Last month was a big one for us. After getting yet another negative pregnancy test and wading slowly through a deluge of mixed feelings, I was struck with the urge to move forward. Every month we try to conceive and every month, when the second line fails to appear on the test, I feel this unsettling mix of disappointment and relief. I have been finding it hard to keep up with the supplement and medication regimens that my doctor has recommended, and I'm starting (again) to doubt whether or not our family really needs more children to be complete.
I've searched my soul so many times over that question - enough that I know these doubts won't hold up to my true heart's desire for more kids. I want them. I know that I do. But do I want to get pregnant again? Not so much. All together, I've been pregnant five times and I have one child. A big part of me feels like that's enough.
That doesn't mean our family has finished growing, or even that I won't continue to try to get pregnant. We still want another child, but it feels like it's time to start actively pursuing another path.
I have always been drawn to adoption. During the years before we had C I did piles of research on the topic. If it hadn't been for it being SO expensive, I may not have gone forward with fertility treatments at all. I was confident that I could love a child whether or not it was tied to me biologically. Even now that I've felt the love I feel for a biological child first-hand, and experienced the life-changing process of pregnancy and birth, I am still just as confident that adoption would be a good fit for us.
Scott had been on the fence about it for a while - but not for any emotional reasons. Like me, Scott has plenty of room in his heart for adopted kids. The challenges that make him nervous are purely practical. For example - how will we pay for it? We're not wealthy people, and adoption can easily cost as much as a year of his salary(or more!). With me only earning about half of what he does, the whole prospect sometimes feels impossible.
But the more I read stories from adoptive families the more I feel hopeful that we too can find a solution for growing our family this way. After all, there are many different paths to adoption. Depending on how things shake out, we may end up adopting an older child, a child with special medical needs, or even a group of siblings. We just don't know what's coming, but I believe that if we make a commitment to adopt and keep our hearts open to the many possibilities, we'll succeed.
Thankfully, Scott has agreed to move forward with the adoption process, so we're finally on the same page. He does still want to keep trying to have our own biological baby, so we're kind of meeting in the middle. I've decided to keep trying but stop obsessing over trying to conceive. If it happens, it happens. Of course, I still have to take shots for half of the month, pop progesterone, and inhale supplements day in and day out so it's not exactly a vacation in mama-land. Oh well. Nothing good comes easy, right?
Last week we submitted inquiries to two different adoption agencies and signed up for an orientation on the foster care system. As of now, we are exploring the three following options. Which option will suit us best, and which we will ultimately commit to pursuing remains to be seen. Step one is all about investigation and looking out for signs and feelings to guide our way.
Private Domestic Adoption
This is the closest we would be able to come to the experience of having our own baby. These kinds of adoptions usually begin when a child is a newborn or an infant. Domestic adoptions are often "open" meaning that our child could potentially have a relationship with their birth parents. Domestic adoptions also seem to be the fastest route. According to the agency we are looking at, adoptions generally take between six and eighteen months for families who don't request specific race or gender, which we wouldn't. The catch here is that this kind of adoption can cost an upwards of 30-40 thousand dollars - or more. Seems impossible BUT I think if we took out a home equity loan, did tons of fundraising, and saved like misers we could probably get away with it.
International Waiting Child Adoption
Infants and toddlers in other countries, like China, are often available for adoption due to having special needs.These can range from severe medical conditions to physical handicaps to minor correctable problems. While the idea of children with serious medical problems waiting in an orphanage definitely pulls my heart strings, Scott and I don't have the resources to provide the kind of care that this kind of child would need. If we adopt a waiting child, they will probably have a correctable issue, such as cleft palate, club foot, etc. In addition to the adoption fees and travel, which are estimated in the neighborhood of 25 thousand, we would be responsible for any surgeries or procedures the child needed when we got home.
The most accessible and cost effective way for us to adopt would be through the foster system. This programs connects foster parents with children who need homes, but the primary goal is almost always family reunification. That means that you might foster an infant, toddler, or child for anywhere from days to months - or even up to a year and a half before the child is returned to their parents or the option to adopt becomes available. You can sign up just to foster infants or kids under a certain age, but the demand for adoptive families for special needs, older children or sibling groups is much higher. This option appeals to me on a lot of levels, but also scares me quite a bit.
Do I have the strength to love babies and let them go? Am I a good enough parent to help older kids get through what is probably one of the most frightening events of their life? A voice inside my heart tells me that parenting should be a selfless act, and that being a good foster parent would fill my soul - even if it also broke my heart. What finally drove me to pursuing this further was the realization that if this were my sister's child, then yes, I could without a doubt hand that baby back to her when she was finally ready. Perhaps finding genuine love in my heart for the baby's birth mother is the key to navigating the process.
The icing on the cake here is that foster care is totally do-able. Orientation and training is free, and foster parents are even paid a daily stipend to help support care. The adoption process (when you finally get to it) is totally affordable and often completely offset by a tax credit. Getting started is relatively quick - but it could be years before an adoption takes place. Practical challenges, like driving kids to visitations as often as twice a week, suddenly having a school-aged child and knowing nothing about homework, being handed a teenager while I still feel like a motherhood newbie, or being up all night with a babies I probably wouldn't be able to nurse, do give me pause, but challenging is pretty much the nature of parenthood anyway, isn't it?
And of course, we are still going to keep trying to get pregnant and have a baby the old fashioned way - at least until one of these other options starts to pick up speed. I have a lot of feelings about it, but of course I would be thrilled to carry another beautiful baby all the way to birth. Despite my lack of enthusiasm my doctor does still think it is possible and has encouraged me to keep trying. I guess we will just have to wait and see what happens.
The one thing all of these paths have in common is UNCERTAINTY.
Will we be able to raise enough money to fund domestic adoption? What if no birth mothers pick us? What if we do get matched and then she changes her mind after the birth (which I could completely understand)?
What if we don't qualify for international adoption? How would we deal with a two week trip to China? Could we bring C with us? What if our insurance denies the new baby's procedures? What if their recovery is really intense? Can we really handle something like that when I can barely find time to shower?
What if we don't get to adopt the baby we foster and my heart breaks into a million pieces? What if Scott's breaks? Or C's? What if we foster older kids and they hate us or hurt C? What if they love us and we love them but the state still decides to send them back to parents who we feel don't deserve them?
Will I ever be able to have another baby on my own? What if I get pregnant after we've already started the adoption process? What if I lose a baby in the last trimester? What if I have a still birth? What will my broken heart do to C? Am I risking his welfare by even trying to do this again?
Am I good enough mother to raise another woman's baby? Would I choose me if the roles were reversed?
But underneath them I can sense something I maybe haven't felt so much since the second loss. Maybe, just maybe, I'm finally feeling hopeful again.