always preferred adoption over DE for me but am starting to reconsider).
    Good luck to you

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  3. I swear I wrote this blog post too...except I did't actually write such post. Every word on this blog post was permanently imprinted in my brain a long time ago. The worst for me was when I didn't know DE IVF existed and my only option was adoption - those were some horrible times for my DH and I. He can't accept a childfree life. And another one for me...I don't know if I could ever get over my anxieties that there is a birth mother in this world other than me (surrogacy - probably could). I know that both you and I will not win over everyone with our DE choice but we can only hope that those that disagree with DE will respect our decision as much as we respect those that undergo adoption. I look forward to supporting you and MM as you undergo DE IVF.

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  4. I'm excited that you guys have a plan! It was so hard to get there, I know. You both are being so open with and sensitive to each other. When do you start looking for the donor? I think the clinics work hard to match you with just the right one.

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  5. That was a very moving post and I could not have worded it better myself. During the entire time we were trying to conceive I always said adoption was not for me. It's a wonderful thing, and great that people can do it, but it's not something I can do. I was already considering donor eggs, surrage, and gestational carrier. As long as you are at peace with your decision, that's all that matters.

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  6. I am definitely a lurker on your posts mainly because our paths are very different. I did go through a year where we were considered "infertile" but then we adopted from Ethiopia and ended up pregnant so I really don't feel comfortable posting on a blog where someone is still struggling to get the family they have always wanted. So I just lurk :)

    Your feelings about adoption are totally rational and understandable. Adoption isn't for everyone. However, I did want to throw out for your consideration Embryo adoption. I know it is similar to DE IVF in some ways, but I don't know if your husband would feel comfortable with it, but just wanted to throw something else in there to consider. A lot of people don't know what to do with the leftover embryo's after they have a succesful IVF and if they don't want to use them for a future pregnancy, they can put them up for adoption. I don't know what your views are on Embryo's and whether or not they are babies, but just wanted to throw it out there for you even though I imagine your head could be about to explode from all the decisions you are having to make :)

    Take care, and I hope to follow you through a healthy pregnancy in the next year!

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  7. Thank you for posting this. It sounds like you and your husband are in agreement about not wanting to adopt, which is the most important thing. In the (very limited) adoption literature I have read there has been a strong thread of conservatism, classism, and patronizing of birth mothers. I had been hoping that I was just reading the wrong books, but it sounds like your seminar was similar in tone. I don't think that telling prospective adoptive parents that most birth mothers are "functionally illiterate" helps anyone. But if the agencies are reflecting the reality of domestic adoption in this country, or at least in your area, then I think you and your husband have definitely made the right choice for you. This post was a wonderful explanation of your thought process and I really appreciate it because I'm thinking through the same issues (though coming to different conclusions).

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  8. I love this post for many reasons. We are thinking about adoption, we are also still pursuing treatment options using our own ah...materials. I think that is the thing with infertility all roads do not lead to the same decisions or outcomes, but all roads are hard. I do hope that everything works out for you guys and I look forward to reading about all you new adventures.

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  9. Very true - there aren't many right answers. You did a great job of explaining what you've chosen.

    Many times I've been asked "why don't you just adopt?" - it's so odd that people think it's like going to Babymart, picking one out, paying, and taking it home. Granted, I've done very little of my own research regarding adoption but I do know much more than the "average" non-IF person because of things I've read over the years and because of many blogs I read. Adoption likely will not be the solution for us and I find it difficult to put the reasons into words. We have some of the same reasoning, so thank you for putting it out there.

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