Thursday, November 17, 2011

Adoption Interview Project

I was so excited to find out that my partner for this fun interview was someone who I regularly follow!  Seriously?!, over at Still Seriously?!.  I know that she has gone private, but if you would like to find out more of her story, send ME an email, and I'll forward it on to her (really, this gal's amazing!)

She and I have a lot in common including Recurrent Pregnancy Loss.  I HATE it when I know someone in this 'club' because in all reality, this club sucks!  However, she and I at times share the same wavelenght, and there have been posts she has written that I have commented and said "yep... EXACTLY".

Now... On with the questions!

Starting with an infertility question, since we both have RPL, I often wonder… Do you think it’s better to have the ability to get pregnant (but not carry to term), or to have never seen a positive pregnancy test.

Good question.  I’ve debated this forever.  So many people have told me “you’re so lucky you can get pregnant”.  But alas, for us RPL girls, pregnancy has become a double-edged sword. However, I always go back to those first few moments before RPL invaded my life.  That feeling of hope and excitement about the future is hard to explain.  When you’re pregnant (the first few times before ‘pregnancy despair’ shows up) it’s like you have an extra spring in your step.  It was a wonderful feeling.  You almost feel like you can do anything.  Or at least, that’s how I felt. Because I had such a late loss with Mikayla, I know what it’s like to feel a baby flutter to moving around in your tummy.  I could poke her and make her move.  I loved it.  I also know what’s it like to give birth.  So, in a sense, I’ve been able to experience it ‘all’ despite not having a baby in my arms at the end of it.  But would I wish that away??? No.  Not for one minute.  As hard as the RPL has been, at least I am able to ‘cross this off my bucket list’ so to speak.  I cherish my time with my daughter in my womb.  Although miscarriage and stillbirth has been devastating, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, I feel like I have become a more compassionate, loving, stronger, and understanding person because of my journey – 5 sets of double pink lines and all.  Like the old saying goes, I guess for me it is somewhat true but bittersweet:  ‘Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all’. 

How has infertility affected your marriage?  

We got married on January 4th.  By February 3rd, I was pregnant: A COMPLETE SURPRISE.  Our marriage was thrown into the pregnancy trenches and it wouldn’t take long for miscarriage to rear its ugly head, over and over…and over again.  We had such the smallest window of hope and joy as a married couple.  And for just about 4 years straight, we’ve battled the worst things a couple could go through.  In our first year, we had a miscarriage at 13.5 weeks and the stillbirth of our daughter at 24 weeks.  Eight months into our marriage and we had to deal with a funeral home, ashes, and naming a daughter we would never get to see grow up.  It sometimes feels like we barely got off the ground.  Certainly, there was no ‘honeymoon period’.  2008 went Kaput.

To be honest, really honest, it’s been very hard.  We’ve been to counseling…thank goodness for that, turned out our counselor had 9 miscarriages herself.  That was very helpful for M because she could explain the whole range of emotions that us RPL girls go through.  We worked at trying to be just a ‘normal couple’ and scheduled time to reconnect.  However, we’ve also become very resilient as a couple.  We now know how each person grieves and what we both need to feel ‘ok’.  Despite all of the despair and sadness, we are very close in a way that is almost indescribable.  Loss can either bring you together or tear you apart.  We fought through the battle, and have hopefully come out a much stronger couple.

‘Reconnecting physically’, however, has been very, very difficult.  Sex has now become associated with pregnancy, which then becomes associated with miscarriage, which then becomes associated with heartache.  We are not the ‘active’ couple we once were.  It’s kind of sad.  It’s been really hard on M that way.  He has really struggled trying to find the motivation to rekindle things.  He says he feels kind of scarred from it all.  So it feels like our intimacy has gone Kaput too.  Ugh.  I wish I could report differently.  It’s something that we need to work on.  Thanks RPL for that.

Has the adoption process had the same trials, or different ones?

We really struggled through the education component.  Sometimes we felt like the reading was condescending.  We found that we were voicing a lot of our anger about us ‘having to do this’ while ‘others can parent and pop out kids and nobody cares’.  But we learned that this was most likely part of our grief from the past.  We come from a perspective of ‘loss’, so it also took some time to discuss and understand what an ‘open adoption’ might look like for us.  We were surrounded by fear - we didn’t want someone coming to take our baby away again.  But through lots of discussion and listening to that fear, we’ve been able to have a better understanding of the various ‘openness’ agreements and I think we’ll find that it will be a lot better than we had initially thought.

Who first brought up the idea of adoption as a means to grow your family?  How quickly did you tell other people in your family (close relatives) of your plans? 

I did!!!  After my fourth miscarriage, I started investigating internet sites of agencies in our province.  I wasn’t quite ready yet, but once I was, I think M didn’t need much encouragement.  We were both tired of hitting our head against the wall with constant failed pregnancies.  There was no hope anymore with that route. Did we want to parent?  YES.  Did biology have to be the only way we could do that? NO.  It took M a little longer to get there, but he got there.

Once we decided, we shouted it from the roof-tops!  We FINALLY felt hopeful again.  It had been a really long time since we felt that feeling as a couple.

Was your plan to adopt accepted easily/quickly by them, or did they need some time to “warm up to the idea”?   What about extended family and friends, do they know yet?

We have received very positive responses for the most part.  Everyone likes to share their story of ‘someone they know’.  That was helpful.  But the announcement also came with some very cautious tones from some.  Some shared an adoption ‘bad story’ about a life gone wrong for an adopted child…surely it had something to do with ‘the adoption’.  Gasp!  Insert eye roll.  Others talked about the horribly looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong wait and ‘oh how that will be hard for you’.  One, bless her, always retells me the story of her sister and getting the call so last minute.  That’s exciting.  It’s really been a mixed bag.  But one thing is for certain: EVERYONE HAS AN OPINION!!!

And then there’s my mother.  She’s a whole other story.  Her comments this past year have been: “Are you sure you want to have kids?  You know you can’t give them back”.  Gee, thanks Mom.  That’s helpful.  She’s been really slow to openly discuss adoption.  So I’m not really sure what her perspective is, but it sure hasn’t been a congratulatory one.  The biggest irony, she claims to be very ‘Christian’.  So that’s been hard for me to wrestle with.  Her reaction has been very disappointing and sometimes, very hurtful.  It makes me sad.

Have you talked about what you want your adoption to look like (in a perfect world?)

No, not really.  We just really want to FINALLY have a family.  In our minds, that is when perfection will come.  We’ve had so much disappointment around ‘expectations’, we’re better off not having any I think. Just plop that baby into our arms and let’s call it a day. ;)

Do you think adopted children are extra special, like they were fought harder for?

I know that I would definitely treat all of my children equally.  That’s a tricky question.   However, Adoption itself is unique and special.  One that requires handling with care, sensitivity, and love. It’s hard to answer this now, but I can sure tell you that this little one that comes to us is REALLY gonna feel the love from us.  They will play a big role in restoring the Hope we feel like we’ve lost.  Mending our hearts is a big task, so perhaps that is an expectation/hope for this child…but I’m pretty certain that we will tell them just how incredible and meaningful their arrival to us was.  So this child sure will be extra special in our eyes.

As a teacher, do you think you have a different view point on adoption (seeing kids that grew up in bad homes, knowing that you’ve worked with kids exposed to drugs in the womb, and thinking ‘I could handle those challenges as a Mom’?

ABSOLUTELY!!!!  Being a teacher has opened my eyes to so many experiences for kids.  The good, the bad, the ugly.  I’ve wanted to take many of my former students home to help make things better for them.  That feeling has driven my passion for teaching.  I think that’s why I was able to embrace adoption so easily because I knew that I could love any child.  In fact, for the past 8 years since being in the same grade, I’ve come to love even 12 and 13 year olds in all of their finest, hormonal glory.  Attachment takes time, it takes work, but biology ain’t got nothing on my love for a kid. (Pardon the grammar but slang is fun and sometimes right to the point!) ;)  So yes, being a teacher sure made the switch to adoption a whole lot easier.  I think that I walk through this adoption path with a whole lot more confidence because of it.

I know we have gotten grief about adopting domestically instead of internationally, have you experienced anything similar?

No, I think most people are just happy for us that we feel hopeful again that our family is going to actually happen one day.  Some people have asked about ‘the kids in Africa’ but we’ve maintained that we need to choose a situation that we’re both comfortable with and one that we can afford.  Remember, I might be ‘the teacher’ who can see through every child right to their heart, but those who haven’t been exposed to children as much, take more time to get there.  To be honest, we also can’t even afford an ‘international’ adoption to the States…it’s more than twice as much as a domestic one.  We’ve really educated a lot of people about the difficult, emotional, and financial process/frustrations of adoption.  Most people don’t have a clue that it can be so costly.  And our friends and relatives are starting to realize that it’s not as easy as most people think.

Many of your readers (like me!) are in the United States.  I often wonder how adoption changes when you cross boarders.  Would you give a brief outline of what your process is and if you know any areas that are different from the processes in the US?

I’ll try to make this right to the point and provide as much as I can remember off the top of my head.  In British Columbia, Canada, adoption guidelines are:

·         all work for a newborn infant is to be completed through a private agency.  You pay them, and they arrange the homestudy, the education component, criminal record checks etc. One stop shop so to speak. The process from making your first payment to becoming ‘active waiting parents’ takes about 4 months.
·         The fees are approximately $20,000 for a local infant (typically we can only adopt from our own province), $40,000 and upward for an international adoption, not including flights etc. International includes the States for us.  The fees for all local adoptions, regardless of race, culture, special need etc, are all the same, province wide.  International adoption rates can vary depending on the country you are adopting from.
·         the birthmother has 30 days to change her mind, no questions asked…EEEK!  Not good for an RPL girl.  Our BIGGEST fear will be during those 30 days.
·         our agency ONLY does about 18 adoptions A YEAR
·         there are only 6 agencies in our entire province
·         upon homestudy approval, our 2 page profile goes into a binder.  The birthmother looks through the binder at various couples’ profiles, there are about 40 couples on average, in no particular order or classification, and she chooses the couple she’d like.  Then she looks at their big book/picture essay and makes it final.  There are no wait lists, no numbers, no priority.  Essentially…we could ‘wait’ forever if nobody picks us.
·         Open Adoptions are STRONGLY encouraged and supported
·         BC’s ‘Waiting Children’ are children who are in foster care or have been recently taken from their birth family because of abuse, drugs, alcohol, or other forms of neglect
·         Adopting a ‘waiting child’ is free.  Children are typically older, not newborns but can be infants to teens, and usually have some form of special need or need extra TLC because of the prenatal damage or neglect/abuse in the home
·         We’re excited to say, that we are now going to adopt both privately through an agency, and through the Ministry for one of BC’s Waiting Children.  It feels incredible to be able to reach out and provide love and stability to a child who REALLY needs us.  Win, win for all of us.

(and some non adoption ones just for fun!)
What is your favorite memory that you and Mike have made?

Ha!  You’re so cute.  Ok, well, we both think that it probably has to be our wedding in Cuba.  We were engaged and then decided to run away together and get married on the beach.  Cuba had horrendous hurricane-like weather, but the skies parted just before our ceremony.  It was incredible.  It was one of the last times that we were both so happy and hopeful as a couple. The world was our oyster!!! RPL sure did a lot of damage, but it can’t take away that moment.  We’re thinking the next one will be after our 30 days with our ‘forever baby’ in our arms.  Oh man, I can’t wait!

If you could travel anywhere with Mike, where would you go? What about a ‘girls’ only vacation with your best friends, where would you go?

Mike and I love to travel.  He’s been all over the world.  I’ve been to Europe, the States, and the Caribbean. But he’d like to take me to Egypt, Greece, and Italy.  Three places that I haven’t been, and where he absolutely loved.  We sure hope to do that together, one day.

Girlfriends???? I LOVE GIRLFRIENDS!!! Well it would have to be an all-inclusive trip to an exotic beach somewhere to suntan our butts off all day, drink umbrella drinks, and watch the cabana boys.  ;) Mind you, I did NYC with some gal pals and that was pretty fabulous too.  I could totally do that again.

So, it seems Seriously?! and I will be headed to the beach somewhere soon.... any of you want to join us!

xoxo friend, I love that you have shared this journey with me on our trip to Isaac, and CANNOT WAIT until we get to rejoice with you and your little one!


  1. I really enjoyed reading the interview!!! :) Great questions (and answers)!! :)

  2. Love your questions and love my girl Seriously?!

    I love that you both are RPL girls that got matched together.

  3. Thanks so much for all this! Really interesting. I did not know you were Canadian as well. :) We are maybe starting adoption thoughts, and it is nice to have a Cdn viewpoint (even if I am not in BC).

  4. I love that girl and the honesty that comes with her!! I have to say, the whole sex thing...ummmm yup and it sucks :( Darn IF!

  5. Thanks Jenn! This was fun!!! Yay team!!!