We've been asked about our adoption journey.
In a multi-part series, I will share our experiences. I hope our story helps you, someone you know, or helps you to understand the experiences and emotional journey of someone you love.
Our Adoption Story - Part 1: Infertility
J and I were married in 1999. We wanted to wait until we were established to have children. By that, we wanted to provide our children with the same basic material things we each had growing up - a house, a yard, the security of a home to call their own. We wanted the American Dream - 2 kids, a house, a yard, a dog, a couple of cars, not necessarily a white picket fence, but a fence none-the-less.
In 2000, after a "pregnancy scare", we stopped using birth control. We decided to put the timing of our family in God's hands. Besides, at age 30, I wasn't getting any younger! While we wanted children, I prayed every month that we NOT be pregnant. God knew I wanted our own house before having children. When we thought I was pregnant, we had been living with J's parents. We were scared alright - you can't get pregnant while living with your parents! That's just wrong.
In 2001, I still wasn't pregnant. We had the house. No fence, but a beautiful back yard with a shed, and a pond at the edge. I did the daily temperature readings, and charting and we were cautious to set to work 'in the window'. It got to be less about fun and more about work. Each month, I was disappointed. I felt like a failure.
Finally, we went to the doctor for testing. J got to get happy in a cup, while I had to undergo some very painful fertility testing procedures. To my deep surprise, I checked out perfectly healthy. I had had several operations and a pretty serious bout with endometriosis when I was in my early 20's so I thought for sure my tubes were blocked or out of place or something.
I remember exactly where I was sitting when Dr. Cole called to tell me J "didn't have enough bad boys to do the job". I know that sounded cold, but I loved Dr. Cole's presentation. I liked that he was a frat boy gyno. He gave me the news the way I needed to hear it. He made the news bearable. J went for further testing. We had second opinions. Apparently, it is a little known chromosome defect J was born with but no one knew.
I also remember clearly, the $11,000 desk the infertility specialist sat behind when he told J and I that our only option to have biological children together was to do in-vitro fertilization. It was going to cost us $15,000. Without skipping a beat, he said based on my cycle, he had an opening in 2 weeks that he could start us on. Yeah, like I have $15,000 just burning a hole in my pocket.
Our families had their own money drama going on, so in-vitro was not an option for us financially. But there were some social and spiritual reasons why we couldn't do it as well. With in-vitro, it was possible that we would have multiple embryos formed. Do we implant one at a time? Multiple at a time? We could scarcely afford one round of in-vitro. How were were going to afford two or three? And what if all the embryos took? I don't want to carry twins or multiples!! Do we do selective eliminations?
And what about the embryos after we are done having kids? Do we destroy them? Do we sell or adopt them out? And if someone else gets our embryo(s), would we know who and be able to stay in touch for the next 30 years so our kids don't end up dating or marrying their sibling?
My heart goes out to anyone who goes through fertility treatments. It is NOT an easy road, nor is it a string of easy decisions. I will never condemn anyone for choosing the path they chose to become parents. It is not an easy road at all.
The good news is, J's parents felt sorry for us and took us to Disney World the following month. We had a wonderful time but that was one of the hardest weeks of our lives. I can't tell you how many mixed race children were running around all 5 or 6 of those theme parks. At one point, I asked J if it was mixed race child week at Disney World - there were that many of them there. It was a wonderful trip, but I really could have done without all those mixed children around. I wanted to cry half the time.
I hated getting my period each month. It was a regular reminder of what a failure I was. I thought maybe this was my punishment for my youthful indiscretions. I felt like J, who was this wonderful man that would be a terrific father, was being punished because of my past sins. Logically, biblically, not accurate. But if I didn't blame myself, who could I blame - my husband for something that he was born with? My in-laws for birthing him? Or God? It was me. It was easier, neater, cleaner, more acceptable to blame myself.
I did not know it at the time, but J thought I might leave him for someone who could give me a child. Leaving J was not a thought on my mind. To me, it was J who had wanted children so badly. I wanted to be able to fulfill J's dreams. Our roles early on in our marriage was J as the dreamer with grand plans and ideas and me as the figurer outer of how to make his dreams come true financially. I couldn't make this dream work out for him. I felt like even more of a failure.
There is this song, by Heart, that talks about a woman who picks up a hitch hiker. It turns out, she picked him up so she could get pregnant because a child was the one thing the man she loves couldn't give her. I used to think she was a horrible person. And what a horrible song. But now I understand how someone who was desperate to have a child could do this. To this day, I have a hard time listening to that song, but I can't turn it off either. Leaving my husband was not part of my thought process. Sleeping with another man to have a child was never an option. I don't agree with the choices of the woman. But if I met her today, I'd give her a hug because I know she was hurting.
It hurt so much to see other people with children. To see pregnant women. Two days after being told we would never be parents, a friend took me to a paper party. There were 6 women there, including us. Of those, 3 were pregnant!!! I wanted to run in a room and cry. I wanted to get out of there but my friend was driving and she wasn't leaving any time soon.
I remember J's brother, Marine 1, and sister-in-law, Faith Chick, going through infertility testing around the same time as us. Faith Chick, told me the doctor said Marine 1 had 'champion sperm'. How unfair was that!! They were brothers. They should both have the same defect. But life isn't about fair.
Then Faith Chick got pregnant. That was so hard for me. I had to be happy for her. They had been trying and she had had her own fertility issues to deal with. But it was hard to be happy. She lost that baby. And I felt so horrible for her. Then she got pregnant again. And again, I tried to be happy for her. My mother-in-law was so happy and thrilled. Giddy, almost. I had to sit there and pretend to be 'in to it' when all I wanted to do was apologize for being such a failure as a daughter-in-law and all I wanted to do was bawl in a corner. I felt like a selfish, spoiled brat. I hated myself. I worked hard not to hate pregnant woman. Faith Chick's struggles taught me that I should not look at pregnant women with jealousy and bitterness. That I had no clue what that woman had to go through to get pregnant. It helped to heal my heart towards pregnant women.
I was open to adoption. I'd been open to adoption since I was in my early 20's when my then boyfriend and I saw Jesse, a little boy on the city bus, with his foster family. We said if we ever got married, we would go look for Jesse to adopt. I still pray for that boy to this day (Jesse, not the ex-boyfriend, wink!). J did not want to adopt. He was dead set against adoption. He was dead set against using donor sperm. That really ticked me off because our insurance would have covered most of the expenses if we used donor sperm. Infertility makes you ask yourself some hard questions. It makes you look at options you would never contemplate under normal circumstances.
We tried to move on with our lives. We even went car shopping and seriously thought to get a sports car. We thought we would be able to travel to world and do some fun stuff. Heck, if we can't have kids, we can live life up!! We ended up buying a Jeep instead - good thing!! Only I refused to get the one with the rear a/c upgrade. We weren't going to have kids. No way was I paying more for something we'd never use. In hindsight, I wish I gone for that upgrade.
Inside, I was dying. I remember yelling at God one day. I told him that if He wasn't going to fulfill this desire in my heart to be a parent, then He HAD BETTER take away the desire. It was too hard. Too crushing. Too overwhelming to live with that emptiness inside me with no recourse.
The thing is, I didn't realize just how much I really wanted children until I found out it wasn't an option. I thought it would be nice to have kids but I thought I could live a very happy, normal life without them.
J was working crazy hours on our church's new multi-million dollar children's building. He spent countless hours setting up lighting and sound to enhance an already decadent children's facility. A facility he dreaded going to every day because he would never have children of his own to walk those halls.
One night, J and I were arguing about it all. J left the house late at night. It scared me. He didn't normally leave after an argument and not that late at night. He came home with a bunch of baby stuff from Wal-Mart. Sleepers, blankets, socks, diapers. I put it all in a Longaberger basket. We kept that basket of baby stuff on our dresser for about a year, believing that one day, God would fill those clothes with our baby.
In the meantime, JH, one of the school teachers on staff with us shared a scripture verse at staff devotions. It was Ezekiel 37:1-10 where God commanded Ezekiel to speak to the dead bones and command them to live. JH paraphrased it to speak to her dead dreams,
"So I prophesied to my dead dreams like God told me to, and I commanded life to come into my heart's desire. And that inner dream God gave me lived and rose up, fully manifested."
I asked JH for a copy of that verse. I taped it to my computer monitor and believed that we would one day have a baby. That although our American Dream had died, God could revive those dead dreams.