More Stress? Sure, Why Not!
It’s a bit interesting when you get an email from your adoption agency during your 2WW.
Our home study is now a year old and needs to be renewed – new physicals from our doctors to make sure we’re still healthy, new financial documents to make sure we’re not suddenly broke, and new fingerprint background checks to make sure we haven’t robbed any banks since last June. Oh joy! But ultimately, not a ton of time off the schedules and we’ll have this all done by mid-July.
So I’d emailed the director to see if she wanted us to drop the financials (employment verifications, tax returns, etc.) by since we’d be kinda sorta in their neck of the woods today, and she agreed. When we got there, the couple who runs the agency sat us down to let us know that the Ethiopia program is not looking good and the wait times are much longer.They said as well that once a referral is made, the wait could be another year after that to actually take home our child, instead of the normal 3-4 months.
A couple of months ago, they’d told us that they’d only done 2 referrals, of special needs kids, in 2016 to date, and that with the changes at MOWA and that the Ethiopian official who was supposed to meet with them canceled her visit with them this month, along with the corruption they were seeing, they suggested we might consider enrolling in the India program they had kicked off last year.
They said if we move to India’s program, they could transfer a small amount of what we’d paid thus far to them but that the majority ($8K for Ethiopia + USCIS paperwork fees of $1K) would be lost. They also said we could be simultaneously enrolled in both and get two children ultimately, but that we’d be paying full price. Ultimately, we could: a) add India to our list for $21K, or b) replace Ethiopia with India for approximately $17K.
They also said with India that if we were open to a special needs child (anything from severely disabled to minor issues that are medically treatable), we could get a referral in a little over 30 days, or if we wanted a “normal” child it would be within a few months. However, they let us know that India has a “combined age” requirement of 90 at the highest to allow a family to adopt a child under age 4. My husband turns 49 in 3 months which would make our combined age 91 (I know…crazy number to say out loud, right?). The director pulled up pictures of the special needs kids and my eyes got wide – these were serious, serious disabilities, things that as first time parents we – even with my husband’s background in disability services – were not ready for.
Needless to say I started to cry and my husband went silent. All my fears about the adoption process seemed to be raising their ugly head, just two days before our pregnancy test for IVF.
However, because of how it was communicated, I went right into ensuring I understood what they were telling me, by repeating back to them what I was understanding. And ultimately, I asked them this point blank:
What is your level of hope for the Ethiopia program? Is it possibly going away?
And they said they are hopeful for all of their programs and that the government said it was not going away, that the waits are just much longer than they’d predicted at the end and that they knew we wanted to get our family started as soon as possible.
Deep breath. My husband sighed audibly as well, as the way they’d portrayed things was that Ethiopia was a nightmare that would just get worse. S0 while they didn’t say this clearly, basically we did have the option of just not changing anything and remaining in the Ethiopia program.
We told them we’d think about it, picked up our home study renewal to-do’s from them (which is why we were there, as I’d brought our financials YTD, and we need to now get our updated fingerprinting done and physicals), and left.
Dan and I drove home, taking deep breaths. The first thing I said to him was, I sure hope we’re pregnant. Because honestly? I don’t mind waiting a year or two if it turns out I’m pregnant. I mean, we weren’t expecting a kiddo from Ethiopia til 2017 anyhow, so this would give us more time. We briefly talked about India but ultimately the fact was, we would not get a child in the age range we’d requested – AND hell, we just don’t have an extra $20K lying around ! And then Dan just said it succinctly, that he has no interest in joining another program, that he loves Ethiopia and that’s what we’ve fallen in love with over the years, and that’s where we need to stay. I couldn’t agree more.
So when we got home, I looked up the blog of another prospective parent who we knew were using the same agency and who’d been waiting for their referral for a couple of years, and dropped her a line (I’d connected with her several months back), asking if she’d heard this new stuff about MOWA and the program problems from our agency.
Turns out she’d heard NOTHING of the sort from them, that she’d gotten her referral in April and that she knew of several others using our agency who’d also gotten their referrals this year – none of them being categorized as ‘special needs’. She had dinner at an event in her city this month with MOWA officials who were visiting, and it was a very positive event, and that the program manager from our agency for Ethiopia has been great to work with, who has said the wheels are turning in Addis and also has said nothing even close to what we were hearing from our agency’s owners. She surmised that perhaps they were trying to get more people onto the India program…?
Along with this, she gave me the name and contact information of the agency’s program manager for Ethiopia and recommended we get a Facebook account so that we can join the group and get regular updates – a group we had just been told about for the first time yesterday, with no indication from the agency of the program manager being a good resource for us to talk to, nor that this is where all the information was about recent referrals, MOWA details, and the various dinners being held around the country for current and future adoptive families to get to meet them.
So I, begrudgingly (y’all know how much I hate FB), signed up for a Facebook account (turning off all access points beyond this group as it’s only created for this sole purpose) and found all these updates including that there have been TEN referrals that have occurred in 2016 (not the two that the agency had stated to us previously while also saying it’s been ‘stagnant’). I also emailed the agency’s program manager for the country to introduce myself and get some clarifications as to what’s up.
Guess what? She thought we were only looking for kids up to age 2 (not accurate, as up to age 4 was our request and is stated in writing in our home study) AND that we were not open to any kids with what’s termed as “minor correctable” needs (which is basically something that medical care here, such as surgery, can fix, etc., as compared to major physical/mental disabilities). Also not true – we were only told “special needs” or nothing at all – never provided with the various categories within Special Needs. Dan & I are totally fine with minor correctable issues, we just know we are not ready to take on a child with Down’s Syndrome or other issues that would require much more care than the ‘average’ child. And because of that, she estimated it’d probably be another year until referral because of these requirements because most of their kiddos are special needs. She also claimed none of the kids this year are not special needs (going against what the adoptive mom blogger just told me). SIGH. She also stated they’ve had 9 referrals (then why does FB say ten? I don’t know, whatever, at this point it’s inconsequential, I just want consistent, accurate information and I feel like I’m not getting great communication).
So, I’ve emailed both the owners and program manager to gently clarify and make sure everyone is on the same page, as I need some emotional sanity to put it mildly.
Incredibly awesome for this to be happening during 2WW!!!
And back to that other waiting game…
You know it’s funny, during the first two cycles I didn’t buy any home pregnancy tests. Didn’t even contemplate it as I only thought that the blood test would be able to tell that early. Then I saw the blogs and forums with women testing at 5,6,7 days past transfer. Fuuuuck. During cycle 3 I just took just one HPT, the morning of the blood test (did I ever mention I’ve only heard the term “beta” used online, not by my RE’s office?), so went in to the doc’s office with a bad attitude.
This time, I bought four FRER tests and started each morning at days 5,6, and 7 days past 5 day transfer (today is 7dp5dt) – and nothing but bright white. No traces, ghosts, or outlines of a second line. And while I know intellectually that many women experience minimal side effects, don’t have any implantation spotting or sore boobs, and still get positives at their blood tests, anyone who’s been through this multiple times knows that by the time you hit Day 7 and are in this quandary, it’s a fucked up feeling.
I allowed myself 2 minutes to cry in bed this morning after the negative. What if it’s a BFN tomorrow again? What the fuck will I do.
Positivity is hard on a day like this. But I’m still trying. My back is slowly recovering (nothing beyond Tylenol now, but I’m still hobbling and not able to do any real exercise or bending/squatting) but my heart is saying, quietly, what if you’re not meant to be a mother. What if you can’t have a baby and can’t even adopt one? What if you’re this huge disappointment to yourself? What if…
So I leave it at that.
Words from my Partner in Crime
Dan wanted to add his own sentiments during this process…rather than talk more about IVF or adoption, I asked him to talk about fatherhood in general.
“Becoming a father. it seems so grown up to me at times but grown up is something I want. a family is something I want having had a strange upbringing (who hasn’t ) and an even more distorted and messy adulthood .now it’s my turn to come in out of the cold as such, time to live the life I railed against so much when I was younger and angrier.
Fuck yeah it is scary very scary. How do I act and what I ‘do’ in my new role as a father? Will the kid like me? i fear teaching a kiddo how to navigate through life and deal with the many blows he or she will face as they begin their journey. Will there be a different relationship between the natural born kiddo and the adopted one? Part of me feels unqualified as I’ve really had nobody that size look up to me for advice, guidance, life decisions I feel I’m still struggling with. Sure, I’ve had a small part to play in a few kids lives but not on a 24/7 basis and no amount of guides, anecdotal advice or homespun homilies will give me any idea of what is to come. how will it change the existing dynamic within my family? Will it change my relationship with Aimee?
The questions are seemingly endless and the fear I have is that I’ve not even thought up other questions. Having a wide disconnect from my own father in the last ten years of his life has me thinking that I wish I had made that step to bridge that gap and ask what had been going on in his life as well as sharing what great change had occurred in both of our lives. I’m curious as to what he had to say about fathering (and parenting) as I never had the chance or emotional maturity to do so the first time around. It is what it is and that wound will never be cured.
Saying that though, I don’t want regret to determine my future path. Rather, I want to think there are better things ahead than those I leave behind. It is time to create and nurture a new paradigm of thinking that will allow me to provide a newer and stronger model for my son or daughter.”