infertility

Top 10 List of Things to Do While Waiting to Adopt

hourglass-vector-237661Waiting for ‘the call’ telling you you’re going to be a parent?  How often do you refresh your email, make sure your phone is on and check in with adoption agencies to make sure you haven’t missed ‘the call’?   I know I’m guilty of all of the above but also knew I had to keep myself busy while waiting for the call or I would go crazy.

Here’s my top 10 list of things I did while passing time waiting for ‘the call’. We got the call 6 days before our son was born so I was definitely glad I’d done some of these things ahead of time.

10.  Research daycare options – you might not have much notice and may need to go on waiting lists as soon as you bring your little one home depending on how long you take off and where you live.

9.  Make a list of the necessities you’ll need to make it through the first few weeks – as we went down the private adoption route and knew the birth parents could change their minds during that first month, we tried to buy as little as possible and only focused on the necessities.  Even after the first month, we found we really didn’t need to buy a lot and took all the hand me downs we could get.

8.  Read books on parenting and/or adoption – my favourite was ‘No Biking in the House without a Helmet’ as it was a real-life story about a family who adopted internationally and was quite comical.

7.  Update your adoption profile book.   Have you been on the market longer than planned?  It never hurts to get some advice on your adoption profile book and make some updates.

6.  Research playgroups or classes you may want to attend.  There are a lot of free groups to join so look it up on the internet or ask other moms in your area.  Only being able to take 9 months off for adoption leave, I wanted to enjoy every minute of it and get to know other moms.

5. Network with other adoptive parents or people waiting to adopt.  Waiting for ‘the call’ knowing you’ve done all you can do is has so talking to others in a similar boat or hearing success stories can be a great way to pass the time.

4.  Work out – build up your core muscles.  This was a mistake I made – I hadn’t worked out in a while and all of a sudden carrying my 10 lb son up and down stairs every day did a number on my back.

3.  SLEEP IN!!!  I was told this a thousand times but it’s so true so enjoy it while you can.

2.   Go out on dates (if you’re saving money for adoption, find inexpensive dates such as going for a walk, playing a game while drinking some wine, cooking a nice romantic dinner).

1.  Enjoy life and know that everything happens for a reason. 

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Crossroads – When to Move On from Fertility

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You’re at a crossroads; you’ve already sunk a lot of money into fertility treatments and can’t imagine moving on and sinking more money into other avenues such as adoption.  You’re probably thinking what’s a little bit more money if the next treatment works?  I’ve come all this way, do I really want to start over with something like adoption? I think most people who’ve gone through fertility have all stood at this crossroad at some point or another so in this post I’d like to share my crossroads experience.

Let me start off by saying that moving on from fertility is an extremely tough decision and one that comes with high emotions.  No one’s going to say going through the fertility or adoption process is fun. I still get angry thinking of the thousands of dollars we spent on fertility treatments and yet there’s no real reason we couldn’t get pregnant but then I look at my beautiful, happy, healthy, amazing son and know that everything happened for a reason.

Looking back I’d have to say I was never 100% on board with doing fertility treatments.  I disliked that we had unexplained fertility and there wasn’t a specific fertility issue the doctors could focus on; I disliked being late for work after having been at the clinic for 2-3 hours a few days a month and I disliked the costs of the treatments.  We had just upgraded our home and I had switched jobs – not the ideal time for increased expenses and missing work but then again, there’s never going to be an ideal time or extra money floating around.

From a young age, I’d always said I would adopt if I couldn’t have biological children.  Perhaps this is something a lot of people say but for me adoption was always a prominent option.  On my first date with my husband I asked him if he wanted kids.  He, thinking that was a pretty intense first date question, said yes.  I then asked him if he would adopt if he couldn’t have kids and he said that was a decision he’d have to make when the time came.  Well that time came.  After 3 failed rounds of IUI and 1 failed round of IVF, I had emotionally moved on to adoption.  I had Chris and I attend an information session and I was starting my research.  Chris on the other hand was still stuck on fertility.  Let’s do one more round of IVF with the frozen embryos – it costs less than a fresh cycle thereby balancing the costs of the two cycles, he thought.  It made sense and so we did it.  I wasn’t going to push him down another avenue, I wanted him to get there on his own.  When we got the negative test result that November, I was relieved.  I could say goodbye to fertility and pursue what I knew would guarantee us a family, adoption.  I knew the process wasn’t an easy one and still cost a lot of money but I felt more positive knowing we would become parents sooner or later.  Chris was also ready to move on.  Chris and I had a ‘goodbye fertility’ ceremony where we chucked all of our fertility stuff (including a fertility doll we got in New Orleans – hey, we were willing to try everything!) into the garbage and went to our favourite restaurant for a great meal and lots of wine.

Not everyone can move on so easily from fertility and that’s ok.  You have to move on when you’re ready to move on and pursue only the avenues you want to pursue.  Everything happens for a reason and unfortunately a lot of the time we don’t know the reason until we’re well down the path and at that point can then understand it.

Hang in there – your ‘HAPPY’ is coming! Staying strong during the holidays.

The holidays can be a really hard time for people trying to have a baby or adopt.  I know – I went through it for 4 years.  My dream had always been to announce Chris and I were pregnant at Christmas by people unwrapping a picture of our ultrasound or an ornament saying something about Baby’s First Christmas with the following year on it.  I’d also had the dream of telling Chris on Christmas Eve somehow (not wrapping the pregnancy test though as that would just gross him out lol).  I was one of those people who thought we’d get pregnant on the first shot and I could plan every step of the way – wait, that’s not how it works?!

I knew adoption could happen fast but if you’d told me at Christmas last year that I would be a mom in less than 4 months, I’m not sure I would have believed it.  I know everything happens for a reason and a lot of time I think our journey happened the way it did to throw a curve ball at me and teach me you really can’t plan everything. This is our first Christmas with Jackson and looking back at last Christmas, I can’t believe all of this happened in less than 1 year!  We are so lucky and blessed to have the most beautiful, amazing 8-month old son.

Have you ever had those moments in your life where all of a sudden it dawns on you how lucky or happy you are?  I’ve been happy since the day Jackson came into our lives but it was in August when it really hit me.  On August 26th, 2013 I was sitting on the lawn of the Molson Amphitheatre (Toronto) listening to my favourite band Mumford & Sons perform my favourite song ‘I Will Wait’ and in that moment I knew life was perfect and I was the happiest I’d been in a long time. I Will Wait was my theme song when I needed a pick me up during the adoption wait.  I still smile and dance every time I hear it.

To those of you waiting, I hope 2014 is your year and that you have a special song to get you through the tough days!

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Shhhhh Don’t Tell Anyone but We’re Getting Fertility Treatments. Infertility – the taboo subject!

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In my mom’s group today a woman asked for advice on what to say to someone who’s experiencing infertility which gave me the idea to write this blog.  While I can only speak from my point of view, I’m hoping some of the stuff in here may help you when talking to someone going through fertility treatments.

Since I’ve opened up about my struggles with infertility and our journey to adoption I’ve heard from quite a few people who admitted they’re seeking fertility help.  In fact, I think I know more people who are either trying to/or have conceived via fertility treatments than those who had natural conception.  So why does no one talk about it?  I’m sure there are many reasons people don’t talk about it but here’s what I could come up with (some of which applied to me in the beginning):

  • It’s very personal – not everyone is open to talking about what comes with fertility, including having sex, male and female reproductive parts and issues.
  • It’s embarrassing – people are supposed to procreate so when you can’t, you feel like something’s wrong with you.
  • You probably want to surprise people with your pregnancy – I recently found football bibs I’d bought over 4 years ago when Chris and I started trying as that’s what I was going to give to him when I found out we were pregnant.  Well, all my ideas for surprising Chris and our families went out the window after year 1 and people close to us knew every time we went for a treatment.
  • You don’t want people constantly asking how your treatments are going – especially since most people wait until they’re past the 12 week mark to make their announcement.
  • What if work treats you differently knowing you’re trying to have a kid?  What if they don’t put you on big projects because of it?
  • You don’t want to get other people’s hopes up – during our adoption journey, I finally asked our parents if they wanted to join us for our rollercoaster ride or wait to tell them anything until it was over, i.e., we had been matched.  In our case, they both wanted to join us for the ride but we were very clear there would be a lot of ups and downs along the way.

I’m sure there are a lot more reasons but that’s all I could come up with this afternoon.   In my instance, I’m probably too open and my husband is very private.  This resulted in me telling quite a few people and talking about it a lot and my husband telling less than a handful and rarely talking about it.

So what if you know someone going through fertility issues?  What can you say to them?  Again, this will vary depending on the person but below are what I found helpful (and what I didn’t find so helpful).

Helpful:

  • Just under a year ago I had a girls weekend with my mom and she admitted that she never knew what to say to Chris and I.  I think this was one of the best lines I could have heard.  The thought is there without trying to come up with the right piece of advice.
  • Be honest.  In my case, my worst fear was a friend/family member not telling me they were pregnant in case they hurt my feelings.  This never happened to me but I always feared it would or that I’d hear through the news through somebody else.
  • Acknowledge something like a baby shower might be hard on them but you’re really glad they came.  (Or if your friend finds it too painful to attend, let them know that’s ok too).
  • Ask how they’re doing and leave it up to them if they want to give you details.  Trust me, if someone wants to talk about what they’re going through, they will.

So, maybe not the best to say:

  • As soon as you stop thinking about it/trying, it will happen.  Guess what? Easier said than done! You NEVER stop thinking about it/trying – it will always be in the back of your mind.  Sometimes you think you’re not trying but it’s not until you’re at the stage where you finally have your bundle of joy that you realize how free you are from not trying anymore.
  • Those fertility drugs are making you crazy.  Definitely NEVER say this.  Ok, so this one’s more for those hubbies out there.
  • Oh you’re not drinking, are you pregnant?  Lots of people don’t drink when they’re trying to conceive, esp. when on fertility drugs.
  • Don’t assume things like a baby shower are hard for people going through infertility.  You both have the same goals in mind, some people’s just take longer to come true but seeing others around them become parents can provide hope and joy.
  • Have you tried……..?  The answer will usually be YES.  While you can share stories of friends conceiving through acupuncture, naturopaths, etc. the person going through it has probably already explored all the options they’re comfortable with and spent tons of money in the process.

Overall, everyone goes through something difficult in their life whether it be infertility, an illness, or some type of loss and in the end they’ll talk to those they’re close with and who will be positive supports.  All you can really do is listen, be supportive and stay positive and hopefully you’ll be one of the people getting the ‘good news’ call very soon!

Mastering Rejection – from trying to conceive to adoption

A while ago I added up all of the periods I’ve gotten since we started trying to have kids and said the following to Chris ‘do you know we’ve had to face rejection around 30 times for each cycle I went through trying to get pregnant?’  I wasn’t trying to be a downer.   30 sounds like a pretty big number but looking back I don’t feel like it was a big number.  I guess it got easier with each occurrence.  I’d be sad for a day or two and then move on focusing on the future and the great things to come.

We’ve been on our adoption journey for just over a year now and have had to experience the same highs and lows as we did in the fertility world.  We’ve had to face rejection a few times now with adoption.  We get contacted either by a birth mother online or through an adoption agency which results in some excitement – then we’ve made it through to the final stages which results in a really high moment –  then we don’t get picked which results in a really low moment but we learn something from each experience we go through and each time gets easier.  As I tell Chris, let me have these super high moments even if they’ll only last a day.  I’d rather relish in them than not have them at all.  Some people think it’s worse coming in 2nd but I’m just happy to make it as far as we do.  It gives me hope that one of these days will be our lucky one.  Facing rejection through adoption has been far more difficult than facing it with fertility treatments – I guess it’s because it’s the closest we’ve come to being parents.  I almost look at it as an early miscarriage.  We had a glimmer of hope but it wasn’t meant to be. 

Fast forward to just before New Years Eve 2012 and us deciding what to do.  We usually spend it with our friends and it’s always a blast but I also always find New Years overrated, especially because each year I think it will be our year to have kids and for 3 years we’ve seen that dream come and go.  I know it will happen and it’s always better to focus on the positive but I’m also trying to be realistic.  This New Years we approached midnight a bit differently.  We were content knowing we’ve done everything we can for our journey and it will happen.  Maybe not this year but definitely in the next few. Again, I’d rather be realistic and live life versus thinking it’s going to happen any day now.

Coming Full Circle on Private Adoption

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This post expands on the last post, the ever expanding elastic of our adoption    mindset and why we chose to pursue private domestic adoption as one of our avenues.  I’ll come back to the other two avenues in later posts.

Let’s go back to the beginning and our first couple of months investigating and learning about adoption.  We had 3 choices: international adoption, private domestic adoption (adopting a newborn within Ontario) and public adoption (through Children’s Aid).  You can choose to pursue one, two or all three.  It just gets more costly and for international adoption you can only choose one country to adopt from.

The Before

What we first learned about private domestic adoption scared us, I’m not going to lie.  First off, it’s kind of like online dating in the fact that you put yourself out there and wait to be chosen by a birth family looking for a home for their child.  You make what is called a profile book that speaks to who you are as a couple and your values and beliefs and this is used as the basis to showcase couples to birth families.  There is no registry to add your name to where you’ll eventually be chosen because your time has come.  How do you get your names out there?  One way is to post your profile on websites such as Canadaadopts.com or adoptionconnections.ca and wait to see if a birth parent contacts you.  You can also register with adoption agencies (usually social workers or lawyers).  Then the question becomes how many agencies should we register with?   Each agency comes with a registration fee to handle the paperwork, presentations of your profile up until you’re matched so it tends to come down to a question of how much money do we want to spend registering.

As for the matching, the birth family, with the help of a social worker/adoption agency, chooses the couple that they feel is the right fit for their child.  Sometimes you meet in person and sometimes it’s based solely on your profile book.  (Good thing Chris and I are in sales and marketing lol!)  You never know what’s going to stick out in your profile so you try to be as real as possible and hope something jumps out at whoever’s searching.

Once you’re matched, it’s super fantastic but you also never know if the birth mother will change her mind and decide to parent.  The birth mother also has 28 days after the baby’s born to change her mind.   I totally understand and agree with this law but at the same time, it’s heartbreaking for any couple who has to go through it.

The last thing we learned about is what’s called open adoption.  Open adoption is where the birth family still has a connection to their child and the adoptive family whether it be through emails, pictures, phone calls or visits.  More and more adoptions are becoming open adoptions.

Needless to say, when we found out all of the above, we thought private adoption was not for us.  Then we looked into it some more.

The After

Open adoption is truly incredible once you learn about it.  One of the amazing people I’ve met in my adoption journey put it best.  She chose to adopt internationally for the sole purpose of not having to deal with the birth family and open adoption.  Her child, adopted as a baby, is now 5 and the mother would like nothing more than to have access to his birth family and history to help answer all of his questions, of which she doesn’t have any info.  Another woman I met framed it this way ‘it’s one more person to love your child and children can never have too much love.’  Unknown birth family history can hit adoptive children at any time but from the stories I’ve heard it really tends to hit home whenever a doctor asks for medical history.  Another sore spot with adoptive children is having to do a family tree or where his/her genes come from in science class.  Some focus on their adoptive family but either way, it’s a tough situation for any adoptive child.

Yes, the selection process and potential for having the birth family change their mind and decide to parent their child would break our hearts but at the same time, being able to be there from day 1 of our child’s life and answer all of their questions about their birth family far outweighs the risks in our minds.

We have what it takes to keep riding this rollercoaster for as long as it takes and know it will be worth it in the end!

The beginning – trying to conceive

‘I can’t play sports anymore; I must eat healthier; I should reduce my coffee and alcohol intake; I need to stress less; I can’t go in hot tubs or take hot baths; I shouldn’t buy any new clothes’……  Sound familiar?  These are just some of the thoughts that went through my head in the 3 years my husband and I spent trying to get pregnant.  On top of that I can’t even count the number of times I heard ‘once you stop trying, you’ll get pregnant’ or ‘you just need to relax and it will happen’ or ‘unexplained infertility means there’s nothing wrong with you so you’ll get pregnant.’  I know everyone means well but ARGGGHHHHHHH, some people are just not meant to be babymakers.

So let me back up – I’m Shannon and since I was little I have always wanted 4 kids.  Piece of cake right?  Wrong!  I remember how paranoid I was of getting pregnant before I was ready and how cautious I was thinking ‘I’m going to be so mad if it turns out I can’t get pregnant’ – ha!  Who knew trying to have one child would be so difficult, draining and costly so the likelihood of having 4 is now looking pretty slim.

Enough of being a Debbie downer though – I’m actually in a great place now which is why I wanted to share my story to help others going through the same thing.  If there’s one thing that has gotten me through this journey, it’s the people in my life and the people I’ve met along the way. Without them this would have been a horrible few years.  My husband’s and my marriage is also stronger than ever having gone through the numerous ups and downs of this rollercoaster ride called ‘making a family’.

Last fall after our 2nd failed IVF, my husband and I attended an adoption info session and I knew in that moment I wanted to adopt – luckily my husband agreed and we’ve never looked back!  Although diagnosed with unexplained fertility we figured we’d rather spend our money and emotions on a process where we know we will get the child meant for us, however long it takes.

I hope you enjoy this blog whether you have adopted or are considering adoption or even just curious.