The first session we attended was called Domestic or International : How to Decide? It was presented by Ellen Glazer who counsels infertile couples. Three couples with whom she has worked shared their stories of adopting their children. Here is an article that one of them wrote called Christopher's Mom.
There were two things that struck me during this session. The first is that international adoption seems to be ending as we know it. Ellen said she always used to start this presentation by telling couples not to consider time and cost factors when making their decision about domestic vs. international because there was little difference. She said that's no longer the case. Many countries have closed to adoption for the time being and many others have very long waits. It seems as though lots of people are moving into domestic adoption for that reason. It just doesn't strike me as though this is a great time to adopt.
The other thing that I noticed was that the feelings shared by the presenting couples were similar to one another. All of them described being beat down by infertility. One said, in explaining her skeptical approach to starting the adoption process, that nothing else had worked, why should she believe that adoption would? Another said that it was hard to get excited sometimes, even after being matched, because she'd been let down so often before. Both are now mothers of baby boys. What they were describing is exactly how I've been feeling. It's so hard to trust that anything will work out, when so much that we've tried has failed. It was comforting to hear, yet again, that my emotions, fears, doubts are all normal.
The second session we attended was called Grief and Loss Behaviors in the Adopted Child. I felt slightly out of place as most of the other participants were current adoptive parents. The focus was on the losses that adopted children suffer, especially those who are adopted at an older age or who experience neglect or abuse before adoption, and on the behaviors that may result. Basically the presenters focused on the attachment cycle and what happens when that cycle is broken. Since DH and I are looking at adopting through our state's child protection agency, we were particularly interested in this topic. When the presenters stated that some of the damage that is done cannot be fixed, I have to admit that I had a mild panic attack. They said that doesn't mean it can't be modified or made bearable, but it can't be fixed. When a child is abused or neglected before the age of one, his or her brain development is forever changed. It didn't make me rethink adoption through social services, but it did make me go out and buy the book Parenting the Hurt Child and start reading it.
The third session was actually a presentation about adopting through our state's child protection agency, which is what DH and I have applied to do. Two single adoptive moms shared their stories of adopting their daughters. One adopted her child at three years old. The other's daughter was five years old when she was adopted. This was a wonderful presentation without any sugar coating (both girls are in regular therapy and had/have serious emotional issues), but there was also lots of focus on the rewards of adopting. One of the best aspects was that there were several knowledgeable people in audience. There was one couple who are in the middle of adopting a seven year old boy and had really done their research. They shared lots of information about navigating the system.
There was another man, there because he was interested in adopting a second child, who had attended the conference last year and decided to give the child protection agency a shot. He and his partner had a six month old girl placed with them within a month. Parental rights were terminated by the courts a month later and the adoption was finalized during National Adoption Month in November. That's the situation I want. Of course, I don't believe it will happen that way for us because of the emotions, doubts, and fears mentioned earlier. However, DH and I are moving forward anyway.
I was a bit sad when leaving the conference because I really enjoyed connecting with others in my situation. I wish there were a way to continue this connection all the time. I haven't been thrilled with the adoption forums I've found in the same way I have been with the infertility forums I frequent. I'm sure there are some great adoption forums out there-I just haven't found them yet.
IVF#4 Note: I'm still on lupron and waiting for AF. I've been slighly nervous because I haven't felt any side effects and haven't even had a single bruise from the injections. I kept wondering if something was wrong. Then when I went to do my injection tonight I noticed a little black and blue on my belly. I was thrilled. It's like if I see evidence that it's having an effect on the outside of my body, then it makes me think it's having an effect on the inside as well. Silly infertile mind.