Category Archives: Infertility

Dollars and $ense of family building

Welcome to the Dollars and $ense of Family Building, a blog carnival in which you are invited to read what others have to say and also contribute your own experience.

This project started with a debate that I facilitated for the Open Adoption Examiner about potential adoptive parents using billboards to connect with expectant parents considering adoption. One of the viewpoints came from first mother Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy, who wrote:

I have too many adult adoptee friends that scoff and joke at their adoption paperwork where they see how much their folks “paid” and speak about what they “cost”. But beneath the joking, there is pain that they were looked at as a product and used in transactions.

Her comment led Baby Smiling In Back Seat to ask me some follow-up questions about the “cost” of different methods of family building. Our discussion grew into an idea to invite other bloggers to join the conversation. What does it mean that money has to change hands in order to bring a child into your family? What role can finances play in determining which path people take and how far that path goes?

Baby Smiling and I have put together a panel of adoption and infertility bloggers with a wide range of experiences. There are participants who have followed strict budgets, those who have spared no expense (and gone broke in the process), and those whose lack of funds have prevented them from pursuing their goals. There are adoptive parents who have used international, domestic, and foster routes. From the infertility side, there are participants whose treatments have been covered in part or in whole by insurance or their government, and many who have had no coverage whatsoever. There are also infertility bloggers who can speak to pursuing treatments internationally, shared risk plans, donor gametes, donor embryos, and surrogacy. In short, we have tried to include the full gamut of experiences regarding “cost.”

We have asked each participant to give some background on their own family building history and then to answer any number of the following questions (we don’t expect you to answer all questions — just the ones that grab you).

  1. Consider your now or future children as adults, and consider the fact that you had to spend money to either conceive them or make them part of your family. What effect do you think the latter will have on the former one day? What, do you think, your grown children might feel about the funds it took to create your family?
  2. How did/would you handle it if your child asks you, “Mom, how much did I cost?” How would you answer at age 7? At age 18?
  3. When calculating the costs of your family building, what do you include? The direct costs are easy (such as RE fees for a cycle or homestudy fees), but what about fees that didn’t directly lead to your child’s existence in your life, such as cycles that didn’t work, adoption outreach avenues that didn’t work, failed adoptions, avenues that were explored (and that cost something) but not pursued, etc.?
  4. If two children in a family “cost” different amounts, should that have any significance?
  5. To what extent have finances determined the family-building decisions you have made? How have you able to balance financial considerations against other factors such as medical, ethical, emotional…?
  6. Has institutional and governmental support for certain family-building paths impacted your choices? For example, ART being covered by insurance, tax deductions for adoption expenses, etc.
  7. Have you considered having ART treatments abroad, either due to lower cost or due to certain methods being unavailable or illegal in your own country? In your decision-making, how did you balance the financial savings against issues like the unknowns of the country, perhaps not speaking the language, and medical practices that may differ from those of your home country? If you did travel abroad for treatments, what was your experience? Would you do it again?

The discussion is now open to all of you. Please take the opportunity to write your own blog post addressing these issues and add your link below by June 21 [extended]. We ask that you direct people back here to find other links with this sentence:

Visit Write Mind Open Heart for more perspectives on the Dollars and $ense of Family Building and to add your own link to the blog hop by June 21 [extended], should you want to contribute your thoughts.

Family-building may not be free, but blog hopping is, so enjoy!

Om lost and found

I’ve told the story before of how my grandfather, who died 3 months before my daughter  was born, may have sent Tessa to us. But I’ve never told the story of the possible cosmic doings behind Reed’s joining us.

Because I lost the words. Literally.

While we were in the Adoption Wait in 2002, I was attending energy work classes with my mentor, Ethel. One day Ethel brought sets of  japa mala beads that she’d made, more than enough for each person in our class. I chose this pink quartz  and burgundy glass set.

Ethel gave me a Sanskrit chant to say daily with my beads, one that would draw to me a soul who would teach me.

She said it was a good idea to say the chant to music. So I took the tune of a children’s song I had learned years previously in Japan and inserted the Sanskrit syllables.

I fingered my japa mala necklace faithfully, fondling each bead as I chanted the given sentence, eyes closed. Daiy I went around the circle twice for 108 repetitions. I knew when I was finished when I arrived at the bigger guru bead.

As you can probably guess, seven-and-a-half months after I began Om-ing, Reed was born about five-and-a-half weeks early and subsequently came into our family. There’s some intriguing math in there.

When I began blogging, I wanted to share the mystery words with other infertiles who wanted to invite a soul into their lives. Being the documentarian that I am, I knew I’d be able to easily find the mantra.

But I couldn’t. I scoured my daily journals. I re-read my notes from class. I perused my dream journals and every scrap of paper I may have written the prayer on. I tried to dig up the words from my own memory. I even asked Ethel, and she had no idea where they had come from. The words were lost to me. I finally gave up looking.

One day while sitting under the dryer at Crystal’s hair salon, I thumbed through a Yoga Journal. I opened to a page that featured an article ABOUT MY CHANT.

I scribbled down the words giddily. And now I can give them to you.

So if you are seeking a soul to teach you and are willing to open yourself up, get some prayer beads and find or make a tune that fits these words:

Om namo bhagavate vasu deva ya.

More on this mantra here and here (maning varies from what Ethel told me). You can also find videos on this chant on YouTube.

The motherless and the childless

This weekend, as women celebrate the mothers they are and the mothers they have, let’s take a moment to honor the childless mothers and the motherless children.

I won’t name you, but I’m thinking of you, those who are childfree not by choice. Those who, like me, are not able to create or carry life. Those who experienced neonatal or infant loss. Those who have an empty place at the dinner table. Those who placed a child into the arms of another. To all of you women who feel an ache today, I honor you.

I won’t name you, but I’m thinking of you, those who are not able to invite mom to dinner, call her on the phone, to send a card. Those who lost a beloved mothers to illness, to accident, to age, to circumstance. Those who have an empty place at the dinner table. Those who have an an unmet or distant birth mother. To all of you women who feel an ache today, I honor you.

Abiding with you and wishing you peace today.

(If you are struggling today as someone who yearns for a child, please see Pamela Tsigdinos‘ A Non-Mother’s Day in today’s New York Times magazine.)