Monday, December 21, 2009

Update to My heart skips a beat

CW got back to me and reassured me that L's biological grandmother's request will not delay the process of our adoption.  BGM asked for a visit, not custody.  CW spoke with her and denied her request. Without going into detail, BGM is not safe or appropriate for the children to visit with. CW said there is no way she will allow visitation.  She did tell BGM that she could write a letter which CW would pass on when she visits next. BGM was not happy about that, but seemed to accept it. 

Although I have some sympathy for a grandmother wanting to see her late son's children during the holidays, it's best for the boys if they don't have contact with her.  Visiting would benefit her, not them.  Sadly, this is one of those situations when a person is reaping what they sowed.  

Saturday, December 19, 2009


I attended a family party this evening and many of my extended family members met L for the first time.  My cousin was the first one to see us.  Our conversation went like this:

Cousin: Congratulations! How is motherhood?

Me: It's amazing.  I love it.

Cousin: Is it what you expected it to be?

Me: It's more than I expected.  DH and I are so happy.  L is just the coolest little guy ever.

Cousin: Well, you're lucky you didn't get him when he was at the baby-baby stage.

Me: (stunned silence)

Cousin:  At least you didn't have to deal with the not sleeping and stuff.

Me: (still stunned) Oh, I was lucky?

Cousin: So how does he sleep?

Me: (answering her questions but asking myself did she just basically say I was lucky that I didn't have a newborn, didn't get pregnant, didn't get L when he was younger.  WTF did she just say?)

I do know that I'm lucky, not for the reasons my cousin thinks.  I can't imagine being a mother to any child but L.  I LOVE him.  He is an amazing, joy-filled little boy.  I am lucky that he found his way into our home. But seriously, why would you tell someone who struggled with infertility that she's lucky she never had to deal with a newborn?  That's just clueless. I wish I could have raised L from birth.  I wish I had been the one comforting him when he was new to the world.  I wish I'd been there for his first smile, his first giggle, his first taste of blueberries (his favorite), his first birthday. I would have gladly given up some sleep if it meant I could have had L in my life sooner. But that wasn't how it worked out and I accept that.  We're so happy now. But seriously, how clueless can you be?*

Oh, and she had her first baby via IVF.  Uh, huh.**  

* I know her ignorant comment has more to do with her own struggles with motherhood than my situation, but still. . .

**But her second was an oops, so maybe that wiped out her sensitivity to those with infertility?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My heart skips a beat

We got an email from L's worker today.  His biological grandmother (BGM) is requesting visitation.  This is the same woman who lost her sons, including L's biological dad, to foster care for years due to neglect. I don't think she's ever met L or his brother. Well, maybe she met his brother during the month he lived with his biological parents immediately after he was born. I can't imagine L visiting with her.  He had such a hard time when he had his last visit with his biological father, and he used to visit with him every month. L's caseworker plans to deny the request, but I find the whole situation unsettling.  I know it's probably the holiday season that started BGM thinking this way.  I know there's no judge in his right mind who would give her custody of the boys, so I'm not too worried about that (but I am just a little bit worried, because it's my nature to expect the roof to fall in).  I don't think very many judges would give her visitation, given her history. I'm going to call the CW tomorrow to check in on whether BGM can appeal CW's decision or if it's final. 

What this new event has done is started me thinking about when L is older and wants to know more about his biological family.  He doesn't have a pretty story about how his birthparents couldn't take care of him but loved him so much that they found a family who could love him and take care of him forever.  I'm not threatened by L wanting to have contact with his biological family; I'm scared to death by it.  These are not safe people (with very few exceptions).  These are people who are caught in a generations-long cycle of abuse, neglect, substance abuse, and criminality. L and his brother have, hopefully, broken that cycle, but what happens when they want to get to know the only biological relatives they have and those relatives are still in the thick of that cycle. How do you protect your child in a situation like that, while still supporting his desire to feel a biological connection?  

I know I'm probably partly transferring my worry about BG's recent request onto a future situation, maybe to avoid the present a bit. The thing is that right now I know I'm completely unprepared for that future situation.  I found an adoptive parent support group in my area.  I'm planning to attend their next meeting. I need help. 

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Brother From Another Mother

Well, actually brothers from the same biological mother, but raised by different adoptive mothers. That's my son and his older brother, P.  They're full biological siblings being raised in separate homes. One of the reasons we were chosen as the adoptive family for L is because we live near his brother's family and were willing to maintain contact with them.  L's adoption worker, who is also his brother's adoption worker, thought we would be a good match for P's parents and that they would feel comfortable having continuing contact with us. 

When L was born, his brother had already been in care for two years and had been living in his pre-adoptive placement for a year. L was placed in a foster home because his brother's family didn't feel comfortable taking L as a straight foster placement.  At that point, L's goal was reunification.  When his goal was changed to adoption, he was offered to P's family again. They'd been on the road to TPR for two years at that point and were looking at another two years before they could finalize with P.  I posted here about how that situation changed drastically, but no one had a crystal ball. We were told it would be 2-3 years before we could finalize. P's family just couldn't deal emotionally with starting at the beginning with L and I don't blame them at all.  There were many ups and downs that happened before we entered the picture. There were also the financial considerations of having two kids in daycare and adding another three years of daycare costs.  So L's adoption worker started looking for an adoptive home for L and somehow, through some miracle I don't understand, she found us.  

We had our second visit with P and his family today.  P is old enough to remember L from supervised visits that the two would have together with their biological dad.  I don't think there's the concept of "brother." Really, how could there be?  They never lived together and saw each other once a month at most.  L seems to be familiar with P, but I don't think there's a true memory there. More a sense of, "I think I may know you from somewhere so I'm not totally freaked out by you." They're two years apart, and so are in very different places developmentally.  They are both only children who don't particularly like to share their toys so it can make for some testy interactions.  There was pushing, toy wrestling, and hitting with toy parts today.  Maybe in some sense they do realize they're siblings after all!  Actually, siblings or not I think it's all completely normal, given their ages and their age difference. 

On the other hand, DH and I, and I think P's parents, enjoy the visits, probably much more than the boys do.  It's fascinating to compare notes.  How does he sleep?  What does he eat? What's biology?  What's environment?  Also, they are the only people who know what it's like to be adopting a child with this exact family background.  And it is a background with a lot of trauma and abuse.  Since P is older, they'll be breaking the ground of talking about adoption and birth family before we do so I hope we'll be able to learn from them.  

I'm not sure what the ultimate outcome of this relationship will be. Will the boys ever truly feel like brothers?  They'll know they're brothers, but how does that work when you don't live together or share any living parents? Will they feel comfortable talking to each other about their background, their feelings about adoption?  Will they be close friends? Will they feel burdened by the relationship--thinking they're supposed to feel one way but in reality feeling quite differently?  There's no way of answering any of those questions now.  I just know it's important to keep the door open to any possibility of a relationship the boys might have so that's what we're doing. 

We're going to get together with them again next week.  We've been invited by them to attend a family party because I guess, in some sense, we're family now. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

From the Mouths of Babes

L and I were at my sister's the other day.  My 5 year old niece, E, was playing with L.  He was smiling at her and clapping.  She was eating it up.  There have been a few jealousy issues in the past few weeks with E.  I've been her childless aunt for her entire life.  She and her sister always got a lot of attention from me and DH, so this new focus on L is a big change for her.  Things have definitely improved.  Her new coping mechanism is whenever my sister is paying attention to L, she comes to me and sits on my lap and cuddles or chats.  She says since L is getting her mommy's attention, he has to share his mommy's attention with her.  He's too little to even notice so it's working fine so far.   ;-)

Luckily, L is fascinated by E and, since she's an typically egocentric five year old, she's started to enjoy him much more because of that.  Today she remarked how cute he is.  Then she asked why the other people didn't want him.  She was genuinely curious and seemed a little confused because she's starting to like having him around.  Then she asked me if it's because he's trouble. . .if that's why he was left on the street.  

Talk about misconceptions!  That's the thing about little ones.  You think they understand something and then they say something that let's you know their understanding is so far off the mark.  First, my sister and I tried to figure out the trouble comment.  Apparently, her former babysitter used to call one of the other little girls, "Trouble McGillicutty" because she was always picking up things off the floor and getting into things.  She's about 6 months older than L.  We explained that her babysitter didn't mean the little girl was bad or really trouble.  She was doing what babies do.  The babysitter was joking. L is acting the way babies do, too.  He's not trouble.  He's normal.  E was like that when she was a baby, too. 

Then we moved on to her real question: Why did the other people not want him?  We explained that his parents actually wanted him very much, but they couldn't take care of him.  They didn't know how to keep him safe, maybe because their mommies and daddies didn't keep them safe when they were little. It wasn't L's fault that they didn't know how, but children need to be safe so a social worker (someone who's job it is to help children and families) took L from his family and put him in a safe place called a foster home while she tried to teach his parents the things they needed to do to keep L safe. Sadly, for lots of grown up reasons, L's parents weren't able to do what they needed to and still couldn't make safe choices.  Because every child needs a safe family, the social worker started looking for a family that L could grow up in where he would be safe and loved forever.  The family she picked was ours.  So actually he was wanted by lots of people.  

She seemed content with our answer at the moment, but I'm sure it will come up again.  At the very least it was good practice for when L starts asking these questions. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What's in a name?

So I'm going to fess up and admit that when I first heard our son's name, I thought it was terrible. Like white trash-misspelled-roll my eyes-terrible.  It is a name I would have NEVER chosen to give a child of mine.  It's a name very few people choose to give to their child---number 401 in popularity when I last checked. I won't share his name here yet, but I will say that he is named after a video game character. . .from a fighting game that his biological father liked to play. The name is misspelled (missing a letter) and the first and middle name are in reverse order of the video character. DH and I were sure we were going to change it.  Then we were told we couldn't until TPR was done, at which point it would be too late because TPR would take a couple of years and he would identify with the name by then.  Then we were told we could change it but had to be super-careful to always use his original name for all legal situations and to make sure he answered to his original name to some extent for visits with his biological father.  Then we were told we could completely change it when his biological father died.  

Now, here's the kicker: we're not going to change it.  We are changing his middle name to DH's grandfather's name, but we're keeping his first name. We're even keeping the spelling.*  We actually think it's pretty cool.  Yup, we've grown to like it.  It fits him.  His name has connotations of rebirth, rising from the ashes.** It's unique and it seems like part of him now.  So it stays. 

When we were considering adopting from foster care, the name issue was one of those things that bothered me.  I thought of all the time my pregnant friends have spent pouring over baby name books, looking up name meanings and trying different combinations.  It hurt that I might not have the chance to do that.  One more ritual among many that I wouldn't get to participate in---one last slap in the face by infertility. But you know what?  It's OK.  It really is.  Because no matter what his name is, he's my son.  And at this point that's all that matters to me. I know that's hokey, but it's true.  I also think that it's different when you're considering a name in the abstract: Which do I prefer? Henry or Evan?  Sofia or Ava?  But when the name is attached to a person, your opinion of it can change drastically.  There are several perfectly nice names that I can't stand because they remind me of  particular students (really more the parents of those students).  Our son has a name that I wasn't crazy about when I first heard it, but now because it's attached to him, I've come to love it.***

*My only regret is that people who first see his name will think DH and I can't spell or that were trying for a unique spelling on purpose. As a teacher, cute misspelled names are one of my pet peeves. We could change the spelling, but then people will think he was named after a city in which he was conceived and that's worse.  Plus, I think the current spelling is more masculine.

**If you're trying to figure out what it is, that's a big clue.  Think mythical. It doesn't begin with L.  That's my pseudonym (pseudoletter?) for him. 

***No offense to those who have changed their child's name. I completely understand. We've grown to love DS's name.  I've seen some on the listings that I think would be hard for me to learn to love and that would be hard for a child to live with when he gets older. I'm hoping DS is happy with his name as he gets older. 

Monday, October 26, 2009

I may not have given birth to him. . .

We had our first meeting with Early Intervention.  Our guy has a service plan in place from his previous placement so it was mostly a matter of paperwork.  The coordinator asked lots of questions about his prenatal and birth history.  I had received all the information at our disclosure meeting so was able to answer her questions pretty well.  

At one point, I noticed that she has recorded his  birth date incorrectly. She had written a day earlier than the actual date.  When I pointed it out to her, she actually argued with me a bit. "Oh, no. I saw it written on his records as __/__/__." She even started shifting through papers to show it to me.  Ummm, hello.  I may not have given birth to him, but I do know when he was born.  I am acutely aware that I missed his first birthday and I am very sure of when that date was because I was thinking about him all day (we hadn't started the transition yet).  

It turns out she found her paper and it listed the date I had told her.  How about that. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Weird Mix of Emotions

L's social worker visited today.  We talked a lot about L's biological father, J, and how his death has changed the process.  She said that rather than looking at 2-3 years to finalization, L should be legally free in several months and that we should be able to finalize by this summer.  There is a possibility that one of L's maternal relatives could come forward now that J is out of the picture, but it's highly unlikely.  Most relatives on both sides are not suitable because they either have substantiated child abuse complaints filed against them or they have criminal records. There are a couple who would be appropriate, but the Department heavily recruited biological relatives when L was placed in care a year ago and there was absolutely no interest.  At this point, the state is obligated to consider biological relatives, but isn't obligated to place L with them.  You can imagine the relief we felt at hearing that. 

DH and I have decided to send flowers to the funeral home when J's body is released to them. We hope it will help L when he gets older to know that we/he did this for his biological father. We talked a lot with the social worker today about how to process this with L when he's older.  She suggested making sure that we talk about it all along.  If a friend's grandmother dies, for example, she said we could mention how J and R (L's biological mother) are in heaven, too.  The big idea is to make sure it's not secret or shameful since L has nothing to be ashamed of in regard to the circumstances of his birth or of his biological parents' deaths.  I'm also not sharing details of his parents' deaths so we can share that information with L when he's ready and it doesn't come from a cousin who overheard the grownups talking. 

This whole situation has created a strange mix of emotions in me.  J was not someone who made good choices in life and there were safety concerns for all involved in this case due to his past behavior.  There was no chance of an open adoption in this situation because of those safety concerns. I certainly didn't wish J dead, but a part of me is glad that I won't have to worry about L being tracked down by J as he gets older and that we won't have to spend the next 2-3 years in court.  I wish J had just realized that he couldn't care for L and terminated his rights voluntarily. I also realize that J was an abused child at one time and was failed by the system.  He was like L, but he kept being moved from foster home to foster home or returned to abusive parents instead of being adopted as a young child.  In many ways, the system messed him up, or allowed his family to mess him up, and then stepped in to take away what mattered most to him because he was too messed up. Again, I'm just so grateful that cycle is broken for L.  

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Major Turn of Events

We found out today that our baby boy's biological father died this past weekend. His biological mother is already deceased.  Both were products of the system (abuse, neglect, foster care) and had many life-long issues because of that.  Their early deaths are sad, but not shocking. Our son is now legally an orphan. I don't know what that means in regard to our attempt to adopt L. Our social worker is coming later this week for a visit and I'm sure we'll have more answers then. Tonight, I'm just going to reflect on the life of a young man who fathered a beautiful boy but, because of being terribly wounded as a child, was unable to be a father to him. I am so glad our L won't have to continue the cycle. 

I'm just stunned right now. 

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Our son has been living with us full-time for almost 2 weeks now. I don't have the words to express how lucky I feel to have this little boy in my life. I've had people tell me that we deserve this because we tried for a while, had multiple failed IVFs, etc (nothing compared to what some have been through). But I know that I have never done anything in my life that would make me deserving of this amazing gift I've been given. I am so grateful that, although completely unworthy,  I get to wake up every morning and spend the day with my little guy. He is pure sunshine. When he first wakes up, I like to listen to him for a few minutes via the baby monitor. He usually spends some time talking to himself and turning on his crib soother music. I love listening to his babbling, always hoping for the word Mama to come out at some point of course (still waiting right now although I'm pretty sure I'm hearing "Hi" every morning). When I go into his room, he flashes me a huge smile and every time he does I'm overwhelmed with gratitude.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Come Monday. . .

I know that I've been horrible about posting. I've been even worse about commenting and I apologize for that. I have been checking my google reader regularly. I hope to catch up on comments soon once we get into a regular routine.

My big news is that Monday is the day our little guy, L., will come to stay with us---forever we hope*. We've had him over our house every day for the past four days and he seems to be adjusting well. We pick him up at his foster home in the morning, bring him to our house (he usually naps during the 45 minute drive), play with him for a while, feed him lunch, put him in his crib to nap around mid-afternoon, play with him some more, take him for a walk with the dogs, and then bring him back to his foster home around supper time. The bringing him back is the hardest part, but we've been going with a slower transition, on the advice of the social worker, in the hopes that it will help him adjust better in the end.

So far, so good. He's happy to see us when we pick him up and comes with us easily. He eats well for us. He sleeps well for us. He's able to be comforted by us if he gets upset. Those are all positive signs in terms of attachment. Today was a little more challenging because he has a cold and I could tell he just felt lousy. Still, he was happy for most of the day, until he threw up all over the giant teddy bear DH bought for him. Although I wish he were here to stay already, I'm kind of glad his first night isn't tonight because I'm guessing it won't be a great one for him. Next time he's sick he'll be all ours, but I'd rather not have his first night with us be miserable for him. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he feels better on Monday.

Our biggest challenge, and in the scheme of things it's relatively small, has been diapering. He HATES to have his diaper or clothes changed. I mean, resists laying down, screams until it's over, wriggles away as much as possible. It doesn't appear to be a sensory issue (in that clothes are uncomfortable for him) because he's fine once he's actually dressed. He's little but he's strong so it really is more challenging than it sounds. Of course, it doesn't help that I'm afraid to hurt him by holding on too tight or that I'm out of practice when it comes to diapering so I'm rather slow. We decided not to get a changing table which I'm glad for now because there's no way I would feel safe with him on it. I change him on a pad on the floor. The only thing that makes me feel better about this is that he acts the same way with his foster mothers, so I know it's not just me. I'm going to try introducing a special toy to distract him during diaper time. Hopefully that combined with me getting faster will help. I'm also thinking about changing him on the bed so it's not so easy to crawl away. I'm open to any suggestions.

I'll update again after our first night.

*A note about the legal situation: L is not legally free for adoption. His is a legal risk placement. His goal is adoption because the state has determined that his biological father is unable to care for him, even with support. The state is moving to terminate his biological father's parental rights, however that could take a year or even more. The risk is that a judge may decide against the state and reunify L with his biological father. This is highly unlikely for several reasons which I can't go into for privacy's sake. However, there is always the possibility, hence the risk. The other risk factor is that a family member of L's biological father or biological mother could come forward and request custody. But as the social worker said, "It could happen, but it won't." Again, I can't go into the reasons for her opinion, but DH and I have decided to trust in it. We had originally hoped to have a legally free placement and were open to older children for that reason. But when this placement came along it just felt right to us, in spite of being the total opposite of what we had originally hoped for. Go figure.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

We Met Him!

We met Baby Boy yesterday. It wasn't like a meeting you'd see in a Lif.etime movie, but it was still amazing. He's cutting teeth (it looks like the whole top rack is coming in at once), he didn't have his nap, and he's developed stranger anxiety, so he was not in the best mood. However, he tends toward happy so he'd look at us and start laughing and playing. Then he'd suddenly remember he didn't know us and the laugh would turn into a cry midstream. It was sad but cute. It's actually good that he has stranger anxiety because it means that he's attached to his foster mom. If he didn't have an attachment it would be worrying. It means that he's capable of forming healthy attachments and, with time, he'll be able to form one with us.

We went back today to feed him lunch and it was much better. We'd left a little plastic photo book with pictures of us and the dogs for him to look at. When we walked in, his foster mom said, "Baby Boy, Mommy and Daddy are here." I got goosebumps. He came crawling out, right over to me and touched my foot (it's at his level after all). He seemed to remember us, and not as the scary people from yesterday, but in a good way. We ended up playing with him in the family room by ourselves for a while. The foster mom started in there with us, but quietly left after a few minutes. BB had no problem at all. At one point, he laid back in DH's lap and just looked up at him. DH started tickling BB's tummy while he was leaning back and BB just giggled and giggled. I don't know if I've ever been so happy. I can't imagine my heart could be any more full.

We had to leave to head to our third baby shower in two weeks (we've been blessed by the generosity and excitement of our family and friends during this time) and made plans to come back tomorrow after work. The foster mom thinks we could take him for an outing on Tuesday. I can't wait!

Through all of this, I keep telling myself that this is really happening. IF has trained me to expect the worst so there's a part of me that is waiting for the other shoe to drop. I'm working hard to keep that part of me at bay. This is too good to ruin with pessimism.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

3 weeks

I want to write about our meeting today, but I'm too tired. I'll share more this weekend. The most important outcome of the meeting is a timeline: In three weeks, we'll meet Baby Boy and begin transitioning him to our home! He'll be with us full-time by the end of the month. I have to pinch myself. Is this really happening?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Meeting Tomorrow

Just a quick update: DH and I have a meeting with the social worker tomorrow afternoon. We're going to sketch out a timeline then. She said the transition will probably be quite short (only a week or so) once it gets started so we should make sure to wait until we're ready before we begin. We're thinking a few weeks at the most. :D

Monday, August 31, 2009

We're doing it!

Today DH called the social worker and told her we've decided to go forward with the placement of Baby Boy. We're going to have a son!!!!! We got a lot of information at disclosure and I was able to call the developmental specialists who work with Baby Boy. They work with many young children with autism and they have "absolutely no concerns about autism" with him. He's very social and interactive, has great eye contact, no tactile defensiveness. They said he does headbang from time to time, but they feel it's out of boredom. They even feel that the delays he has, which are mild, will catch up with support. They talked about what a lovey he is. Baby Boy's foster mom had only positive things to say as well.

It is legal risk, but it sounds like there's an excellent case being built for TPR. It feels right so we're going for it.

When I talk with the social worker tomorrow, I'll get more information about the transition and the timeline.

My head is spinning right now--in a wonderful way.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ambiguity Is My Middle Name

Our disclosure meeting is scheduled for the end of this week. Our families have been going a little nutty, talking about cribs and toys and becoming aunties. I guess everyone gets extra excited about a baby.

We haven't told them that the child's case worker called us at the end of last week and told us that Early Intervention has been looking at Baby Boy as possibly having autism. This is the same worker who went on about how on target Baby Boy is and how she would take him home if she could. She said she just found out when she received a recent report. However, she says he's improving. He was identified as having low muscle tone (which has gone to the normal range with PT), self-stimulating behavior (didn't specify what-flapping, head banging, rocking, tensing, staring at lights?-but did say it has almost completely gone away), and delayed language skills (at a six month level so three to four months behind; however also improving with EI speech support). Either she had no clue what those possibly added up to or she doesn't know him as well as she seemed to.

One of my best friends has a child with autism who was diagnosed at 15 months. I remember her telling me when he was 10 months old that she had a feeling something wasn't right. I called her right away. She said the above are all signs of autism, but that most kids have some autistic tendencies at some point. Both her children had low muscle tone and both her children self-stimmed (one by tensing, staring at shiny objects; the other by staring at ceiling fans) but only one has autism. She said if the self-stimming is truly almost completely gone, that's a good thing. Kids with autism always have some kind of stim. If one goes away, another replaces it. Her son has gone through about 15 different ones. She also wasn't that phased by the language delay because supposedly his language is improving quickly with EI speech therapy. She said it took her son a year of much more intensive hospital-based speech therapy to just be able to get the concept of yes and no. She has offered to read the EI reports for me when we get them and suggest some specific questions to ask the therapists and the foster mother.

The child's worker said she will give us the name of a specialist at a prominent children's hospital in our area so we can consult with him as well. And of course, she reiterated that there are no guarantees. She said if we had a biological child, he could be facing the same profile.

The last part was more than a little annoying. Adoption is different than having a biological child. If your biological child has autism, you have no choice--you deal with it. Choosing to adopt a child that is being looked at as having autism is not the same. We would be taking a risk with enormous consequences. We would possibly be choosing to go down a road that is extraordinarily difficult. I love my friend's son, but I've seen the struggles he has been through just to be able to communicate on a basic level. I've seen how autism has affected my friend's marriage. I've seen how her view of the world has changed. I've seen her exhausted, scratched and bruised, frustrated because she can't get through to her boy. She told me she loves her son, but there is no way she would be doing this if she had a choice.

The recent news has made us pull back a bit more from the situation. Along with our families, DH and I were starting to fantasize about having an infant around. We had pretty much decided we were going to take the placement and just deal with the legal risk piece. We were thinking about bedding and peeking at the baby clothes when we walked by them. We're feeling more cautious now. Again, we're not looking for a perfect child, but fetal alcohol syndrome and autism are two disabilities to which very few people would say bring it on. This may still be our child, but we're not as sure as before.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Knowledge is Power. . .Maybe

DH spoke with the child's worker today. Baby Boy is actually nine months old. He's been in care for eight months. His foster mother is an older lady who specializes in fostering infants, but is not interested in adoption. The father is a pretty bad guy. There are some safety concerns and the social worker told us they will not share any of our information with the father. There are no interested family members. The Department wants to make sure any family who takes Baby Boy is willing to maintain contact with the older brother. The social worker said she told her husband she wanted to adopt Baby Boy herself, but he wouldn't go for it. ;) We're going to schedule a disclosure meeting sometime in the next two weeks.

I've always been freaked out by the prospect of a legal risk placement, but for some reason I am strangely calm about this situation. I don't know if I'm in denial or if it's just "right."

I'm probably in denial.

I guess time will tell.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Another One

We got another call today. This one was regarding a one-year -old boy. The child is placed through a different office than ours so our worker didn't know much about the situation. DH called and left a message with the child's worker. We're hoping to hear more tomorrow. All we know right now is that it is a legal risk placement. That means that the birthparents' parental rights have not yet been terminated. The state is moving to do so. There is also a three-year-old brother in care but his current pre-adoptive parents are not interested in adopting the younger brother. The birth mother is out of the picture completely, as in deceased. The birth father is fighting TPR (Termination of Parental Rights). We're not sure how long this has been going on, how well the birth father is working his case plan, why the child was removed, etc. I'll post when we know more.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Right Thing

I spoke with little guy's pediatrician and she eased my mind about some of my FASD concerns.  She thinks most of his issues are due to him being a preemie.  There may be some neurological issues but she doesn't think it's FASD. That sounds simple enough, but my conversation with her added another layer to this issue. 

It turns out that she knows the little guy very well because her kids go to daycare with him.  His foster mother works at the daycare and has taken care of the pediatrician's kids.  She talked up Foster Mom  quite a bit to me: how hard she's been working with him, how much she cares for him, how he's improved so much through her effort. I don't think she knew about the legal issues.  It seemed like she was just trying to tell me that he'd been in a good home and was well taken care of. The more she talked, the more I felt like little guy should stay with his foster mom. He has made a lot of progress and disrupting his life now would be devastating. 

It would be one thing if Foster Mom still wouldn't commit to him, but she has hired a lawyer and has requested to adopt him, although in the wrong court.  The Department doesn't trust her, but I also get a sense that they're really pissed at her for pushing them so hard, too.  DH and I were beginning to question the ethics of helping to remove this little boy from the only home he remembers and where he's not abused or neglected in any way. Rather, he's well loved and having all his needs met.  If we did adopt him, could we look him in the eye when he's older and explain why his foster mother couldn't keep him?  Would we doing the best thing for this child or would we be letting our own hunger for a child convince us to do less than the best for him?  

Those were the questions we were asking ourselves last night.  This morning we got a call from the child's worker informing us that the District Attorney's Office is going to take over the case from the Department.  Foster mother had asked for an injunction to prevent the Department from removing the child.  The DA doesn't feel that the Department has a strong case right now.  They want the foster mother to be homestudied.    It's going to take a while-several months at least, the worker told us.  He said he knows the new information will have an impact on our decision. He apologized.  

We've decided to bow out of this situation.  It seems like the right thing to do.  

Saturday, August 8, 2009

More information, more confusion

I know some people have been waiting for an update and I apologize for not posting one sooner.  We had our disclosure meeting two days ago and it hasn't make our decision isn't any easier.  I have a 3 inch stack of medical records and evaluations to read over and I have to call the pediatrician, the department's attorney, the child's attorney, and the daycare provider. We left the meeting with two weeks to make our decision so we now have about 12 days left.  Tomorrow morning,  DH and I are heading up north for a few days.  I'm going to read and take notes, in between boating, playing with my nieces, and eating good food.  I'll start making phone calls on Monday.  

The highlights of the meeting were:

1) Foster mom is now fighting hard to keep the child.  She has hired an attorney.  She has asked for an injunction.  It's not clear what standing a judge will give her in the case.  The Department's point of view is that she has had 3 years to adopt this child and they do not trust her ability to commit to him at this point. They think she's still torn between wanting to keep him and knowing she's not able to do so financially or emotionally. The child's attorney supports the Department's decision.  We plan to talk to the Department's attorney to find out more about the legal standing of all the parties.  We hope to talk to the child's attorney to confirm her support of the Department. 

2) The little guy has some cognitive delays, which so far appear mild, and he is pretty hyperactive.  He also has difficulty focusing for more than short periods of time.  It may be ADHD.  It may be the after-effects of being prenatally exposed to cocaine and, because of mom's addiction, being born almost 8 weeks premature.  It may be that, in addition to smoking crack, mom drank while pregnant and he has FASD.  

That last possibility is the most worrying to me. The birth history in the evaluations say mom possibly drank while pregnant. This isn't confirmed in hospital records and it's not clear where this notion came from, but it does make sense.  A woman who uses crack while pregnant is not likely to say no to alcohol.  Little Guy doesn't have the facial features of FASD (with the exception of a thinner top lip), but I know that the facial features are only present if mom drank heavily during the first trimester.  The most heartbreaking part of FASD, the brain damage, happens throughout pregnancy and can be present without the facial features.   He has many characteristics of the neurological damage of FASD.  At the same time, he has many characteristics of ADHD.  FASD is often first misdiagnosed as ADHD. I know kids with FASD can have good lives, but the reality is that dealing with FASD gets harder as kids get older and most are not able to live independently. We would tackle the job of raising a child with FASD if we adopted a child and later found out he had FASD, but it's not something we would choose to take on.  It's the reason we previously turned down the placement of the two year old girl. ADHD, learning delays, developmental delays, motor issues, allergies-these I can do. 

I don't know why, but I didn't think this would be so hard.  With the legal issue ongoing and the possibility of FASD, I really don't know what our decision will be. I hope that talking to Little Guy's pediatrician and the attorneys will give me a few more answers. What I would give for a crystal ball right now!  

Oh, and Little Guy looks like a total cutie in his photos. 

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Good Fortune

DH and I had Chinese for dinner tonight.  These were our fortunes:

His. . .Organize your life around your dreams-and watch them come true. 

Mine. . .The path is getting easier from here on out. Luck is helping. 

Not bad, huh? If all this works out, I'm going to frame these suckers. Seriously. 

If it doesn't, I might burn them.  OK, probably not, but it will cross my mind.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Update: The Next Step

We talked with the little boy's case worker today and have scheduled a disclosure meeting as the next step in the process.  It will take place in three weeks. At the disclosure meeting, we'll get to look at all the records and get releases giving us permission to contact the pediatrician and other caretakers. They're not expecting the foster parent to be there due to the contentiousness of the situation.  After the disclosure meeting we'll have a couple of days to think about it and make our decision. 

The worker did go over the timeline of this child's situation and the numerous opportunities the little guy's foster mom has been given to adopt him.  She's turned down every chance but doesn't want him adopted by anyone else either. Apparently, the subsidy, or lack thereof, is the sticking point for her.   If she adopts him, she would lose the monthly foster care payment from the Department unless he's determined to have special needs, which at this point several evaluations state he doesn't have.  If he had special needs and would get a subsidy after adoption, then she would have finalized already. She says she can't afford to keep him without the extra money. On the one hand I feel bad for her because it must be hard to think about giving up the child you've been raising for four years due to money.  On the other hand, most people don't get paid to parent their own kids, and when you adopt that child becomes your own kid.  Plus, I have a couple of friends who have children with significant special needs and it seems wrong to want your child to fall into that category.  Finally, it's really not that much money per month and I think I'd sacrifice just about anything to keep him if I were in her situation.  It's sad all around.

The legal questions aren't entirely answered to our satisfaction at this point either, but we're going to keep looking into it before the disclosure meeting.  

Ultimately, everything is still up in the air for now. 

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Hold On Tight, Folks!

***I know this post is incredibly long, but writing everything down helps me to process all of it***

We got another call, Friday night at 4:52 PM. I've heard so much about THE call, but that's not how it works when you adopt from foster care.  At least that's not how it's worked for us. It's been multiple calls with lots of follow up calls.  This new one concerns a little boy.  He sounds like a wonderful kid. He's developmentally on target in all areas, doing well in preschool, gets along with his peers, a little active but no behavior issues to speak of, able to form attachments. When we signed up to adopt from foster care, DH and I knew that most of the kids in care have experienced some kind of trauma and as a result often have behavioral, emotional, and physical issues. It was drilled into us during our adoption classes: "Our kids are great kids, but they have lots of challenges." We've put a lot of thought into clarifying what we're prepared to handle and what we feel is beyond us.  We're not looking for a perfect child. We know there's no such thing, no matter how a child enters your family. 

The profile of this particular child doesn't fit what we were expecting to hear.  Of course, he's not perfect but has no behavioral issues, no emotional issues, no physical issues. . .and he's legally free for adoption.  There should be people lined up to adopt this child. Then our worker mentioned that he's been in foster care with the same foster family since he was an infant and has been legally free for over two years.  

Me: Wait a second. He's been legally free for over two years and the family he's been with for four years hasn't adopted him.  What's up with that?

Our Worker: Oh, you noticed that (chuckle, chuckle). Well,  I was going to get to that.  His foster mother has been given time to consider adopting him, but she wants more evaluations before deciding.  He's already been evaluated multiple times (mentioned the names of the hospitals) and found to have no problems every time.  She still won't commit to adopting him so we're moving on with finding a permanent family for him. 

Me: Is she OK with that?  

Our Worker: Hmmm. Well, uh, not exactly.  She doesn't want to adopt him, but she doesn't want him removed. She appealed the decision and lost, so now she has no choice. She says she's going to get a lawyer and sue the Department to become his guardian (though not to adopt him) but we don't know yet if that will happen. 

Me: And if she does. . .?

Our Worker: Well, technically, it would be a legally free placement, but it's more like legal risk.  We've given her plenty of time. too much time, so I don't see how she can win, but there is a chance. Are you interested? Think about it over the weekend and let me know.  

I have multiple concerns/thoughts/questions running through my mind:

#1 Clearly this child would be better off staying with his current family if they would have him.  He's been with them for four years!  Why isn't foster mom adopting him?  Are there more issues than his file shows and she's just being an advocate for him?  Or is this about getting him classified as having special needs so he can receive a subsidy after adoption (I hate to even think that one)?  Why won't the Department just give her what she wants so this little guy can stay with her?  Is there more to her than they're telling us?

#2 What's the likelihood that this foster mother could win custody at some point in the future? We're willing to accept legal risk placements (when the birthparents rights haven't yet been terminated, but the state is moving to legally do so).  Very few TPR (termination of parental rights) petitions are denied in my state once the state gets to that point. This current legal situation is one that I know nothing about.  What kind of rights does the foster parent have?  Not to mention that TPR is easier to support because birthparents have been given multiple chances to get it together enough to parent their kids.  They're not able to provide a healthy environment for their children.  This woman has apparently been doing a great job with this child so far.  And then, there's the fact that I don't want to disrupt this child's life only to have a judge return him to his foster parent in a year.  I don't want to disrupt my life only to lose the child back to his current placement (which is where it sounds like he should be if she'll adopt him).

#3 Our worker described this child as having an attachment to his foster mother.  I know that's always a good thing because it means he is able to form healthy attachments.  However, I've also read that a poorly done transition can do a job on a child, even one who's had solid attachments to that point.  Ideally, the transition should take time and involve the foster parent and adoptive parent sharing tasks as the adoptive parent slowly takes over. It doesn't sound like that would be possible in this situation.  It sounds like the bond would be abruptly broken.  I can imagine it might not be at all pretty.  DH and I think we can deal with the immediate consequences (I hate you, You're not my real mom, regression, etc).  It would be like what many foster parents deal with when a child is first removed from his or her birth home and placed with them. What I worry about are the long-term consequences for this child and his ability to form future attachments.  

#4 Why us? Other than the fact that we're a couple of awesome people, why did they choose us for this situation?  Are we just a prod to get the foster mother to ante up and decide to adopt this child?  I can deal with that, but I'd like to know if that's the case. Is it because we're new to the process and might not know to be nervous about the legal issues?  

#5 What will it be like to be instant mommy to an almost five year old boy?  I'd need to study up on five year olds.  What time do they go to bed?  Do they bathe themselves? What kind of car seat do they need?  I know, I know, I'm getting ahead of myself. 

DH and I have decided to take the opportunity offered to us to speak with the child's worker tomorrow and ask some of those questions.  

So more phone calls.  

And another roller coaster ride. Here we go!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Just Call Me Chicken Little

I had my pelvic MRI at 3:45 in the morning yesterday.  I got the call today from my Nurse Practitioner.  It turns out that what looked like a complex cyst on the ultrasound is actually a simple cyst on the MRI.  It's about 1.8 cm.  My cycles have been totally screwy (24 days, 21 days, 3o days, 14 days) and I have pretty much constant pain (like someone poking a blister) in my lower right pelvic area.  However, according to the MRI  it's not a mucinous cystadenoma and it's not something worse than that.  I suppose a small simple cyst can cause those symptoms; the other cysts I had after various IUIs and IVFs were pretty asymptomatic. The NP suggested I try low dose birth control pills to try to clear up the cyst and see if that helps all the other stuff.  So that's my next step.  BCPs for a couple of months and then another visit to the NP and probably another ultrasound at that time.   

I want to write more about my reasons (family history and the aftermath of multiple failed IVFs) for being so nervous about the possibility of ovarian cancer, but I'll have to save that for next time.  DH and I are leaving to go camping for a few days and I'm leaving my laptop at home.  That's a first for me and  I think it's about time. I'm looking forward to a few stress-free days!

Friday, July 3, 2009


I've always been a worrier.  As of yesterday I have new reason to worry.  I've been having some lower abdominal discomfort.  It feels like I have a canker sore in my ovary that someone pokes every once in while.  It's not exactly a sharp pain, but it's not an ache either. There's also been a weird fullness or pressure in the area. I've been having some GI distress for the last couple of months.  And for the last two months my periods have gotten weird, varying lengths and lighter, but with some cramps for weeks ahead of time.  My PCP was pushing the Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) angle, but I wasn't completely sold on it.  I asked for an ultrasound because I worried I might have another mucinous cystadenoma.  My left ovary was removed about 2 1/2 years ago due to one.  If was after that removal that my FSH jumped and my fertility went downhill quickly. 

Yesterday afternoon, I had my date with the dildocam.  The GYN nurse practitioner filling in for mine called last evening to let me know that I have a complex cyst on my right ovary.  She said they think it's likely an endometrioma or a hemorrhagic cyst.  Of course, those are the exact words used by my RE when she first discovered the cyst on my left ovary, which turned out to be neither of those possibilities.  I went to surgery thinking I was going to get rid of some endo and woke up without an  ovary.  This time I feel like my most likely, and best case, scenario is a mucinous cystadenoma.  Pessimist that I am (beating the infertility odds on the negative side every time tends to squeeze the optimism out of you), I've been googling the worst case scenario, too.  Apparently, there's about a 6% chance that a complex cyst is cancerous. 

The next step is to talk to my regular nurse practitioner when she gets back on Tuesday.  I was told she'll probably want to schedule an MRI.  Personally, I feel like telling her to screw the MRI; just schedule the f&%#ing surgery.  They're going to need to operate anyway for a complex cyst and I want it out, O-U-T, OUT.  I'm not thrilled at the thought of surgical menopause, but the idea that it could be even worse than a mucinous cystadenoma, that it could the the big C, is way more frightening than hot flashes.  

How messed up is it that right next to dying, my biggest worry about all of this is that it will keep us from adopting? 

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Not Ours

The little boy I wrote about in my last post was placed with a kinship placement. His sibling's adoptive parents decided to take him. DH and I know it's the best thing for the little guy to be with his sibling, but we're a little sad that he wasn't meant to be our child. DH is more upset than I am. Before our homestudy was complete, he thought I was going to give my heart away to every child presented to us. It turns out that I'm more cautious, while he starts imagining trips to Disneyland and camping and buying toy trains immediately after the first phone call. I guard my heart more closely.  I guess the cycle of hope and disappointment from our failed IVF cycles has made me more self-protective.  I gave a bit of my heart away to every one of our embryos and I never got those pieces back. I'm not giving away any more until I know for sure that we're bringing home a child. 

I appreciate all the encouraging words when I wrote about this latest potential placement.  I feel a little bit like "the boy who cried wolf" when I share situations that don't work out.  I considered waiting until we got a confirmed placement before sharing on here, but I think I would go crazy if I had to keep it all to myself.  If you're going to keep reading, you might be on this roller coaster with me for a while.  I really do appreciate the company.  

Monday, June 29, 2009

Another Possibility

We decided to submit our homestudy today for another child. It's an almost four year old child who is legally free for adoption. He came up as part of a matching process through a local organization that helps promote adoption from foster care. It turns out that he's being placed from the same office at which we did our MAPP training. His worker was one of our MAPP trainers. I don't want to go into lots of detail but this little guy has lots of food allergies and intolerances that would need to be accommodated. DH and I have several friends who have children with food allergies and special diets. We see our friends do it and feel that we could handle it.

The hitch is that there's a possibility of a kinship placement so we may be out of the running already. I'll keep you posted.

A Happy Surprise

I wrote before about how my district has two completely different maternity leave policies for those who adopt a child vs. those who birth one. Women who give birth can use up to 40 paid sick days toward a maternity leave. Women who adopt can't use any paid time.

I brought the issue to the attention of my union because it was pointed out to me by the administration that the reason I was denied was due to contract language.* Most involved in the union were completely unaware of the distinction that our contract made between adoption and birth. The policy has been there for a while, but few have tested it and all believed our administration had the discretion to offer more leave to teachers if they chose. There was a lot of outrage and disbelief and many apologies.

Well, this was a negotiation year and I just found out that our new contract will include a maternity leave provision for adoption that is exactly the same as that for childbirth. We're not getting much else due to the state of the economy, but this was one language change that our union pushed for and that our school committee completely supported.

What does this mean for me? It means that if DH and I get a placement during the school year, I'll be able to take 8 weeks of paid leave, using 40 of my 120-odd sick days. It means that we won't lose two months of income and DH won't have to work like a dog to make up for that. It means that I won't feel like a second-class citizen compared to my coworkers just because I'm adopting. It means less resentment, less jealousy. It means I will get to spend time with our new child, easing the transition, without worrying about money. It feels like a validation of our way to build a family.

Of course, if we get a placement this summer then I won't have the opportunity to use any of this paid time since I'm already off, but that's a trade I'd be more than willing to make.

*I know there are lots of different opinions about the advantages/disadvantages of unions, but I've always been a union supporter. It's a result of my working-class background. However, I am not someone who has ever worked only to a contract. I take pride in my profession and have always gone well above and beyond what was required, as do all the teachers I know. That's why it felt even more like a slap in the face when the contract language was used as a reason to deny me paid leave.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

How Easy It Is

Isn't it always the way that when you think you're doing fine, something happens to knock you back a little?  Well, it feels that way to me anyway.  I've been doing really well.  The hellish, baby mega-shower/goodbye party turned out to be not so hellish and not so mega.  Two of the moms-to-be didn't come, there was lots of good food and good drink, and the focus ended up being more on my friend who is leaving than on the baby part.  Even a pregnancy announcement earlier in the week from yet another coworker (I kid you not-apparently I work in Fertility, USA) couldn't break me.

Until tonight, when I saw an update on Facebook from another former coworker, now a SAHM who occasionally substitutes at our school,  about her baby bump.   I suspected she was pregnant, but nobody actually told me. In fact, several people denied it so I figured my instincts were off.  Maybe I wanted to be wrong.  You see, this is #2 for her.  It's also # 2 for another one of the pregnant coworkers, due in September.  Besides being pregnant with a second child, the other thing the two of them have in common is that they both got married the same month I did.  We planned our weddings together, talking over lunch about dresses and flowers and honeymoon locations.  Our anniversaries are weeks apart.  In fact, we all have four-year anniversaries coming up next month. . . and they're both, BOTH, on their way to having their second child while I'm still waiting for our first. 

It's at times like these when I feel like there's something damaged inside me, something that I keep pretty well hidden. And then an unexpected pregnancy announcement from a particular person happens, hits the tender spot,  all the pain comes up again, and I can't keep hiding it.    I'm revealed to myself for the wreck that I am. 

I'm just so tired of it all.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

We Said No

We decided to not pursue the possible match with the little girl from my last post.  After speaking with her caseworker, it became apparent that she has multiple significant delays beyond what we feel we can handle.  I have to believe that the right family will be found for this little one and that our child will come our way eventually.  It makes me sad that this child's life will be forever affected by her mother's choices when pregnant with her.  She deserves better, but we don't feel we're the ones who can give it to her. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

We got a call

but don't get too excited for us yet.  DH talked with our social worker this afternoon.  He was calling about a two year old girl.  It's a legal risk situation, but we can deal with that.  Remind me to write a post about what "legal risk" means when adopting from foster care.  The part that's holding us back is that they suspect she has fetal alcohol syndrome.  There's some testing going on now.  We're trying to get more information.  Given what I know about fetal alcohol syndrome, I don't know if we can take that on.  I need to go do some research.  

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mind Tricks

I was at the copy machine the other day (I really don't spend an excessive amount of time copying, despite appearances to the contrary. It was my turn to copy homework for the week). I was looking around, zoning out because copying is boring, when I saw one of my former students working in his classroom. I noticed how much he's changed in only three years, and I started thinking about former students who are even older. I thought about times when I've run into them and didn't recognize some of them. Some look exactly the same but bigger, while others look entirely different than when I had them in first grade. Many are shaving and their voices have changed. Some are even driving, which is a trip because in my mind's eye they're still trying to figure out how to tie their own shoes.

For some reason, I started imagining my own (someday) son as a teenager, wondering what he would look like, about how it would feel to hug a nearly-grown man while remembering when he could fit in my lap. I wondered if the student I was seeing in his classroom at that moment looked like a combination of his mom and dad. I pictured his parents and decided he did look exactly like that. My mind turned to our child and I wondered again what our (someday) son would look like. I hoped that he would look like my handsome DH. I pictured DH's face in the photos I've seen of him as a teenager and then pictured that face on the nearly-grown man that would be my son.

Suddenly all such thinking screeched to a halt when one part of my mind caught up with the other. I realized that our son won't look like DH or some combination of DH and me. We're adopting so our son will look like some mix of his birthparents, not us. How could I have forgotten that? I could only laugh a little at myself. I think I actually said, "Duh!" out loud. It's not a word I use often but it seemed to fit the moment.  It's amazing the tricks your mind can play on you. Maybe it was just the copy machine-one more reason to stay away from it . . .

Saturday, May 2, 2009


This is hilarious, especially in light of my experiences with my pregnant coworker. I hope this doesn't offend any of my currently pregnant, previously pregnant, or soon-to-be pregnant readers, but I laughed until I peed when I saw this. That doesn't happen often and I just had to share. Of course, I don't think this applies to all pregnant women-certainly not to any who read this blog.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Long Shot

We submitted our homestudy for the first time yesterday.  The child is an 18-month old boy who is legally free and has "mild" physical and emotional needs (whatever that means since mild for one person might be nothing for another). I found the child on an adoption resource website.  I was surprised his profile was even on there because usually this adoption site is for children for whom it's harder to find families, like older children and children with significant special needs. Almost all of the children are legal risk placements.  I'm wondering if there was some kind of mistake. The supervisor said she forwarded our homestudy to the child's worker and that a number of homestudies have been submitted for consideration.  I bet! I'm sure that's an enormous understatement. 

That all adds up to this: we have pretty much no chance to be matched with him.  Why? This isn't the office that did our homestudy, and I'm sure they have lots of their own families who've been waiting.  Surely, the child will be matched with a family that the worker knows through MAPP classes or from doing their homestudy.  They're buried in homestudies at the moment which means there's a stay-at-home mom in there somewhere.  Seriously, I'd prefer to be a stay-at-home mom, at least until our child is 3 or so, so I'd understand if they preferred to place this child with one. 

Bottom line: I'm not getting my hopes up, but it's nice to be able to have a shot, even if it's a only a long shot. 

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Useless Calculations

Why did I bother figuring out all of this?   Maybe it's seeing women who started the IVF process with me contemplate when to start working on Baby #2.  Maybe it's because there have been times recently on a couple of message boards I frequent when a woman has posted about her child's first birthday or taking his first steps, and I've thought, "Wait.  I remember when she announced her BFP.  How can her child be that old already?"  Maybe it's a friend telling me that I have no clue how much having a child is going to change my life. I thought, "Have you totally forgotten how long I've been waiting for that change? Where have you been for the last four years? I'm looking forward to it, even if it is overwhelming!" Maybe it's simply because I've never been pregnant/never will be pregnant and this is my only chance to use a due date calculator. Here are some of my almost-but-not-quite due dates.

If our first cycle trying had ended with a BFP and a healthy baby, I would have been due on May 10, 2006 and be the mother of an almost 3 year old. 

If our first IUI had ended with a BFP and a healthy baby, I would have been due on July 6, 2007 and be the mother of an almost 2 year old. 

If our first injectable IUI cycle had ended with a BFP and a healthy baby, I would have been due on January 19, 2008 and be the mother of a 15 month old. 

If IVF#1 had ended with a BFP and a healthy baby, I would have been due on  May 19, 2008 and be the mother of a 10 1/2 month old. 

If IVF/IUI #2 had ended with a BFP and a healthy baby, I would have been due on July 4, 2008 and be the mother of a 9 month old

If IVF/IUI#3 had ended with a BFP and a healthy baby, I would have been due on September 23, 2008 and be the mother of a 6 1/2 month old. 

If IVF#4 had ended with a BFP and a healthy baby, I would have been due on January 30, 2009 and be the mother of a 2 1/2 month old.  

In some ways, IVF seems like ages ago and in some ways it feels like yesterday.  The baby updates from successful cycling buddies remind me that it wasn't just yesterday.  

I am so ready to stop standing in place while everyone else around me keeps moving forward. ***

***I know there are lots of ways to move forward, and that through adoption we are moving forward with our dream of becoming parents, blah, blah, blah.  Just let me indulge in some self-pity tonight.  I realized today that it was exactly a year ago that I had my final egg retrieval and we got one measly egg.  Even after 3 failed IVFs, I was naive/delusional enough to think that that poor sad little lonely egg might do the trick.  Even when I began to fear that IVF#4 didn't work, it never crossed my mind that one year later we would still be childless.  

Monday, April 20, 2009


Several weeks ago I attended an adoption conference.  It's held annually and is the largest one in New England. DH and I went last year when we were in the middle of our final IVF cycle.  We were hedging our bets, I guess.  While at the conference last year, I listened to a voicemail from one of my best friends  and learned that she got a BFP on her second month of trying.  When we had attended her wedding seven months prior, we had been preparing to start our second IVF. This year, she was at home playing with her five month old (he was born early but healthy) while I, still childless, attended workshops about legal risk adoption and post-adoption adjustment, hoping that they'd be relevant for me sooner rather than later.  

Last year at the conference, I felt like a faker.  In all honesty, we went but we were hoping not to be those people, hoping to avoid the world of adoption, hoping this last cycle would be the one that worked so we could become parents the way we'd always dreamed.  This year was different. This year, I felt like part of the family.  This year, I looked around me and thought, "Almost all of these people have been where I've been." I live in a state with mandated coverage for infertility treatments, including IVF. Almost everyone who is infertile goes through treatments. Most people who move on to adoption in my state have been through the IVF wringer.  They've gone through the hell of infertility and, instead of coming out the other side with a baby like so many, they've come out with empty arms and broken hearts.  They've had to resolve themselves to not having a biological child, to never being pregnant, and then had to decide what to do next. They've had to face the failure. . . and then somehow keep moving forward.  For those  at the conference, the way to move forward is adoption. I am one of them now.   For the first time in a long time, I stood within a group of people and felt like I belonged. 

One workshop I attended was called When Couples Disagree.  DH and I signed up for it because we worry he worries that we'll disagree when we're offered a placement: I'll say yes to any situation while he's more cautious about what we can handle.  The session was facilitated by counselors who specialize in adoption and are also both adoptive parents.   In the group, there were current adoptive parents who disagreed about how much background to disclose to their children, waiting couples like us who were concerned about disagreeing about a referral, couples who disagreed about which adoption route to pursue, and couples who disagreed about whether to pursue adoption or live childfree.  It was quite a diverse mix.  

The conversation got pretty intense at times. The session only lasted a little over an hour, but it ran the gamut from tears, to laughter, to anger. I've never been part of a group who were so honest about their emotions so quickly. Much of the conversation revolved around infertility and its aftermath. There was a lot of talk about the scars infertility left behind-the anger, the bitterness, the grief, the fear that nothing will work out, not even adoption.  It was comforting to hear adoptive parents talk about how it will get better, how it's all worth it in the end because they can't imagine themselves with any child but the one they have.  It is a gift to be with people who understand you without needing to explain yourself--who have walked your path, long before you even knew such a path existed, and who give you only hope for the future. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Our homestudy has been approved!  Woohoo!!!!!!

Friday, February 20, 2009

A friend's pain

My friend B of No Regrets just got a negative beta on her final IVF cycle.  I've been there, and I know how much comfort the kind words of others gave to me during that time.  Please go over and give her some love. 

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Thanks for nothing

TO: My Boss
FROM: Your infertile employee who has worked her ass off for you for the last 10 years
RE: Denial of paid leave

I just wanted to say thank you for your recent letter denying my request for paid adoption leave.

Thank you for pointing out that I will not be giving birth, which means I won't be "sick," which explains why you won't allow me to use any of my 110 sick days when I bring our child home, unlike every employee who has a child the "natural" way. I appreciate your archaic point of view that a woman who gives birth is disabled and needs to take 8 weeks of sick days to recover, as opposed to you granting her paid time to take care of and bond with her child.  I personally know of several women who were out running errands within a week of leaving the hospital, but I guess they were still "disabled."  

I will try to remember that I am not pregnant so I will have no morning sickness, no fear of fifth disease, no doctor to "write me out." I will also have no labor from which to recover. I will be transitioning a child into our home who has experienced trauma, but that is not the same as pregnancy or childbirth and certainly not worthy of the same amount of paid time off. . .or any paid time off.  Thank you for reminding me that building your family through pregnancy and adoption are completely unrelated and that one is clearly less than the other.

Thank you for informing me that DH and I had better start figuring out how we're going to live on one income for a few months. I appreciate you adding in financial stress to all the other stress that adoption brings with it.  Did you know that less than 1% of all employees will need adoption leave? It's not like it's going to break you. By the way, how much did it cost for those team-building sweatshirts that you gave everyone at the start of the year? I bet it's less than it would cost you for my substitute. If I get people to dig them out from the back of their closets and give them back, will you let me have a few sick days?

Thank you for making me feel even more isolated and resentful because of my lack of fertility. I will try to not to think about how much paid time several women with whom I work have taken off  due to their pregnancies alone.  And I'm not talking reasonable time off, I'm talking milking it for all it's worth and leaving others to pick up the slack.  I will try not to point out that, in addition to using an extraordinary number of sick days during pregnancy, each of those women also took her full 40 sick day allotment after the baby was born.  I will try to refrain from calculating how much all that time has cost the district in comparison to my simple request. 

Thank your for making me feel like I'm an idiot by requesting that you to use the discretion that I know is at your disposal to grant me some sick days.  I understand your desire to ignore that discretion and stick to the letter of the contract. In the same way, I am sure you will understand when I use my discretion to stick to the contract in the future. I'm not talking about in my classroom because I will never compromise there. But all the extra time I've spent making life easier for the administration suddenly seems like an exercise in masochism.  What a fool I was to think that going above and beyond would count for something!  I have accumulated 11o sick days because I often came to school when I felt unwell.  When I had my ovary removed, I came back at the earliest possible time even though I felt like crap.  I didn't take whole days for any of my IUIs.  I didn't stay home after ER or ET.  Thank you for teaching me a lesson about what you really value.  Now I know.

Thanks for everything.  Thanks for nothing.

Respectfully yours,


Friday, January 23, 2009

Update: Homestudy

I got in touch with our social worker today.  He made an appointment to get together with DH and me next week on Thursday to go over the draft of the homestudy.  He said my part was easy.  DH's part was "interesting" and took a little longer. I didn't pass that bit of information on to DH.  When we meet next week, our social worker will ask any questions he still has and make any changes we request.  Then we'll be done with the homestudy and ready to wait.  

Thursday, January 8, 2009

How Old Are You?

I just wanted to quickly share something that happened today.  I don't know if I've said it before, but I'm a first grade teacher.  I was sitting next to one of my little guys this morning working with him on his writing when the following exchange occurred.

First Grader (looks up at me and, completely unrelated to the topic at hand, says):  Do you have a daughter?

Me: A daughter?  No.  Why do you ask that?

First Grader:  I don't know. Do you have kids?

Me: No, not yet.

First Grader: You don't have kids yet?  You mean you're not married!

All the other little faces at the table turn toward me and a chorus of "Mrs. One Good Egg, you're not married?" starts.  

Me:  Well, yes, I'm married. That's why I'm called Mrs.. I talk about Mr. One Good Egg all the time, remember.

First Grader (in a tone that could be characterized as disbelief):  But you don't have kids, yet? How old are you then?

This is immediately followed by several guesses from the peanut gallery, some flattering, most not so flattering. 

Me: Hey, hey, hey.  Alright now, enough of that.  Let's just get back to our writing, OK?   

So even in the minds of my first graders I'm an old, married, childless failure.  Fantastic!

*I should mention that I really do talk about my husband and the rest of my family all the time. You'd think if I had a kid that I might have mentioned him or her before now.   It just goes to show how egocentric six-year olds can be that this little guy obviously never noticed.  In spite of, or maybe because of, their egocentricity six-year olds are the coolest kids ever.  And in spite of, or maybe because of, exchanges like the one above I do love my job.  

Saturday, January 3, 2009


The past few days have been better.  Thank you to everyone who talked me off the ledge.  I appreciate the comforting words.  I was glad to hear that my DH is not the first to have this kind of freak-out. 

The very good news is that he followed through and saw the counselor on Friday.  He felt good about the appointment.  He came home and told me that he was surprised to hear that he's not extremely messed up-that his fears and anxieties are normal.  Uh. . .yeah. . .that's what I said when he started all of this.  I guess he just needed to hear it from someone else.  As it stands right now, I'm going to call on Monday to make an appointment with the same counselor.  After the counselor sees me one on one, he's going to see us both together.  I was worried at first that this guy wouldn't have much understanding of infertility. Then I found out that DH got his name from a friend who, along with his wife, dealt with IF for years.  They both highly recommended him.  

DH and I have agreed that we'll keep plugging along with the homestudy while this is going on. He said he really does want to be a dad, but he really doesn't want to be the kind of dad his father was to him.  He wants to know how to keep that from happening.  I don't think there's a chance of that happening because he is nowhere close to the person his father is.  However, I think DH needs to figure that out for himself.  Hopefully this process will help him do that.