Monday, March 24, 2008

Owning Our Own Infertility

First generation born in North America and I was living the dream my parents had for me. I had finished university, had started a very successful career and at the ripe old age of 29 found the man I hoped to spend the rest of my life with.

After just a few short years of marriage, we decided to try and conceive as we were not getting any younger. We wanted to have children to share our lives with. We had fun trying for about 2 years, but then we began to worry something was wrong because we had not conceived.

We visited doctor after doctor with no results. Of course they all quoted the figure that 20% of all couples that can not conceive are unexplained. Two different specialists asked if we knew how babies were made. I was shocked that they would ask such a stupid question. How could I NOT know? Give me a break…..I’ve had sex education for 8 years in elementary, junior high and then high school. Dogs, cats, and it seemed that every other high school teenager could conceive, but we couldn’t seem to accomplish something as natural as getting pregnant. What was wrong?

We decided to continue with fertility drug after fertility drug all with no positive results. We decided to try treatment after treatment again with no positive results. We decided to stop with all the drugs and treatments just prior to our first in vitro fertilization. Somehow society always made me feel that I was at fault. In my mind, the Doctors’ eyes month after month looked at me with pity. We decided that we wanted a family. It did not matter that any children that we would have would have our DNA.

After 7 years of attempting to conceive, the fun was gone. It was a job and we were doing a poor job. We investigated adoption: private, foster care, children’s aid, etc. In short, the cost was too high: approximately $40,000 for private adoption; with foster care, we’d have to give up children that we had grown to love; we may not be chosen by a birth mother for whatever reason; the wait was approximately 10 years for an infant, and that was too long at the age of 36.

We decided to investigate international adoption, but heard so many corruption stories that we were worried. On researching China adoptions, we believed that we had found the best system. The children were apparently healthy. The children were loved and appeared to be well cared for. Every indication was that there was little to no corruption. The cost did not seem too unreasonable meaning that it didn’t appear that we were “buying” a baby, but paying for services rendered.

For the very first time in our marriage when we talked about children or having a family, the answers or results were not negative. We had to jump through hoops. We had to answer very private questions from people who were not medical professionals. We had to have our lives inspected from the inside out with a microscope, BUT we did it with pleasure because each step successfully completed brought us closer to our goal of having our family. We were finally having positive results.

We contacted our Chinese adoption agency (facilitator) and got all the paperwork completed for China. Twelve months after our dossier was logged into the China Center of Adoption Affairs, we received the referral of our first daughter. She was everything we could have wished for and still is to this very day. She was ours! We had “earned” the right to finally parent this child. Nobody could take this miracle from us!

We were so happy with our first daughter and our experience as parents we decided to adopt again from China. This time the wait became much longer all of a sudden, and waiting adoptive parents were getting more and more frustrated and angry because there were no answers or explanations and the answers given did not seem to coincide with what we witnessed on our first trip to China. We were frustrated, but not like so many that would be first-time parents. I heard and read many angry words from these waiting parents.

One personal friend shared the following with me, "I was really wondering if we really needed to add to our family after our first adoption, because everything is so perfect now and I didn't know if a new child would ruin that. Now that I know there are more restrictions, that I wouldn't qualify any longer, and that the wait is artificially slowing down, I want my baby more than ever." I was shocked by the statement, by the attitude, and by the sense of entitlement.

One thing that I suddenly realized was that NO ONE owed us. We did not finally “earn” the right to be parents. It was no one’s responsibility to solve our infertility problems. We had taken the responsibility to take the fertility drugs and take the various treatments to solve our fertility issues. Our infertility was ours, and no one had to solve our infertility because we were the ones that owned it. We could take whatever other steps to solve our infertility, but we own every aspect of our infertility.

Wow! What a revelation to me! After so much disappointment in our attempts to have a family, I realized that I had no right to be mad, frustrated, angry, etc., because NO ONE owed us a child! We were blessed to share our lives with a child, if and when it happened.

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