Here it is, the end of the year, and it’s been a week of some serious ups and downs, with a whole lot of soul searching mixed in.
19 months after beginning the domestic adoption process – which followed years of fertility treatments, miscarriage, and a 2 year Ethiopia adoption process that was shuttered when the country closed their doors – we received this feedback for the first time from our adoption agency…
“the caseworkers are saying that age is part of their reaction. I think we need some new photos that will show how youthful you are”
I lost it. I absolutely lost it. First of all, she had NEVER indicated at all during the process (nor while taking our money) that our age would make it harder for us to adopt and waited 19 months into the process – and many thousands of dollars later on initial fees and nearly 200 profile books ordered- to tell me this…and only after repeatedly asking her for feedback (most times which were ignored).
Both Dan and I shared our dismay and frustration at her response, with her other comment that she’d “send us some sample books to look at” (gee why didn’t you do this 19 months ago? or is it because when we shared our draft book and you said it looked wonderful?) and do that “after the holidays” (because clearly us infertile childless folks just LOVE the triggers that holidays bring and hearing that we’re a massive disappointment because at 44 I’ve apparently got one foot in the grave even though Madonna and many others adopted in her 50s? Gee that helps so much).
So, Dan immediately insisted that they have a call to talk about this because dropping a bomb like this and then saying we needed to wait a couple weeks to talk about it – well that was just not cool, and so the next day they talked. She suddenly claimed that it was just ONE person’s feedback on age (not what her email said at all as you can see), and thought it was being helpful for the “more youthful photos” (clearly with no book in front of her because seriously, pictures of us biking and my husband in his many tattoos is not ‘youthful enough’?). So with that we emailed her a list of follow up questions to better understand their process, what they are actually doing to market us (and how they are marketing us) to birth mothers and also to get their exact placement numbers for couples who are a) first time parents with no kids at home and b) over 40.
A week later we finally got a response. They’ve only placed 4 couples over 40 and 1 couple over 40 who are first time parents…so really telling us to look “more youthful” is crap. Dan’s not going to wear a hair-hat or invest in Grecian Formula and I’m not going to start dressing like Cardi B… and how would that kind of BS benefit a birth mother? She deserves to see the real Us.
My faith in humanity is challenged to put it mildly. Y’all know what we’ve been through over the past four years of infertility, miscarriage and the wasted years waiting for a little girl in Ethiopia before they closed their doors (the same week our 6th and final round of DEIVF failed)…and now another 19 months of nothing beyond living in a house that is way too big for just the two of us, a house where we sleep in the room we created for the baby, filled with toys and art and things we’ve collected over the years, while we renovate our master bedroom as fast as we can just in case we “get the call”. But really, will we ever get the call?
We’re far past the average 6-12 month wait time. And my heart sinks a little more each day.
Oh yes and just for those who say “why not go back to DHS”? Actually, I did inquire again this week, and you know, for all those saying “there’s so many kids who need good homes”, I was amazed to hear back from the social worker here in town who said that we’d need to prepare to wait anywhere from 2-5 YEARS. How that is possible is beyond me, to be honest. Have you gone onto those websites where they show the pictures of kids in your state that are legally free to be adopted? There’s one boy who would now have aged out of the system, as his picture was posted as a pre-teen at least 5 years ago. And I told the social worker, I cannot wait another 2-5 years to become a mother, and I told her how messed up I thought it was that they advertise to get people to adopt then tell them that it will be years…what are these kids doing in the meantime?
My heart continues to break a little more each day. Is this the storm before the calm? Or is there an inevitability that no matter what we’ve tried, we’re not meant to build this family we’ve dreamed about for so long…?
This week we were watching Say Anything (Dan had never seen it…I know right?!) on DVD and I was reading about how director Cameron Crowe and his (now ex-) wife Nancy Wilson had twin boys via combined egg donor and surrogate, and I read another blog talking about surrogacy and that the average cost now is close to $150,000 but that, in her words, “it was so worth it”. And it brought up all the memories of how we had used up 9 of 13 embryos and our RE had asked us about surrogacy, as if after the tens of thousands we’d already spent we magically had more money to spend on a six-digit surrogate, or as if there were good chances that a 40-something female had lots of 20-something friends and relatives (I was the youngest) to volunteer to carry a child for free. That and the fact that it still may not work, and at the time all I could think of was the surrogate would get to be pregnant and I would not, and the baby would not have my genetics anyhow so wouldn’t this just be a much more expensive form of adoption? At the time, I didn’t understand that surrogacy allows those who are discriminated against based on age in the adoption process to (potentially -and if you have the $) more easily become parents. And of course you get to be there from day one, in the delivery room, etc. But it was neither here nor there – we would have had to have sold my house to afford it then what? Back to renting in a housing market that’s gone through the roof with rental costs higher than our longtime mortgage payment? Guess that sensibility was at the core of why we didn’t consider it. Guess that same sensibility in not getting knocked up during my first marriage, or by some random guy in my 30s before I met my sweetheart (IF I was by some chance fertile then…how would I know considering ob/gyns don’t automatically check that kind of stuff at your annual exam.
And….I remember why I stopped blogging about all this. Nothing like the holidays to screw with our mental.
I am starting on year five of one of those sentence-a-day journals and to look back at those days of fertility optimism and see the darkness seep in more and more each year, it makes me sad for all that innocence I lost. One entry actually said “getting pregnant is a strategy!” since then I thought that since we were going straight to donor egg IVF that we had it made. Back then my fear was of having twins and adoption going through, like our former neighbor. Who knew the answer would instead be “None of the above, sucker!”???
So we say goodbye to this year, our first entire year without any injections, without any real optimism if I’m being perfectly honest. And there you have my resolution for 2019: find that hope again in the world, in the future, in myself. By any means necessary, find and claim the light inside myself and shine, dammit.
Here we go.