Tuesday, December 16, 2014

It's Time

I imagine we all have special relationships within this community. For one reason or another, some just burrow down deep into our hearts. Time, and distance, and course of treatment don't affect the relationship. You can be adopting in Georgia and she can be doing donor eggs via a gestational carrier in Colorado and it doesn't change a thing. I've had many of those friendships find me throughout this infertility journey. Every single woman behind every single blog has meant so much to me, but there are always some who are forever a part of my story. One of those women for me is Suzanne.

It was a late night in September 2013. Suzanne and I had been texting throughout the evening. She was really worried about her donor, "Goose, " and her response to stims. Things were going much slower than expected and we were all very worried about a cancelled cycle. I remember riding down Broad Street with my husband when the strangest words came out of my mouth: "I want Suzanne to get this [a baby] more than I want it for us." It sounded weird, but as I talked it out with him, I kept coming to the same conclusion. I wanted a baby with every fiber of my being, but there were some ladies who I had grown to love deeply over the years who just, I don't know "deserved" it more. That's not really the right word... reproduction is a basic faculty of humanity... we all "deserve" to have that work correctly, in between the bed sheets and not under paper ones or in a lab. So that's not the word, but I don't know what is... I just knew that I really, really, REALLY needed this to work for these special friends. I detailed the absolutely overwhelming circumstances that Aubrey and Suzanne and other friends were up against at that time and explained that they were so brave, so strong, so deserving. That I just needed this to work… it would be a healing force to my faith.

Thankfully, just a few months later, Aubrey got THE BEST NEWS EVER. I got the news from Aubrey while sitting in a Georgia Basketball game… I'll never forget it. As I read her news, tears streamed down my cheeks. This was exactly what I had wanted for her… the tears were 100% pure joy! If Suzanne could just transfer and bring home a baby, if Erika could bring home her daughter, all would somehow be right with the wold. But all was not right… as we've all seen, things go right for one person, and terribly horribly wrong for others with no rhyme or reason. Aubrey's good news was not the catalyst for more for my other sweet friends. Since then, the tears I've shed for Suzanne have not been for joy. They have been for frustration. For heart ache. For anger. The last year has not been kind to Suzanne. Thankfully her egg donor rallied after that night and some beautiful embryos were created from her precious gift of eggs. I thought I would be hearing similarly incredible news from Suzanne when I heard about her six embryos, but the months since then have been filled with more and more bad news.

I think I've cried just as many tears over her journey as my own. I mean, take a second and go read her TTC Timeline tab. Suzanne and I started trying to conceive just months apart... May 2011 for me and July 2011 for Suzanne. I stand here today, 44 months into the longest, hardest, battle of my life and I'm exhausted. I feel discouraged. I feel broken. I'm just so tired.... but I haven't been through one fraction of what Suzanne has. Natural BFPs, miscarraige, ectopics, oral meds, injectable medications, IUIs, failed IVF, donor eggs, scarred cervix, Asherman's Syndrome, failed FET... She's been through it all. I know Suzanne has felt as if the stars always align against her on 10,000 occasions. Can you blame her? I mean, gah, that's just crazy you guys. But Suzanne has been SO strong though all of this. She has never once heard bad news and let it crush her. She's been knocked down so many times, but every. single. time. she and her husband find a way, come up with a plan, push forward. Theres is a beautiful story of strength in the face of adversity. And through it all, no matter what she had going on in her own life, Suzanne was cheering me on, sending me gifts, being a true friend. And I know many of you have felt the same love and support for her. When she had every right to turn inward and be bitter and not care about others, she chose to love and support and cheer for her friends.

But you guys, it's time for that story to have a happy ending. Today, thanks to her incredible surrogate, K, Suzanne will have the opportunity to place two of her beautiful embryos into a healthy uterus. You guys, my heart my actually explode from pure joy. If I could reach K right now, I'd wrap her up in the biggest hug, and squeeze her tight. Her gift means so much to me. This year has been such a good year for so many of my precious friends. Well over half of my infertile sisters have crossed that illustrious line this year and they are now celebrating the holidays with beautiful, snugly, chubby cheeked little ones. There would be absolutely no better way to cap off this year than a positive pregnancy test for Suzanne. Today is step one. Join with me in praying for a successful transfer today and a long 40 weeks of pregnancy to follow. It's time.

Hop on over to Suzanne's blog and give her some love and support today. Send her an email. Shoot her a text. Let her know that we love her, we're proud of her, and we're rooting for her and and her husband every step of the way.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Forever Waiting

Well, first of all, I survived Thanksgiving. I feel like that's a BIG win this year, so kudos to me for not hightailing it out of there and heading for the mountains with my mom's carrot cake in tow. My niece and brother also stayed over at my mom's house for Thanksgiving, so the house was nice and family-ee all weekend for mom. And BONUS, my niece decided that I wasn't the most horrible person for the first time since she was, well since she was born. As she's two and half, I feel like that's real progress. See below for evidence that she does in fact, sort of kind of, like her auntie (and that she LOVES rubber lizards):


Footie Pjs and rubber lizards for the win

I guess I should also share that we were not selected in the situation I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. Technically, we weren't not selected either as the birth mother decided to parent. I guess that feels pretty different than a situation in which some other potential adoptive parent(s) are chosen. I was only barely sad over the situation when the news finally came. Mostly I was relieved. It had been a long ten days of waiting, so it was just nice to have an answer. I also completely understand why some couples choose not to know when they are submitted to birth mothers. The wait can kill you. I am admittedly not all that ready to do it again (and again). 

And yet, I'm starting to get a little twitchy over the delay. It feels like everything has ground to a complete halt. We were frantic in those first few weeks. The home study made me feel like things were actually moving. I suddenly understood how the "you might have a baby in a few months" statement that my consultant offered at our first appointment could happen. And then one week turned into another which slipped into another and nothing happened. It took for-ever to get our home study and we couldn't do a thing without it. Now that I have it, I can't seem to get people to respond to phone calls or emails. I'm over here like "don't you want to read my home study???" and "hey, let me mail you my pretty profile book!!!" and NO ONE WANTS ME! Wahhh! I'm being slightly dramatic (as usual) but I really need to see some progress. Every opportunity we've seen since the one we presented for has been for soooooo much money... like $39,000 kind of money. I guess I'm just feeling lost and frustrated and stuck... but that's par for the course in infertility land, right? It's not like this is a new feeling or anything. Some days it feels like I'll be waiting forever.

So for now, we're just waiting. Waiting for the right situation to plop into our lives. The home study and profile books are ready to present... we just need someone to present them to. Speaking of our profile book, I wanted to share it here on the blog. We're certainly not against finding a birth mother without the help of an attorney or agency, so if you know someone, or know someone who knows someone, feel free to direct them here. The profile book isn't exactly what I wanted, but there were a lot of opinions and people to please on this one, and ultimately I just had to get it done. Hopefully I shine really bright in the crowd for simply not using Curlz or Comic Sans.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Broken World

I have almost posted and then not posted this a half a dozen times over the last two days. The Lord knows it's not like the internet needs any more commentary on the Ferguson situation. But my heart is hurting for so many right now, and when I hurt, I write.

Facebook and Twitter have been insane over the last few days. Absolutely insane. I would have refrained from even checking Facebook at all if I wasn't desperately waiting for news on the birth mother we presented for (yes, the attorney keeps a Facebook page). Unfortunately, I felt like I had to check it and check it often, so my eyes unwillingly saw the garbage filling up my newsfeed. And like a rubbernecker at the scene of an accident, I couldn't look away. 

My point for this post is not to argue for one side or the other. I honestly haven't followed the case very much. We don't have cable, and I'm not one to read the news, so the happenings of the world typically pass me by. And I'm really fine with that because most of what's on the news just makes me sad. This situation is no different. I don't care what side of the line you fall on, this situation is sad. An American youth was killed. A policeman's life was forever changed. Two families have been thrust into the spotlight, and a community has literally been torn apart. That's sad. 

It's also sad to see our country so filled with hate. The calmest, most sane, and thoughtful posts have been used as platforms for hate by both sides over the last few days. It's ugly, the darkness, that lives in our hearts... and it's in all of us. There were at least a half a dozen times when something got me within inches of firing off a comment... and that is so unlike me. But by mid-morning yesterday, it dawned on me that the internet really didn't need one more opinion because there were MILLIONS out there. What was really needed was a whole lot less talking and a whole lot more listening. I would say one percent of one percent has been something worth reading, but when we're busy firing off our own mouths, it's easy to miss the good stuff. The internet and more importantly the comment are often times something that I abhor. In the blog community, and specifically the infertility blog community, we say comments are like hugs... and nine times out of ten, that's how we use them on one another's blog. But many of us have had comments that feel nothing like hugs, but rather a slap in the face or a punch in the gut from random lurkers or anonymous readers. And it's hard not to respond in kind to that kind of thing. I get that. A comment posted in earnest quickly spirals out of control when others attack you for your views or, even worse, taking your words out of context. I hate that part of social media... the commenting frenzy that goes on, the bickering, the name calling, the slander, the profanity... it's just gross. And it's not a generational thing either... I regularly see people in their fifties and sixties diving in, and adding fuel to the fire. It's just unacceptable that this is how we behave, that the internet has allowed us to do and say things that we would never say to someone's face.

The last few days have brought people to the boiling point. So many articles and posts have been written with the sole purpose of inciting fury and stirring the pot. Everyone wants to have the last word, prove their point, fire off some zinger, and silence the oppostion... but the problem is that no one is silenced because no one is listening. Every comment is read as a personal attack against the reader and therefore requires an even more fiery response back. The shooting death of Michael Brown, the riots in the days that followed, and the current protests following the grand jury's decision not to indict Darren Wilson have brought the ugly in so many hearts to the surface. The water is surely boiling now. What was buried within the hearts of this county's citizens is on full display for the world to see now. The truth of the matter is that racism still exists, and if nothing else, the situation in Ferguson and the response across America has revealed that. I would say well over half of the posts and articles being liked and shared by white people were either condemning Michael Brown, celebrating Darren Wilson, or vilifying an entire people group based on the actions of a few. And the same can be said for black people... most of the posts and articles being liked and celebrated by black people were those that demonized Darren Wilson, honored Michael Brown, and lumped all white people into a group of racists. A line was drawn in the sand and it revealed racist hearts on both sides. Both black and white have said and done terrible things over the last few days out of hatred and fear. Racism is real and prevalent and right in front of us.

The thing about this that has been absolutely disheartening to me has been not only the comments from strangers being traded with pure venom back and forth all day, but the comments that my "friends" were making. It hit me hard, probably way harder than it would have if we weren't currently in the adoption world. Every time I read a post or a comment from a friend or an acquaintance, I read it from the lens of a white mom raising a child of a different race. Because friends, I may be one of those moms one day. Sam and I have placed no stipulations on the race of the child we adopt. Sam and I have talked for months now about the race issue within the context of adoption. We knew that we would have to make our "preferences" known immediately, and we wanted to have thought through it from all angles. Let me tell you, there's nothing like imagining how you'd feel with a black child at your dinner party or family dinner to draw your eye to the comments, remarks, and ideas that your friends and family make. The question we've asked ourselves over and over and over again for the last few months is "if I was a black child (or Hispanic or Asain), how would I feel sitting at this table?" Because it's not just us, but it's our family, our friends, our community that this child will be a part of, and unfortunately, none of us can control what our friends and family think or say. The last few days have revealed that truth to me again and again. I have to admit that I was ashamed of many of the things being shared by former classmates, old friends, etc.

My heart went out to my friends who are currently raising children of other races and ethnicities, be they African American, Haitian, Asian, African, or Hispanic. They are trying on a daily basis to bridge two worlds. There is only one world, true, but we so often take what was created for us all and we draw lines and divide and separate. These moms and dads were often the ones crossing "racial" lines with their posts: liking, celebrating, agreeing with the "other" side. I didn't always agree with what they were saying or how they went about it, but I think what these parents are trying to do is beautiful. Many are responding to this situation out of fear, fear of raising their children in a world where others hate them not for their actions, but simply for the color of their skin… that's heartbreaking friends. When Sam and I attended the adoption conference, we heard a pastor speak specifically on raising black boys in white families. I didn't agree with everything that was said, either by the speaker or the commenters, but I don't think we have to agree with everything someone says to find value in their words. I'm providing a link in case anyone is interested.

Ultimately, I don't really have much of a point here. Enough "points" have already been made. I'm not hear to argue the validity of any of those points… I think there's a lot of truth behind many of the arguments from both sides, and there's a whole lot of bull crap too. Weeding it out is the hard part. But I do want to say that I'm thinking of you, my precious friends, who are right in the thick of this, raising children who look nothing like you. I can't fully comprehend how the junk on the internet the last few days comes across when your own family is blended by many colors. My heart is burdened for you and I'm praying for you and your children. I hope that future generations will see less of this mess, but ultimately we live in a broken world. The last few days have shown us all that.

______________________________________

I've read a lot over the last few days, and like I said, 99% was complete garbage. However, there have been a few thought provoking words written and I'd like to share them for anyone interested. 

This post be Benjamin Watson of the New Orleans Saints, in my opinion, best sums up and articulates the various emotions surrounding the last few days. He eloquently explains the dichotomy of those emotions.

And this article by Voddie Baucham is the best explanation that I've seen for the real root of the problem, both in the shooting death of Michael Wilson, the rioting in Ferguson, and the hatred being spewed across the internet.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Tune My Heart

Man, this adoption stuff is not for the faint of heart. This has quite possibly been the longest week ever. The best way I can describe it would be the beta day that never ends. Imagine you wake up for your beta, believing that today, one way or another, you'll be put out of your misery... it'll either be positive with much rejoicing or negative with much weeping, but either way you'll know. Except, imagine that you wait all day long, but your phone never rings. You wake up the next day just knowing that your nurse will call any minute and the wait will finally be over. But the phone doesn't ring. You wait all day, but it never rings. No news at all. Now imagine that this scenario is on repeat, day after day, after day. That's what this week has felt like. I am emotionally exhausted and I've said on more than one occasion that I am not cut out for this. The wait makes me into a crazy person.

The wait can really start to alter your thoughts too. I started off reading the profile of this mother last Saturday feeling really sad for her. All of these scenarios are sad... many are really frustrating too, but they are all sad. I started off the week simply praying for the birth mom. I wanted her to find clarity and peace with her decision, whether that was to parent or place the child for adoption. Believe me, I'm not interested in adopting someone's baby if that person wants to parent... does that make sense?But as the days wore on, my thoughts slowly began to shift away from her and her needs to me and my needs. And then I read this:

And, oh, how my heart needs tuning! I forget His goodness. I forget there are “streams of mercy, never ceasing.” I forget that I’m already accepted, covered, held, known, beloved. And when I forget that I’m His cherished daughter, I start hustling for my worth. Grasping for “good” as if I don’t already have access to the Giver of every good thing. 
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. 
I’d never play a song with an out of tune guitar, but so often (too often) I am willing to live with a heart that is out of tune. Dissonant. Fearful. Discontent. Ashamed. All because I don’t take the time to restore my heart to its rightful place, to a place of gratitude for a Love that will never leave me.

I love She Reads Truth... It's not always the meatiest, but the commentary reads like a conversation between friends. It's typically spot on and really refreshing. This particular excerpt is from a devotional on the hymn "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing". It hit me as I read this that this next phase of the adoption process is going to be about repeatedly tuning my heart, over and over and over again. 

It's easy to start with the best of intentions. That's exactly how I felt last Saturday. I remember reading through the profile and praying for that unborn baby and asking The Lord to provide THE BEST for this child... whether that be the birth mom, us, or another prospective adoptive couple. But after a few days, the anxiety, the fear, the hope, the dreams it started to affect my heart. By Thursday, I was in a different mindset. Anxiety over being rejected, fear of never being picked, hope of bringing home a baby, and dreams for our future pulled my heart away from wanting the absolute best for this birth mom and baby. Instead my focus turned inward to MY needs and MY future. It happened so fast. 

I'll tell you this, this part of adoption feels completely foreign from fertility treatments. When I was waiting for beta, I felt justified in some way for praying for life. God is good, and He is the creator of life, so it felt natural to ask for life for my womb. But this feels very different. This is a child, and a woman, and a man, and potentially other family members... It seems insane to ask that they not keep their family together. But in the midst of me and my sadness and anxiety it's easy to inch that direction. So yeah, this process is going to be one long, continuous tuning of my heart. This is certainly not all about me... my heart's got to remember that. 

We're still waiting to hear one way or another, but I'm feeling better today. The crazy anxiety left over the weekend. I'd definitely like to know one way or another, but I think I can give my keyboard a rest and only refresh my email once every 20-30 minutes now, verses every 2.4 seconds... it's progress friends. My heart is going to need continuous tuning, but I'll get there.

Monday, November 17, 2014

And So It Begins

I've been posting a good bit about adoption lately, but I haven't been posting about my adoption much. It wasn't intentional, no big secrets or anything. I guess the thing about the adoption journey is there's typically no news until there's NEWS, you know what I mean? We've been semi-patiently waiting for our final home study (read, not patiently at all) and frantically working to complete our profile book. As of Friday evening, both are officially done. We received an email pdf of the home study (paper copy should arrive today) and I ordered twelve copies of our profile. As soon as we have those in hand, we'll be ready to take our next step and apply with a couple of different agencies/attorneys.

For now we've decided to apply with two. It's a delicate balancing act. Obviously the more agencies or attorneys we apply with the more opportunities we will have, but the more money we will spend too. We are desperately trying to be good stewards of both our own money and the money that has so generously been gifted to us. It would be easy to apply for every scenario we see… we'd most likely be matched in no time, but we'd also watch this adoption climb north of 50 or 60 thousand dollars really fast. We're trying to be patient and wait and pray that the right opportunity will come.

Ironically enough, that opportunity may have presented itself. Not twenty four hours after I ordered twelve copies of our profile book, I received an email from our adoption consultant. It's a very confusing process to explain, but essentially we can apply with several attorneys or agencies, but we also receive scenarios through our consultant. She is not the contact for the birth mothers, but rather she has contacts in the adoption community and she forwards these scenarios on to her clients when they come to her. We've seen approximately fifteen scenarios since we started working with our consultant. We've never applied for any of them before as a home study is typically required. We've used this time more to familiarize ourselves with the process, what information we will and won't receive, and to stretch our muscles of discernment as we review these cases.

Let me tell you, I can pretend all I want to, but it feels extremely different when you read a scenario that you know you can't apply for verses the real deal. I don't know what it was about Saturday… I don't know if the situation was just that good, or if the fact that the home study document was sitting in my inbox, but I suddenly felt anxious/nervous/excited… I'd say it was reminiscent of the IUI days. All those butterflies in my stomach while I waited for them to call me back with the wash results as I climbed on the table. I still feel that way.

Our original plan was to wait to put our names forward until we had $10,000. It was an arbitrary line as we still don't know exactly how much this adoption will cost, but we're trying to be wise and patient. We do not have 10K yet, but well, patience has never been and will never be my virtue. We've decided to put our names forward for this situation. Our very first time. It feels monumental in some ways, but I think I'll probably feel differently in a few days… after doing this ten or twenty times, I'm sure I'll be singing a different tune. I don't feel at liberty to share many of the details of the case on the blog… we're just presenting and very well may not make it beyond the mailing of our profile. But I will share this: baby is due SOON, like so soon my mind is both blown by amazement and terrified by the ten thousand lists I was supposed to get to make and check off before a baby ever crossed the threshold of my home.

I guess that's really the take away here… I've felt in control of this whole adoption thing. Thus far, it moved at my pace (for the most part); if I don't turn in paperwork we stall, but if I bust my butt we move forward. I'm in control of when and how often we're presented. I have final say, or so it felt... until now. It's all an illusion friends… this thing is so far out of my control. In my head, I know this is probably a one in a million shot. I have no idea how many other prospective adoptive parents we're up against, but my guess would be thirty... so a one in thirty chance of even being chosen. My head knows not to get too excited because this could be a long road of putting ourselves out there over and over and over again. My heart on the other hand, is a whimsical, sorry creature that simply will. not. learn. no matter how many times it is crushed and smooshed like a bug. If I had to describe my feelings right now, it would most closely align to the first IUI. That first IUI felt SO HUGE. I remember feeling like THIS COULD BE IT while waiting for the nurse to call us back. And then six minutes later I had been inseminated and it was over, please and thank you. But ohhhh the hope. My head knows not to get too excited, to reign the emotions in, to protect the heart, but truth be told, I feel like I just overnighted my heart in a little envelope.

And so it begins, my friends, and so it begins.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

It's Rearely Ever Cheap

The month of November is Adoption Awareness. I always try to do my part during National Infertility Awareness Week, and as adoption has become a BIG part of our lives recently, I wanted to do my part and spread awareness for adoption too. My goal I guess is twofold. First, there are obviously many of my readers who are struggling with infertility and adoption is a family building choice. I'll never be the one to push adoption on anyone, as I think it's a very personal decision for each couple. But I do want everyone to know and understand more about adoption in case that becomes a potential family building option for any of my friends. The second goal is to spread general awareness to those outside of the infertility community. I think friends and family of infertile couples are typically well meaning and simply trying to help when they offer adoption as a solution to infertility. Again, it's my opinion that how any couple deals with infertility is entirely up to them. There have been LOTS of occasions over the last few years in which I would have chosen a different path forward than my friends, and they can probably say the same about me... any decision on how to deal with infertility is really, really personal. That being said, I hope I can open some eyes to why more couples aren't diving into adoption as soon as they hear the diagnosis. I don't want to scare anyone away from adoption... we think it's GREAT and we're really, really excited about our opportunity. I'm  also not looking for sympathy. We chose this path with eyes wide open to all of this stuff AND we feel blessed to even have this option. However, it's still good to look at the facts, and so far we've found that adoption is not that simple, it's never easy, and as we'll see today, it's rarely ever cheap.

Cheap is a relative term in the adoption world. Cheap is under $10,000, and I'm pretty sure few if any of us would call anything costing $10,000 cheap. That's uhh, approximately twice what my car is worth. That's more than both of of our vehicles combined. $10,000 is still a lot of money. Now of course there are certainly some adoption scenarios that are much less than $10,000. Do you remember our simplest adoption scenario from the first post in which the birth mother was put in touch with an adoptive couple simply by friends, family, or other contacts? Well like most things in life, the simplest is also often the cheapest. In this scenario, the adoptive parents pay attorney fees, and those fees can really run the gamut. You obviously want a good attorney who knows adoption laws and can get your paperwork processed correctly, but you also aren't necessarily interested in financing someone's new Bentley, right? Our consultant said she's got a few attorney contacts who she refers clients to in these situations who regularly charge $2,000 or less. If you have no travel fees, then the additional expenses would be for things like the home study. Definitely much cheaper. And of course foster to adopt or adoptions through the state are often free, the state covers any expenses. So yes, cheaper adoptions can happen.

But think for a minute: how often in your circles do you hear of women who want to place a child for adoption? It has literally never happened to me. Even if you spread the word and have friends and family passing along your info, how many scenarios do you think you'll find? That's where agencies and attorneys come in. They serves as the middle man to unite the birth mothers with potential adoptive parents, and vice versa. But as most things in life, the more people you add to a project, the more the price goes up. Now you're not only paying for an attorney to complete the adoption paperwork, but you're also paying the attorney or agency for things like finding the birth mother (advertisement fees), working with the birth mother during the pregnancy (often called agency or adoption fees), etc.

In some scenarios the adoptions are basically a flat fee. This is often the scenario for charitable organizations who can subsidize the actual costs of adoption with money raised from fundraisers and donors. For example, Bethany Christian Services claims that they work to cover 40% of the actual cost of an adoption, so that the adopting family pays only 60%... 60% is still a lot, but it's better than 100%, right? In other situations, it's more of a pay for what you get type of system. If your agency or attorney has to do more than the average amount of work to locate a birth father and get him to sign, you're going to pay additional fees. But, the reverse is true too. If your situation is pretty simple, then your fees will (hopefully reflect that). Adoptive Families' website claims the average cost for an adoption through an agency is $33,793 and through an attorney is $31,465. I'll mostly agree with those numbers as we've seen cases as low $27,000 and as high as $49,000.

Here's an example of fees, just so you can get an idea of how these giant totals come together:
Adoption Agency Fee: $8,500
Adoptive Parent Attorney: $7,500
Birth Mother Attorney: $2,500
Birth Father Attorney: $750*
Guardian ad Litem for Child: $750
Notice to Putative Father Publication: $300
Social/Medical History Intake: $300
District Court: $300
Counseling: $500*
Birth Mother Expenses: $7,950
  • Rent- [($550 x 5 months) + $500 deposit]- $3,250
  • Utilities- ($100 x 5 months)- $500
  • Cable/Phone Service- ($100 x 5 months)- $500
  • Groceries- ($75 x 25 weeks)- $2,750
  • Transportation- ($50 x 5 months)- $250
  • Clothing- $500
  • Miscellaneous- $200
Total: $29,350 (fees marked with asterisk on as needed basis) 
I'm not going to lie people, the cost of adoption is frustrating. If you remember I shared a statistic that said that 33% of people think about adoption, but only 2% actually adopt. Well, the study goes on to say that 79% of those who think about adoption are concerned about the cost and list finances as a major hurdle. If the difficult hurdles don't scare them away, the cost almost certainly will. And that's sad, there's no doubt about it. Believe me, I want to revolutionize the system, find ways of lowering the costs while still using ethical practices and ensuring that all parties get fair wages. But guys, I feel the same way about healthcare in the US. I want to find ways to lower the insane costs of healthcare and insurance while still ensuring that doctors actually have incentive to go to and through med school and residency and fellowships. I feel similarly about higher education. I want to find ways to lower the cost of higher education in this country so that young graduates aren't paralyzed by student loans that they have little to no hope of repaying. I want a lot of things, and lower adoption costs is just one of them. But just as I felt compelled to sign on the dotted line for student loans at the age of 18, I feel similarly stuck within the adoption world. It's a many pronged seesaw, I tell you. You want your adoption to be ethical, but also cheap, but also fast. Tip to far to the "cheap" range with one agency or attorney, and you've got to start looking at the ethics. Similarly, anyone promising a fast track to an adoption, especially in the international world, is probably practicing unethical practices.

So is the longest or most expensive route the most ethical? Maybe the longest, but certainly not the most expensive. Sam and I receive a small breakdown of the fees for each adoption scenario, and honestly this is the very first thing I look at. And it's not just the bottom line (though that's important too) but if we see really exorbitant numbers in the breakdown, I'm either saying no immediately or asking for clarification before we ever request that our profile gets sent. While we fully believe that all parties involved in the adoption process deserve to get paid for their services, we're also not interested in single-handedly funding their kids' college fund, you know?

For a lot of couples the price tag is a giant, flashing stop sign. And I get that. It was for us for a long time. At every single junction in the infertility treatment journey, assisted reproductive technology proved the cheaper option for us. And you've all heard me whine for a quite a few years now about the cost of infertility treatments, so you know those aren't cheap either. It's hard to chose the more expensive option. Even for us, a couple who was for adoption, who intended to adopt one day, even for us it was hard. Think about it like this: IVF is, let's use a nice round number, $15,000. Everyone hopes that the $15,000 will yield baby number one and brother or sister on ice. Adoption is, let's average it out and say $30,000. That's for one baby, no future siblings in that deal. When you're looking at building every. single. piece of your family at a substantial price tag, you start to look at the price tag a little more closely. Buy one, get one starts to look better and better... I'm just being honest here, folks. So yes, adoption is beautiful. Yes, adoption is a very valid choice. Yes, adoption is worth the money. Adoption is all of those things, but it's often not the cheapest family building choice, so it's easy to see why many infertile couples choose to toss the dice with infertility treatments rather than change gears and switch into an entirely different world that's neither simple, nor easy, nor cheap.

Thanks for diving in with me everyone. I hope this little series helped to answer at least one of your questions about adoption. I know I've been neck deep in the adoption world for a few months now and I still have tons of questions. It really is a whole new world and I'm still learning something new everyday.

Friday, November 7, 2014

It's Never Easy

November is Adoption Awareness month and as such I'm using the blog to shine a light on some topics in adoption that we all have questions about. Last time I discussed just a very, very few of the reasons that adoption isn't simple. We all want adoption to be simple, and in its most basic principle it is: a family wants and has the means to care for a child. A child needs a loving, forever family. Move the two together and you should have instant happiness. But like most things in the world, it's just not that simple. There are SO many things that complicate the situation, things that many of us are unaware of, so I hope the first post helped to open our eyes to what can make adoption anything but simple.

Adoption is also not easy. The process of adoption is certainly not easy; I can attest to that. But I think many of my friends who are adoptive parents would also say that the after is hard too. Everything doesn't magically become easy the moment the judge bangs the gavel and declares the child forever yours.... the hard stuff continues. If you think about it from a Biblical perspective, Jesus instructs us to look after and care for widows and orphans... it wouldn't be a command if it was easy and natural. A recent study said that around 33% of Americans think about or consider adoption at some point... less than 2%  actually adopt. That's obviously a very small percentage, so what happens to the other 31%? Why do they stop at just thinking? Many families that are interested in adoption turn away, and many are scared away because of the difficult process. So let's take a look at what about adopting and adoption is hard.

Adoption is always about brokenness and loss. Every day something reminds me of this truth again and again. A child who was once the oldest is now the middle child. The family birth order is broken. A child who once spoke the same language as everyone around him suddenly finds himself in a new town with people who look and sound nothing like him and no one speaks his language. The child experiences loss of everyone and everywhere he knew. When a child leaves a broken home where one or both of his parents have died or are unable to parent her, she is placed into a new home where everyone and everything is different and they call it family. Gah... that's crazy hard. Even infants experience loss. There's been a push for additional research lately into maternal separation and how the initial loss of the one person the child innately recognizes by sound and smell affects the child going forward. In the earliest moments of life, that baby knows loss. That's tough to even comprehend.  And parenting kids who have experiences with brokenness and loss is hard. If you want to read an often hilarious and witty post about parenting internationally adopted children after the airport, read this post from Jen Hatmaker's blog. Or better yet, look around you, find an adoptive mama, and ask her what is hard for her right now... I bet it boils down to brokenness and loss. Every single adoption scenario is surrounded by the theme of brokenness and loss, and that is anything but easy.

Adoptions fail. Ughh. I kind of want to vomit just typing that sentence. It's true and we all know it, but that doesn't make it less terrifying. In fact, for adoptive or potential adoptive parents, it makes it more. Studies suggest that, historically, anywhere between 10 and 25 percent of adoptions "disrupt" which specifically covers scenarios in which a child is placed with a family and then is removed prior to the finalization of the adoption. This does not include adoptions in which the birth mother changes her mind and chooses to parent prior to the placement of the child. To bring it a little closer to home, our consultant shared that she's seen about 10% of matches that occur in the last 12 weeks of pregnancy fail. That's not east to swallow and it's certainly not easy to prepare for.

Adoptions are always analyzed. Always. And anytime problems arise, the solution is a new policy or law. Those policies or laws complicate the process. They are not necessarily or inherently bad, in fact, when you think about it, most are good, or at least started with good intentions, but few if any are in place to make adoption easier. Let's look at an example: ICPC also known as the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children is a law in the US within all fifty states that requires both the state where the child is born and the state where the adoptive parents are returning to give approval before the child is moved. At first glance that sounds dumb. "It's my baby and I can go wherever I want with it," right? No one polices the movements of families after they leave the hospital if they gave birth to the child. But prior to the creation of this law, if a family left one state and entered another, they simply fell off the radar. The sending state felt it was no longer its responsibility to follow up and the receiving state had no knowledge that a family had crossed state lines with an adopted child. ICPC makes the two states communicate for the safety of the child. I would venture to say that we want ICPC and most other laws and policies to exist in order to protect our children, but those laws and policies rarely make it easier to adopt and often make it more expensive. Continuing with the ICPC example, Sam and I will most likely adopt from out of state (statistically speaking there are more scenarios outside of Georgia than within) but that will require an extended stay in another state, typically anywhere from 10 to 14 days. The policies and laws certainly don't make things easy.

Adoption is slow. And waiting is hard. Can I get an amen? My infertile sisters know this first hand. Waiting is hard. You can consider yourself a patient person, but when months turn into years, everyone's patience begins to run out. Lifeline Children's Services provides an estimated timeline for their international programs, ranging from twelve months to eight years depending on the country and the specifications for the child. Nightlight Christian Adoptions suggests that an average wait for a domestic infant adoption is one to two years. Years people. Adoptions often take years. And that's hard for anyone.

While you wait, things can change. This typically affects international adoption, but it happens in domestic adoption too. Policies are constantly being put into affect and cancelled. Everyone heard about it when Vladimir Putin, Russia's President, signed a bill closing Russian adoption to the US. You may not have heard about the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since September of 2013, the DRC will not grant the children exit visas, so there are currently hundreds of children who have been legally adopted, yet cannot leave the country and join their new families. If you're looking closer to home, policies and bills are constantly put forth within a state or nationally that can affect the adoption process. Take for example the Adoption Tax Credit, in the years 2010 and 2011 it was a refundable credit. However if your adoption became delayed and finalized in 2012, the credit was no longer refundable. When things change, our expectations are often unmet, and that is never easy.

Adoption is not easy. I think that most of us agree about that. In fact, I think fear is what drives many people from considering adoption. On one hand that makes me sad, but on the other, I think a healthy fear of a situation is often good. Painting a situation to be something it's not will never help anyone. Everyone needs to know what they are stepping into before they get there. However, I'll add this: adoption isn't easy, but I truly believe it's worth it. Ask Erika how she feels right now, actually don't worry about it, she already wrote it earlier this week: She writes, "I'm constantly overwhelmed by how incredibly worth it she is. Every negative pregnancy test, every pillow sopping wet with tears, every prayer that felt unanswered, every miserable Mother's Day, every dollar wasted on doctors and surgeries, every tear, every tear, every tear. Every tear was worth it."

Whether you're thinking about adoption because of struggles with infertility or because you have a heart for orphans or because you'd like to add to your family, you probably know it's not going to be easy. We all hope we're the lucky ones that magically get a push through the bureaucracy, we want to be the ones who get fast tracked to the front of the lines, but all too often adoption stories aren't about that. They are about years of waiting, they are about failed adoptions, they are about sad situations of abuse or corruption. We hope our situation will be different, somehow easier than the one we heard about last moth, but ultimately we know adoption is hard. I have about 15 friends who have adopted and I'd put money that even on their worst day, they'd say the road to adoption and the journey after is certainly not easy, bit it is all worth it.