Monday, January 7, 2013

My Pre-Adoption Journey

About 4 years ago, my wife and I decided to start a family. It felt like a big decision at the time, even though that initial conversation was over almost as soon as it started. We went through the usual waiting, going through pregnancy tests every month thinking “maybe this is the day!” The first few months were disappointing, but it didn't take long before they felt devastating.

As you might expect, my wife took the disappointment a little harder than I did at first. She probably still does. And I, with my overly optimistic and always hopeful attitude, tried to always spin the situation toward the positive. This went on, until my wife started to use the word Infertility. I still remember how this threw me for a loop. I kept telling her (and myself) that we just need to wait a little bit longer. Anytime we tested, I still thought “maybe this is the day!”

After a year or more, we started seriously discussing the possibility of infertility. Katie started scheduling tests with her doctor, and we hoped for the best. As the test results came, each one arrived with the bittersweet realization that we still didn't know why we weren't pregnant yet. Next, it was my turn. It didn't take long before we had a little bit of our answer: something was wrong.

After verifying the results and narrowing down the diagnosis, we scheduled a procedure. I needed a minor surgery that had about a 2/3 chance of fixing our fertility problems. The surgery went through without a hitch, but there was still that 1/3 chance that it wouldn't change things. With each of the 3 month, 6 month, and 9 month follow-up tests, we hoped for the best, but we didn't get the results we wanted.

The next step (in the medical route) would be IVF-ICSI, a procedure that would directly fertilize a few eggs, and use medications to try to come out with the best possible circumstances to result in a pregnancy. It was expensive, and there were no guarantees. In the best case scenario, we would pay $15-20k for a single attempt that would hopefully result in a healthy pregnancy. Worst case, we would try this a several times without ever reaching the result we were looking for.

This discussion became very real before my final (9 months post-surgery) follow-up with the fertility doctor. What we thought we wanted more than anything was to have a baby resulting from a healthy pregnancy, but we knew the potential consequences involved if we were to put ourselves through the emotional battleground of IVF.

Until then, I had resisted the other methods of starting a family. Partly, I was still hopeful that we could get pregnant on our own someday, without having to deal with IVF or anything besides the “natural” route. But I think I was also influenced by the stigma that goes along with raising a child that doesn't carry your genes. I want to assign some fault to the adoption practices of the 1960's through 1980's, but when it comes down to it, I just felt like I would be raising someone else's baby.

In anticipation of my final follow-up testing, we had the “what if” discussion. When it came down to brass tacks, we were sitting in the car half way through the 5 hour drive to my parents' house for Thanksgiving last year. We asked the question, and we prayed. Suddenly, the word “adoption” didn't seem so foreign. Suddenly the idea of standing in the gap for a child as their parent felt … well, it felt right! To both of us.

3 months later, we had finished researching local adoption agencies and chose our favorite, determining that we would need to save $22,000 to afford the agency and legal fees associated with our planned adoption. 1 month after this, I was offered a closer to home, higher paying job so that we could start our Adoption Savings Account. Another 3 months later, my wife was promoted at her part time job, doubling her pay. Another 4 months, and my company bumped the minimum salary for my job, giving us even more money to put into the adoption account. And as the Christmas holidays have come and gone, we have been gifted over $4,500 from friends and family ($1,100 given anonymously), all deposited into the adoption account. We've received 4 different baby gifts this Christmas, showing us just how much support we have from our families in this journey. We've even been able to watch my cousin take care of her 6-week old adopted boy, while we imagine coming home with our baby next Christmas.

Today, we have submitted our application to the agency. I would say that all we have left to do is pray, but I think we'll probably spend the next 5 months scheduling meetings and home study appointments, putting together a nursery, coordinating pre-adoption baby showers, and putting the final touches to the savings account before fees are due. And every day, we'll be hoping and praying for the pregnant girl who is hoping and praying for us to come along.

Always moving forward,


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