Category Archives: Infertility

The flip side of the 2011 Adoption Bloggers Interview Project

Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2011I’m closing out the last week of National Adoption Awareness Month with the second part of twin posts from the Adoption Bloggers Interview Project. Part 1 was where I interviewed Allison of A Few Sprinkles Short of a Sundae, and below is the part in which she interviewed me (originally posted on her blog).


Allison: You wrote that you taught students that geography determines how they chose certain aspects of their life – sports teams, religion and politics. How did you come up with this wise analogy? Is there anything else that can be subbed in for those choices? Sexual orientation? Socio-economic status (city vs country, state to state, & globally)? Divorce rates?

After my husband and I got married, I marveled that my husband’s “clan” in Boston loved the Patriots with the same fervor that my clan loved the Broncos. How could this be? I had grown up with the One True Team, hadn’t I?

Later on, my husband and I moved to Syria for two years and found that our new Muslim friends (who were overwhelmingly warm, kind, loving and compassionate, despite the way Muslims are often portrayed in western media) were as devoted to Allah and to honoring the five pillars of Islam as my clan was in living a Christ-like life and using the Ten Commandments as a guide. How could this be? Hadn’t I grown up with the One True Religion?

Same with politics. We absorb what we’re exposed to and it becomes our default setting, only we may not be aware that we HAVE a default setting in these areas. We might just think everyone else is wrong.

As for the other aspects you mention, I suppose it is possible in all areas to think that your way is the One True Way, but I don’t really hear people arguing that it’s better to be homosexual than hetero, better to be poor than not-poor, or that divorced families are better than intact families. Rather I hear people asking for acceptance of differences, not an insistence on a hierarchy.

What made you decide to go with domestic infant adoption versus international, foster or other kinds of adoption? Did you ever feel that adoption was a “second choice” for you and your husband? Did your feelings on that change after your first adoption?

Although we also went to information sessions for international and foster adoption programs, we were fairly clear from the start that domestic infant adoption would be the way for us. As for being second choice in building a family, it depends on what you mean by “second.” Yes, we did try to become parents in the old-fashioned way first and through adoption second, so if you mean in chronological terms, the answer is yes. I wrote about this in a post, In adoption, last means best.

You have contact with your children’s birth parents, how would you handle things if that was not an option? Would you have sought any level of openness if you had adopted through foster care? Or helped your child find their roots if you had adopted internationally? Why/why not?

Well that would make me very sad to have no contact with the birth parents of either of my children. If we had gone with foster adoption or international adoption and if I knew then what I know now, I would pursue any openness we could get (assuming openness made sense; clearly, there are times when it wouldn’t, such as if our family’s safety were at stake). Writers who have influenced me on this topic are SocialWrkr24/7 and the book Bones that Float by Kari Grady Grossman, who tracked down her sons birth family in Cambodia and found so much more.

Openness is a good way to help an adopted child heal the split between his biology and his biography because it minimizes the space (physical and/or emotional) between his two sets of parents.

Why do you think envisioning disrupting your adoption helped you to realize that you actually did not want to do that and that you were indeed bonded to your child? Was that a risky move on the part of your counselor? (I ask because I also had to do the same thing when dealing with severe post-adoption anxiety.)

Because it put choice back into my equation. Having choice is key to someone who is stuck. I suppose it was risky, now that I think about it, but my therapist must have had both trust in me and the process, as well as experience with other stuck clients, in order to have had such certainty about the outcome.

If you encounter someone with PADS (or PPD) do you encourage them that some days just getting dressed is indeed a victory? How else can someone encourage a person going through post-child depression?

Yes. I would encourage the person to be gentle with herself. And to get help, in the form of counseling, and in being able to take a break once in awhile — a trusted friend or neighbor or relative stepping in for just an hour at a time. Perhaps at the root of the depression is fear of not being up to the task, and that can often be eased by getting just one night of good sleep, by having some space in which to regain perspective, and by being gentle with oneself. This is so hard to do when you’re running on fumes! Sometimes getting dressed is a huge victory, as is just managing to get a meal on the table, even if it’s mac & cheese. As my yoga teachers say, “we count success in small measures.”

How to encourage a person? That’s a tough question and I’m not a therapist. But what helped me was family members letting me know they would be there when I got too close to Overwhelm. That friends sat with me while I cried, not trying to fix me but simply abiding with me. And that my husband picked up the slack when I was incapable. And that they all reflected back to me their faith that I would come out on the other side intact, even when I was certain there WAS no other side.

 What does your family like to do together as a family unit? What do you do to further strengthen your familial bonds?
As I type we are on our way out to play family Nerf football in our front yard on this beautiful Fall day. We attend each others’ choir concerts, basketball games and other activities — often our extended family members are there, too. Once in awhile we go to a really cool bloggy event at the museum, theme park or movie theater. And we make a point to have dinner together almost every night, a steady point of connection in our lives.

To read interviews from other pairs of adoption bloggers, visit The Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2011.

Gratitude? Gratitude.

My yoga teacher, Jane, harps and harps on gratitude. Got something good going on? Show gratitude! Got something bad going on? Show gratitude! And she’s always trying to open our hips because “open hips = happy heart.” And a happy heart is a grateful one.

One day, after a very stretchy sequence to eke open our hips more! more! more!, Jane closed our practice with this quote during savasana:

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow. — Melody Beattie

I practically wept on the mat.

My journey thus far flashed before my eyes.  My empty arms and longing heart gave way to my fantastically full home — basketballs, extra laundry, teddy bears and the two children who leave those things all over. My very dark days where I nearly lost the will to live were juxtaposed with the brilliant light I found in the infertility blogging community. My sickly, failure of a body has evolved into something I love, both in the way it looks and all it can do. Even the recent chaos presented to me is balanced by the calm stillness I find when I draw in my attention solely to  the space on my mat.

In my mind’s eye were a thousand tao symbols, each one symbolizing duality joining into unity.

  • Day + night = a day.
  • Good + evil = a human.
  • Broken + forgiveness = wholeness.
  • Infertile + superfertile  = open adoption.
  • Self-loathing + self love = me.

It was bliss. And I was grateful, for every single thread in the tapestry that is my life.

The Dollars and $ense of My Family’s Creation

Family-building efforts are limited (and sometimes thwarted) by only two things: time and money. To address the latter of these Baby Smiling and I are hosting a blog carnival called The Dollars and $ense of Family Building. At the bottom of this post you’ll see how you, too, can participate.

How did my husband and I come to the financial decisions we did when faced with infertility? First, for new readers, a brief synopsis of our path to parenthood.

We discovered a year after our marriage that things weren’t-a-happenin’ on the baby-making front. Shortly before heading to a two-year teaching stint in the Middle East, we had a diagnosis but no plans for treatment, given our upcoming upheaval.

As it turned out, we shared an apartment building in our host country with a German-trained Lebanese embryologist, as he called himself. With the supreme confidence displayed by carpet-sellers in the souk, he proclaimed, “Maalesh! We will have you pregnant insha’llah.” Which literally means, “No worries! God willing, you will have a baby!” And which actually ended up meaning, “We will poke and prod you unceremoniously and take your money and you will not end up with a baby.”

But at the time we thought we’d hit the luck jackpot because the treatment we required would cost about one-third what we thought it would in our hometown.

A few years later and back at home, we once again revisited our options.  We had very low odds of conception success unless we used all donor material. Given my absolute terror about shots and blood draws and the devastation I experienced at our one IVF failure, we found it easy to decide to spend our last financial and emotional stores not on further treatment, but on adoption.

Now to answer a few questions that are being asked in this blog hop:

How will you handle it if your child asks you, “Mom, how much did I cost?” How would you answer at age 7? At age 18?

This hasn’t happened yet, and my sense is that it won’t. It is more likely that as teenagers, my children (now 8 and 10) may one day ask, “Mom, how much did my adoption cost?”

And I will respond that we paid the agency $X thousand  for them to investigate us and make sure we would be good parents to you, and that some of the money went to helping young women who became pregnant unexpectedly and weren’t sure how to handle their situation. The agency uses the money they have to counsel these pregnant women and help them make a plan either to parent or to place. And that mothers who have babies in hospitals also pay for services of doctors and nurses. And that people aren’t bought and sold, but services can be paid for.

If either of my children were to say, “Mom, how much did I cost?” I would say, “Do you mean how much did it cost to adopt you?” and go from there.

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…?

Our decision to stop infertility treatments had less to do with finances (although finances were a big concern) than with other factors, specifically the emotional.  I barely survived that one assisted attempt that ended up in a BFN (big fat no — although it didn’t have a name in those pre-blogging days) and feared that I would not be able to endure having another. I simply did not have it in me to again go through assisted reproduction with such low odds of success. Financial reasons were in line with emotional reasons, and both pointed to No.

Have you considered having ART treatments abroad due to lower cost ? 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?

Our travel abroad was coincidental to our fertility woes. We did not deliberately go some place where treatment would be more affordable — we just happened to be there at that time. I have no idea how Dr Embryologist’s methods measured up against what CCRM had available at the time, but he talked a good game about being state-of-the-art. Even though our efforts were not fruitful, I do not now regret our efforts in Syria. I am glad we tried for two reasons: (1) I have clear hind sight and harbor no feelings of “what if” — we tried and we failed; (2) how could be regret any step that led me to my children? ART in Syria was one of those steps (a painful one) that got us to where we are. I am, ultimately, grateful.


Visit LavenderLuz for more perspectives on the Dollars and $ense of Family Building. You may add your own link to the blog hop by May 1, should you want to contribute your thoughts (a list of 7 prompt questions are provided).

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!