Monthly Archives: August 2015

Dear Birthmother, Please Give Me Your Baby

The “Dear Birthmother” Letter is the backbone of adoption outreach, and seems to be the first step for adoptive parents in finding a child.  It’s a really strange thing to write.  At its core it’s an open letter to random pregnant women trying to convince them to give you their baby.  Writing it feels a bit barbaric, and counter to everything social convention has ever made you feel it’s ok to say to another person.  “You know that child growing inside you?  I hear you may not want to keep it, so why not give it to us?  Here’s why we’re so awesome, please call.”

But strange as it may seem, it’s an important step.  It’s our introduction to these pregnant women, our chance to make a good first impression.  Hopefully they’ll read something they like, something they identify with, or that they want for their unborn child.  Hopefully they choose us.

So how do you write a letter asking someone you don’t know to give you their unborn baby? As I stare at the blank screen and blinking cursor I’m not really sure where to start.  I find myself wondering, what would I want to read, if I were a birthmother? How would I be feeling?  What would I be looking for? Trying to get inside the head of a woman making this kind of decision is hard for me.  I’ve spent so long trying to get pregnant, how do I relate to a woman who wishes she wasn’t? I have hoped to raise a child for so long, it’s hard to understand someone who is giving up that chance.

Then I realize the one thing we have in common, the birthmother and me.  We both want to give a child the best home possible, a happy, loving life.  We both want it to have exciting experiences, make lasting memories, and feel hope for the future.  Most of all, we want it to know that it’s loved. That’s our common ground.  So I write about who we are, and the life we want to give our child.  I don’t say that I understand what she’s going through, because I don’t.   But I do respect her, and the search she has to find the right family for her baby.  And I wonder, is there a birthmother out there who wants what we have to give?


Practicing Patience

I’m not a particularly patient person.  They say it’s a virtue, and it’s definitely one I lack.  It’s not always a bad thing, it means I don’t tend to procrastinate.  I always pay my bills as soon as they arrive, I unpack the moment I get back from a trip, and I was never the one starting a term paper the night before it was due.  But it also means I get cranky standing in lines and don’t like shopping online if I can’t get the two-day shipping with Amazon prime.  Infertility involves a lot of waiting.  There was waiting for test results, waiting for treatments to work, and of course the dreaded two-week wait.  But the hardest part for me was when my doctor told us we had to wait a month to start a new cycle.  That wasn’t waiting for something to make progress, that was just standing still.

In the final months of our infertility journey it was that impatience that prompted me to start looking into adoption before we had exhausted all our medical options.  Our doctor told us we had to stand still, so I made progress on another path.  We attended info sessions at a couple of agencies, and educated ourselves on what the process entailed.  It was when we came to the point of monetary investment that we decided we could only afford to focus on one road at a time.

As we began what we decided would be our final medical cycle I let my impatience take control again.  I decided to get all our application materials in order.  If things didn’t work out (and I was convinced they would not) we would be ready to change course.  The first official step towards adoption is the application for a home study, required for all adoptions regardless of the type.  For the agency we chose, the meat of this application is an autobiographical questionnaire, 39 short answer questions that delve into everything from your childhood to your marriage and beyond.  My husband (whose level of procrastination rivals my impatience) agreed to appease me and write it before we knew if it was necessary.

It quickly became clear that this project had benefits beyond it’s intended purpose.  We were reflecting back on ourselves, learning things about our partner, and discussing philosophies that would strengthen our marriage and benefit us as parents regardless of the source of our future child.  One questions in particular stood out to me. “If you could change anything about your partner, what would you change?”  As my husband and I exchanged answers we realized we owe it to our future child to work on these faults, to utilize the time before we become parents to improve ourselves.  My husband will work to better communicate his thoughts and emotions.  I will work on my patience.

Now that a week has passed since the application was turned into the agency, it has become clear that I will get a lot of opportunities to practice patience in this process. Now I’m waiting to be contacted by a social worker.  Next I’ll be waiting for her to write our home study report. Then I’ll be waiting for a birth mother to choose us, and for the baby to be born.  There will be a lot I will need to wait for, and most of it will be outside of my control.  I will have no shortage of opportunities to remind myself to take a deep breath and relax.

Eventually things will move forward, when the time is right.  Today I opened my front door to a package from the agency full of information on starting our outreach.  A way I can make progress, something I can control! That’s enough patience for now, let’s charge ahead!

How did we get here?

So what brought us to this point, you ask? It was just over a year and a half ago that my husband and I decided the time was right for us to include a child in our family.  I was completely ignorant then of how challenging that decision would be to execute, and this is not where I thought the road would take us.  But one step at a time, and here we are.

A few months ago I joined a support group to alleviate that feeling of isolation that often comes with the silent battle.  Our small group had a variety of diagnoses, with even our therapist having faced her own fertility battle.  The four weeks of organized meetings came and went, but I have continued a relationship with two incredible women who inspire me with their strength and perseverance.  Our e-mails have provided a much needed community as the road got rough, and my husband and I made the difficult decision to change course.  The thoughts I shared with them as we closed the door on a twin pregnancy at 8 weeks was part of the inspiration for this blog.

It’s official, the pregnancy is over now.  It was a really difficult weekend for a lot of reasons.  Of course there was the news that both babies were gone.  But that was compounded by he fact that I still felt just as pregnant.  I was still super queezie all the time, exhausted, and couldn’t button any of my pants.  None of that went away just because the babies weren’t alive.  And I just wasn’t tolerant of feeling that way at all because there was no reason to.  I found myself refusing to wear the belly band and trying to force my pants to button, leaving me really uncomfortable, but I felt like that’s what I should do, there’s no reason for me to be fat any more.  I was still pregnant, but without any of the hope and excitement, and that was almost as bad as the loss its self.
I thought I wanted to miscarry naturally, but feeling the way I was I asked for a D&C.  I was worried about that too, but I just had to get it over with.  We went in yesterday, and I’m so glad I did.  I didn’t feel a thing, and they had the blood cleaned away by the time I sat up.  So now the pregnancy is officially over, and we can start to actually move on.
What’s so cruel about this whole thing is both my husband and I had completely come to terms with not having biological children.  We were ready for this cycle not to work and to move on to adoption.  But getting pregnant, and seeing such strong doubling beta numbers, had gotten us excited.  Waiting three weeks for that first ultrasound had given us just long enough to start dreaming.  So now I feel like we’re not just mourning the loss of this pregnancy and these babies, but also having to come to terms yet again with the fact that natural babies may not be in the cards for us.  I’m more upset right now when I remind myself that I won’t get to carry a pregnancy to term.  I won’t get the excited baby shower, the nesting, the anticipation with friends and family.  I know we’ll have some of that with adoption, but the uncertainty of a birth mother changing her mind means you can’t have those things in the same way.
I’m sure we’re making the right choice to move on.  It’s just a numbers game, the more we try the better our odds.  But with two embryos left, and no risk to waiting (my age won’t play a part any more since we already have my eggs) it seems like the right choice.  Maybe in a few years when we’re thinking about baby #2 there will be more research and we’ll have better luck.  Or maybe there won’t be, and it won’t work then either.  But regardless, I can’t do this any more right now.
So on Monday I turned in our adoption application.   No more pills, no more shots, no more doctors appointments, no more treatments.  It’s a little exiting to have my life back from all that.  It’s certainly not the life I though I’d get on the other side of it all, but at least our infertility saga is over for now.