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.