Sunday, February 25, 2007

Ongoing Baby Quest

I guess at this point in the story I should back up and fill in a few blanks, although the blanks won’t be apparent until later. And hopefully they won’t be apparent at all, if I just fill them in now. You know what I mean. I’m babbling already, aren’t I?

When Blaine got orders to Tinker, the Air Force Base in our hometown, we began our third year of TTC. As those of you who know me know, and those of you who don’t know me can probably guess, I am a control freak with a serious Need-To-Know character defect. Ignorance is not bliss, as far as I'm concerned. At this point the internet wasn’t a household item, and I had already read every book our local library had to offer. We knew if we wanted help in a social or emotional or informational capacity, from other couples going through the same thing, we were going to have to look for it in a live, face-to-face situation. So we searched out the local branch of Resolve, the National Fertility Association support group, and began attending meetings.

A couple of good things came out of this. First, we made friends with a great couple (if you’re reading this, S., “hey chickie!” :) who made walking that infertility path a lot easier, and a lot more fun. Not that it’s ever “fun”, but it was great to have another couple who had experienced the same struggles as us, and who could go out at the drop of a hat without having to hire a baby sitter, and without sitting around all night talking about their kids, and without sitting in front of us, breast feeding her child-yes-someone-actually-did-that-way-before-Blaine-and-I-were-enlightened-about-breastfeeding-and-we-freaked-out-and-totally-didn’t-know-where-to-look-and-oh-my-gosh-her-boob-is-RIGHT-THERE-so-we-just-pretended-like-it-wasn’t-happening-in-our-living-room-three-feet-from-our-shocked-faces. Seriously. Trust me, NO childless couple ever needs to see that. Ever. Second, we realized that while it was frustrating for us not to know WHY we weren’t getting pregnant, a lot of couples attending Resolve were facing the finality of knowing they would NEVER get pregnant, so maybe we should just quit our big fat whining and get over ourselves. Third, while Blaine and I had always been open to alternative ways of building our family, I think it helped us explore, and come to terms, with those ideas more quickly. I had cousins who had been adopted, and Blaine himself had been adopted by his step-dad when he was young. So we certainly weren’t hung up on the idea that children absolutely, positively, biologically, MUST spring from our own loins. But the other members attending Resolve at that time gave us a safe forum to explore and vent and learn, and I was grateful.

So, around the beginning of Infertility Year Four, after Blaine and I had our first negative IUI (insemination), we decided to apply with an adoption agency. Everyone said to us, “Oh, once you apply with an adoption agency, you’ll get pregnant. It always happens that way.” And we thought, “Wouldn’t that be great? Two babies! We should be so lucky”. Then, a few months later, we were down two negative IUI’s, and it was time to pay our adoption agency fee. And everyone said to us, “Oh, once you write that check, you’ll get pregnant. It always happens that way.” And we thought, “Oooh, yippee, two babies! We should be so lucky”. And then a month or two later, and yet another negative IUI under our belts, we received word that we had been approved by the adoption agency and our profile was available for viewing by birthmothers. And everyone said to us, “Oh, just wait. Now that you’re approved, you’ll get pregnant. It always happens that way.” And we would talk about how if that happened, we would be the luckiest people in the world. Surely, surely, one of these inseminations was going to work … and if we adopted a baby near the same time, it would be like having twins! We would be the luckiest people in the world … twice!

And by the end of that year? Six artificial inseminations, no pregnancy, and the adoption agency had gone out of business, taking our money and our hopes with them.

This is probably a pretty accurate estimation of when I entered my very unattractive “pissed at the world” phase.

OK, ok, so the adoption agency didn’t really, **technically** go out of business. But it might as well have. For the six months it took from the time we applied until we were approved, they were a fully-staffed, smooth-running operation, who, on average, prior to us applying, had placed approximately ten babies a year with waiting families. It was a smaller agency, nothing like Gladney out of Texas, but we liked that. Although there were certainly no guarantees, Blaine and I were led to believe it would take no more than year for us to get a baby, as well. We were guided through the process of filling out our applications, having our background and criminal histories run, getting friends to write us letters of reference, submitting photos of us, posed oh-so-perfectly in front of our fireplace with our pets, to submit along with a Dear Birthmother Letter that we agonized over writing. “Please, please, please, pick us to raise your baby, we don’t want to seem desperate and groveling, even though we are …..” We had our home study done, where a social worker comes to your home and interviews you to see if, in his or her opinion, the home life you would provide for a child is safe and loving.

And with every item we accomplished, with every checkmark we made on our Very Long List Of Adoption Stuff We Have to Complete, I got more and more bitter.

I’m not sure I can find the words to explain how deeply {probably irrationally} irritated I was that I had to submit myself to this sort of scrutiny … this judgment, this begging for approval, from total strangers, about whether or not Blaine and I would be deemed qualified to adopt and raise a baby. Certainly I understand the need for these sorts of criterion … DUH. But when everyone is looking at you, and the home you live in, and critiquing your job and your marriage and your education and your decisions and your LIFE, and passing judgment about whether or not you are ALLOWED to get a baby …. It was infuriating to me. Infuriating. No-one who is able to get pregnant the “normal” way has to ask anyone’s permission. None of the pregnant patients where I worked had to take time off from their jobs to sit through a three-day parenting seminar, attendance required. None of the pregnant girls I went to high school with had to pass a home study, inviting a total stranger into their home, and clean like a crazy, obsessed person for a week before, and bake fresh cookies to offer as refreshment which the woman DIDN’T EVEN EAT and sit back and answer her questions about how you would raise the baby, and what your plans are, and what your expectations are, and oh my God what do I say about spanking? What if I say no, we would never spank a child, and this woman assumes I am too lenient to be a qualified parent? But what if I say yes, I do believe in spanking, and she thinks that makes me a child abuser? The decisions we all make as parents are part of an ongoing learning process, and I wasn’t a parent, yet I was already being judged on how I would do it. None of my pregnant co-workers, or friends, or relatives, had to sit through an interview process, whereby someone who doesn’t even know you has the power to stamp “approved” or “NOT!” on your request to be a parent.

It. Made. Me. Crazy.

I abhorred it. And at the same time, as it became more and more obvious that the fertility route wasn’t working, adoption was quite possibly going to be our only avenue to becoming parents. Do you know how hard it is to despise a system, and resent everything you are required to do, and at the same time hold it up as the possible answer to your hopes and dreams?

Then, it pretty much became a moot point. This adoption agency that we applied with basically shut down after we were approved. They went from a fully-staffed agency, working out of a nice office suite, to a part-time social worker in a one-room office with an answering machine that she stopped in once a week to check. For the first year after we were approved, you know how many babies they placed with families?

Zero.

Three years of temperature charts and bloodwork and ultrasounds and putting pillows under my butt after sex and fertility drugs and hot flashes and mood swings. Nothing to show for it.

A year of artificial reproductive technology. Big Fat Nothing to show for it.

A year of jumping through hoops to get approved for adoption, and waiting on their approved list. Bigger Fatter Nothing to show for it.

Yeah, my “pissed at the world” phase had officially begun. Really, really, unattractive. Almost as unattractive as ………. Oh, who am I kidding? It was the most unattractive phase yet. And can you believe it’s not the lowest point we would reach?

20 comments:

Amy said...

Oh wow, Christie. You made my heart hurt reading that post! I'm so glad that you ended up with 3 gorgeous children!! And then, became a surrogate to boot! You are an awesome woman!!! Can't wait to read the rest of the story.

Hugs!
Amy
www.caringbridge.org/visit/gerryheidt

Amy said...

Yeah, I'm a big fat loser...I spelled your name like my real life friend Christie! Sorry!!!!!!!

kim said...

OH.MY.GOD. It gets worse? You said it gets worse, huh? My heart is hurting right along with Amy's. Not that I ever questioned it, but now I am starting to see exactly why you became a surrogate. And Blaine has the same adoption situation as me--HIGH FIVE! :). Now I am on the edge of the edge of my seat. I'm glad I know there's Brayden, Kellen and Kendrie...they keep this from being completely and totally heartbreaking. WHEW...emotional! Thank you so much for telling this; I just know something good is going to result for somebody, somewhere. To that person/those people, YOU WILL ROCK! You know you already do, to me! Hurry back with the next installment....not to be too bossy..

Leeann said...

You know, you are absolutely right about how the process you have to go through to adopt a child is. I've had the luxury to never need to think about it, but it's true. I'm not sure what you could really take out of the process but I totally see your point. It would make me nuts too!

Niki said...

Kristie, you have put into words the exact emotions I have been through over and over again over the years. I had no idea you had been through infertility yourself. No wonder you're such a giving woman. You completely understand the strong desire for children and the unfairness of not being able to fulfill that desire on your own. I'm looking forward to reading more.

Shannon said...

Your description of the adoption process rings true. A co-worker of mine went through this process with an out-of-country adoption only to have the birth mother disappear, the child declared abandoned, and essentially had to start over...after she had pictures with her now named daughter hanging on her classroom wall. Walking away from a child she thought because of an agency and start over...heartbreaking! I appreciate your honesty about all your journeys..

amy said...

Oh my friend, you dont know me but I am a nurse at SR on the first floor. I was Caties first nurse at SR and I so wanted to say hello to you at the funeral. I went with several hem/onc nurses and a most amazing surreal day. We are suffering from infertility. I am the last person at CHOA to get pregnant, I swear. We are presently working on adopting from China. The adoption blog is at www.thechristopherfamily.blogspot.com

SO sorry this is so long but I have waited to post and I have been reading your blog for over a year now! Thanks for the laughs, tears and life lessons!@

amy (not the same one who posted first on this)

Erin said...

I am so glad to know that somewhere along the way three beautiful and loving children came to you. What little blessings Brayden,Kellen, and Kendrie really are.. although this was a very emotional post you just shared.

(If this just happens to not make any sense its because I have a SNOW DAY and I was just woken up by the jolly teacher before my name)

Tracy said...

Kristie, I as read your story about Brayden's adoption, I think there are so many couples out there that you could help just with your words. I remember starting the infertility process and being so scared. Luckly, things worked out for me...but that is not the norm. I hope people ttc and having problems find your blog.

I can't wait to read the rest. As one poster said I am so glad that I know you have 3 beautiful babies. It helps as I read your story.

Kristin Hicks said...

Wow. That's all I can say. WOW. I was so blessed that I was able to get pregnant. It took a while, and several procedures, but it happened. Your story is heartbreaking. It alway kills me to see loving people who can't get pregnant while people in the world who don't even WANT children can do so in the drop of a hat.

WOW.

Kristin in NC

LIBSMOM said...

Ok, my butt is numb from sitting on the edge of my seat.....GET ON WITH THE STORY ALREADY!!! LOL I want, I NEED the happy ending I know is coming!!

Sam Gleason said...

I think that everyone who gets pregnant should have to go through the home inspections. The background check.....and so on. That was the most nerve wracking ordeal!! And to think we had to pay them 1500.00 for that!!! We also had to get the fire marshall to inspect too.

It seemed like everyone we knew, ran into, or just met was pregnant! I was pissed at the world, and everyone in it! My husband would tell you that I had a little attitude problem! But then again, he wasn't the one who was full of hormones!

Thanks again for making me laugh at myself!

Sam Gleason

Anonymous said...

We still have a copy of our Dear Birthmother letter! You and Blaine were definately the best thing to come out of Resolve and unnamed adoption agency (see lawsuit for more information on gag order)! Lots of hugs to you all and looking forward to more pancakes with you and the kids on your next visit!!

Love,
Stacey

Anonymous said...

Hi Kristie, we didn't mind the homestudy stuff so much, but a good friend of mine almost had her planned adoption derailed when the criminal background check showed her DH had a drug bust in his feckless youth. He somehow thought she wouldn't find out. Everything worked out, and now our Chinese daughters are great friends.
Kinda OT: since my DS (not adopted; I can get pregnant, just can't seem to stay that way) is about to be 10, any more suggestions for chores to implement? Since DS kept waking DD up at 6 in the morning the entire week of February break, I have given him the honor of waking her up every day for school. I'm sure your readers have some creative things for 10 year olds to do!
warmly,
Debbie E.
Peachtree City
2nd try reading the word verification! trying for a 3rd time...

katy said...

I click on this site 10 times a day waiting on the next installment. This is kind of like a soap opera and I am waiting on your evil twin to come in and try to steal your husband or dog or something. Well except for the laundry thing, people in soap operas don't have to do laundry, or shower (unless its with some 18 year old hunk) or put on makeup or feed their children.....I guess you can tell I don't watch soap operas.

kim said...

Okay, showing my computer ignorance here--will somebody please be kind enough to tell me...what is a DH, DS, DD, etc.? I see these abbreviations all over the blog world and I don't have a clue what they stand for. Because I do have enough brain to figure out they are family members, but that's as far as it goes....DUH. Please help the old out-of-touch person :).

Kristie said...

Kim, it stands for Darling Son, Darling Daughter, and Darling Husband. Or, if he's recently done something to annoy you, Damn Husband. :)

HTH!
(PS. That stands for Hope That Helps) ha!
Kristie

Anonymous said...

Your story is as good as Grey's Anatomy!! I can't wait for the next episode. My heart breaks as I read, knowing everything you went through with Kendrie, wow!! I really am speechless, and definately don't have your way with words.
Jean

Anonymous said...

Oh wow, I find this story so sad..even though I know it doesn't end up that way in the end.
What a wonderful role model for your kids.
You deserve all the chocolate in the world...and DDP too.
Janice

kim said...

Kristie--Since I just left today's comment, I bopped over here to see if anybody answered my question.

You didn't disappoint! I knew I could count on you, DF. Which means "Dear Friend", which I truly mean even though we don't know each other :). Really, thanks--I've been seeing those abbreviations all over the blogs and it was driving me nuts, not knowing. Virgo, ya know! :)