After our reproductive endocrinologist told us "[Infertility treatments] will likely never work for you", we took several months to grieve biological children and slowly, so slowly began the adoption process.
Grieving the loss of biological children is no small thing. Some people don't care at all whether their children are genetically bound to them…but I did. All my life I've wanted to see pieces of me manifested outside of me, so I could perhaps see myself in a different light. A more forgiving light. I knew that I would adore my child in spite of the characteristics I struggle so hard with in myself, and thus, maybe I would find a deeper measure of self-acceptance.
But I guess I'm going to have to work that one out on my own.
Sixteen months after our last IVF attempt, we became active with agency to adopt internationally from Korea. You see, we thought domestic adoption was too risky. You have to be chosen - what if we were never chosen? And there are take-backs with domestic adoption. Much too risky. Better to go with a guaranteed international adoption, even though the children come to you a little older (minimum 18 months-3 years).
How stupid we were. How naive.
People adopting internationally will tell you this route is certainly no 'safer'. Any sense of control equally laughable, if not more so. In the years since we became active we've seen politics and international relations kill potential adoptions. Shut down borders. De-activate countries with which agencies/the U.S. have been working with to adopt children. Parents on waiting lists for one country suddenly forced to start over with another.
Adoption is not for the weak, people.
Two weeks after we became active…we learned we were pregnant. With Anna.
That same day we received a phone call from our town home tenant saying her best friends teenage daughter was 7 months pregnant and considering adoption, could she show her our Christmas card? Three days later with met with the unmarried couple we'll call Jack and Jill and Jill's mother. She was heavily pregnant with a girl, 18, naive. By the end of the meeting, we were a 'go'! We didn't even bother to bring up our own positive pregnancy test, because, why?! Surely this would go the same as the blighted ovum of January - we were just hoping not to have a D&C. We could not, after all, have biological children because of my decrepit eggs, remember?
We were excited, nervous, feeling incredibly lucky that we would be the people other adopting couples hoped to be - those that got picked! That had one plan but OMG an even better, more immediate one came along! Finally, the family-building gods were shining on us.
The following Friday we had our mandated ultrasound to confirm there was no viable fetus growing…except…holy shit…there was. Anna. Our beautiful Anna. Even as a black and white Teddy Graham with a fluttering heart she was gorgeous. The most astounding, breathtaking thing I'd ever seen.
You can see Anna's page for the rest of her story.
Well…this threw us a little and we made an immediate appointment with our social worker who, while not telling us what to do, provided counseling and written information in the form of opinions and studies that encouraged us NOT to adopt Jack and Jill's baby. Apparently the adoption experts believe that placing two non-biologically related children together who's ages are less than 9 months apart can be detrimental for both children. An act called "artificial twinning". In our case, the children would be 6 months apart.
We spent the weekend reading the material. Googling. And came to the conclusion that we couldn't knowingly do something to someone else's child that might be detrimental to them. Because we're ethical like that. Disgustingly, pathetically ethical. (I wonder if we would be so much now. Doubt it.) We take our role of providing the very best we know to do very seriously. Who would we be if we consciously made a decision that from the get-go broke the trust of another couple who loved their child very much but in searing pain chose to let another family raise him or her because they believed that child would have a better life? Knowing that the situation we were taking that baby home to might not, in fact, be the best for them? Especially when we knew as well as anyone how desperate so many couples were for a [caucasian] baby [girl] - and here we were sitting on two babies. We couldn't be greedy.
So even though we were only 8 weeks in, still in high danger zone for miscarriage, we met again with Jack and Jill to tell them we couldn't do it. I wrote a letter, Brad had to read it. I just couldn't. I couldn't say a word, just cried. It was an impossible thing to do, to turn down the very thing we wanted so very badly, when there was certainly no guarantee we'd end up with a baby ourselves. Torture. Fear. Trepidation. Feeling like we were nailing our own coffin.
(We later learned they kept the baby, canceling on the other couple they'd chosen a few days before the birth. Thought we'd dodged a bullet.)
Then Anna dies.
When we can even begin to breathe again, we would look up to the sky and pricks of wondering what we would do now for family would seep in. Now international adoption did not feel like an option. Our hearts were again fully prepared for a newborn, an infant. Hell, now we even had a nursery all ready (prior to Anna, the room sat empty, unpainted, awaiting whatever child was meant to live there). Domestic adoption.
And one day, while painting the fence one August day…maybe donor egg in-vitro.
Throw out every card we have remaining.
We become active with a local state-wide agency. Jump through all the hoops again, go to all the educational meetings, get our fingerprints, fill out the incessant paperwork, gather documents, complete the home study, pay the fees. Sixteen months after Anna died we were active.
Six weeks later we get a call.