Tuesday, March 1, 2016

You Can Stop Telling Us That We Will Get Pregnant Now

I don't know how many times we've heard people say that we'll get pregnant now that we've adopted. They know someone or someone they know knows someone because it "happens all the time". It doesn't happen all of the time. In fact it only happens in less than 4% of couples who have adopted.
Our 1% chance of getting pregnant, that was given to us by our first IVF doctor because he didn't want to say zero, is officially 0% It doesn't really bother me when people tell me I'll get pregnant after adoption, but it leads to an awkward reply. Like that would be great (after Tucker) to oh no, I hope not (after Miles).
So now you don't have to say it, and I don't have to come up with a witty reply. I had a hysterectomy today. My endometriosis became too much, and I was putting off the inevitable by waiting. While we are completely satisfied with our family, and don't want to lose our man-to-man defense we have now, it still makes me sad. The finality of a hysterectomy, and knowing that it really is 100% impossible to get pregnant now. I knew I would never get pregnant and now I really know I'll never be pregnant. It's hard to explain being sad over the loss of fertility when I'm so happy with our boys, but just knowing that my fertility is really, forever gone feels like dealing with trying to accept it in the first place. I know this feeling won't last forever. My surgery was for the best and comes with some advantages. Thank you all for your love and support. Please forgive any grammatical errors. I'll blame the pain meds.
Adam putting my socks on for me before surgery. He's a great nurse!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The rest of our first adoption story...

It's time to share more of the details of our adoption story... the rest of the story of our first son's adoption. I doubt that I will be able to capture the true emotions of this experience in words, but I'm going to try. I typically keep my posts short. This one is going to be long, so be warned. To respect and protect the privacy of our birth family, and son I won't share every detail, but most of them.
March 2013 our 3rd and final failed IVF. April 2013 we chose our adoption facilitator, June we paid all of our fees and were technically "live" with them. However, our adoption profile was not complete until September of 2013, and that's what gets mailed to expectant mothers to chose from. We did a lot of things to pass the time during our wait. Wintertime was the toughest to get through, but we managed.
Late January we began talking to someone that was interested in potentially placing with us, which motivated us to start preparing the baby's room. We started with furniture, and a few small things that we felt we would need with a newborn. She ultimately chose another couple, which was painful, but OK. We just wanted her to do what was right for her, and to have peace with her decision. We still talk to her from time to time, and she and the baby she lovingly placed are doing well.
February 24, 2014, we got the call! An expectant mother in Rhode Island had chosen us and only us! She and her husband had two children and weren't able to financially take care of a third. At approximately 8 weeks pregnant, when they could've gone another route, they chose adoption and us!  When we matched, she was only 16 weeks pregnant, which meant we would be matched for 24 weeks. That is a very long time in the adoption world. She and I began texting almost daily getting to know each other. She would need help with living expenses, her husband was laid off, and she stayed at home with her other children. It is very common to assist the expectant mother with expenses during her pregnancy, but what isn't common is a TX/RI adoption. I called the adoption agency here in TX that did our home study to let them know the exciting news about our match. Let's just say they were more concerned than excited. We spent a lot of time praying about it, and we felt like God wouldn't have presented us with this match if we weren't supposed to move forward with it, so that's what we did.

The first step was trying to figure out how to handle the logistics of the adoption. Would we follow TX law or RI law? Sounds easy enough to figure out, but it took our two attorneys almost two weeks to figure it out. In the meantime we weren't able to begin helping the family out with expenses because it all has to go through an agency per TX law and an attorney per RI law... This was a challenging time because we wanted to help them, and they desperately needed it, but our hands were tied. If you know me, you know I'm a helper and fixer. It was extremely difficult for me to want to be able to help them as much as possible, but be slowed down by the legal process. We ultimately decided to go with Texas law because it was more favorable to us, legally. Once that was figured out, the help with living expenses started being taken care of by our TX adoption agency. Many people ask, so I'll tell you that the money is/was paid directly to the bill collectors, not the family. There were several times during the pregnancy where things came up requiring additional help, and we weren't able to send them any money or gift cards, but we could send them things that were donated. Thanks to all of you that helped by donating things. The generosity of others is such a humbling thing. This was extremely taxing on me emotionally. Coming from a background where I didn't always have the money to make ends meet, and personally knowing how scary that is, to then be in a position where I can and want to help, but I'm not allowed to was heart wrenching. I lost a lot of sleep and prayed many prayers over this throughout the 24 weeks. TX law required that she have a social worker assist her with making sure her needs were met, and she set her up with WIC, food banks, etc.

March 11, 2014 she had an 18 week ultrasound after which I got a text with a picture of the ultrasound that said Shelli, here is your baby boy! Melt my heart. She mailed us the physical pictures which is so nice to have. She's so sweet.
When we initially matched, the expectant mother felt it would be easier on her if she didn't meet us or see the baby. She initially changed her mind about meeting us, and later changed her mind about seeing the baby.
In July, our adoption facilitator called the hospital to let them know about her adoption plan. The hospital's policy didn't match with the expectant mother's desires. There was a small possibility that we wouldn't be able to see him until the paperwork was signed at 48 hours according to TX law. Then he would be given to the social worker for discharge where she would then give him to us outside of the hospital. Crazy, right? Did you just hear the roller coaster come crashing down? Well, after lots of tears, prayers, phone calls, and emails between our TX agency, RI social worker, RI attorney, and hospital risk management, they agreed to loosen up a bit. We still didn't know what we would and wouldn't be allowed to do while we were in the hospital. Talk about scary!!!
At the end of July we were reminded that our initial home study was about to expire and we had to update it ASAP, yikes. More paperwork, fingerprints, personal references, and another home visit.
Good news came at the very end of July. The hospital agreed to let us see him, we would most likely have to be with him in the hospital's nursery, but that's better than nothing.

On August 6th, two days before due date, the doctor decided to schedule an induction for Wednesday, 8/13 if he didn't come on his own before that. We decided to fly up together on Saturday so we would be close in case she went into labor. I lived in Maine for a couple years in elementary school, so I decided to take Adam up there to see it while we were in the area. It was a fun, last minute trip.
On Monday evening we went out to eat with the whole birth family. It was very exciting to finally meet all of them in person. They are really nice people and we had a good time. Wednesday morning we gave her a ride to the hospital. She and I hung out in her room waiting. They started her induction at 8:30, she got her epidural at 9:00, and her water was broken at 10:40. We chatted and watched TV. We rented a semi-scary movie, she loves scary movies, and I'm kind of too scared to watch them. LOL Her epidural needed to be increased a few times to cover some extra pain she was having. At around 4:00 she was 6 cm. At 4:30 she was feeling pressure, and was at 9cm. For some reason the doctor thought this was an appropriate time to go to her office across the street? She started feeling like it was time to push, she was feeling a lot of pain, but they wouldn't give her any more medicine through her epidural. The doctor finally came back and pushing started, then he was born about 8 minutes later at 1648. 
It moved really fast. She was in a severe amount of pain, and no words can describe watching someone go through that so YOU(I) can be a mother! I get emotional just thinking about it again. I prayed for her, I tried to help her; I did my best to coach her through it, and tell her how strong and amazing she was. She was crying, the doctor would look at me with such a sweet smile, and I would have to look away because it took all of my human strength to not cry. I wanted to be strong for her. I felt that if I cried, it wouldn't help her, and I wanted to do whatever I could for her. She is a hero to me.
Adam had been waiting in the waiting room, and he was able to go meet our son in the nursery while I stayed with her until she was feeling better. Then I went and joined my husband with our son! Words can't describe what that felt like. The best I can do is compare it to a dream.
This is where God's amazing presence really became real. The nurses and hospital staff were beyond amazing to us and to the expectant mother. It could not have gone any better. It was truly an awesome experience. Like I said, they not only took care of us, they took exceptional care of her. After the initial, albeit short-lived reaction of "how can she do that", the staff quickly figured out that we were very close to each other and that she was doing this out of love for her child! Such. Brave. Love!
We spent some more time with her before we all left the hospital on Friday. I gave her a ride home, and a big hug because I knew that was most likely the last time I would see her.

We left the hospital with him and went to the home of the daughter of a CRNA we worked with in St. Louis. Yep, we stayed with people we had never met, and it was amazing! They were great, and it was so nice to stay in a home and not a hotel! They felt more like old friends than strangers.
Friday night, big night for us. This is when she can legally sign the paperwork that legally places him for adoption. She's gonna sign, right? Of course she is, but we'll just be glad when she has? but, she's going to? 5:30, no word, 6:30, no word... 7pm attorney finally calls, they signed. The next day she texted me to say that she knew they were doing the best thing for him and that we were going to be great parents. She asked how he was doing and for some pictures of him.
Then on the following Saturday she started saying she was sad and they really missed him, it was harder than she thought. By now we are back at home and I am trying to navigate her feelings and the feelings of being a new mom whose husband is back at work so she is getting up with him around the clock and the house is getting messy everything feels out of control. She is making inappropriate posts and comments on Facebook, so I decided to tell her we couldn't be Facebook friends anymore. I was having to screen and think about everything I posted and what she would say about it, and how it would make her feel, and that just wasn't how I wanted it to be. This is just a small example of the ups and downs and unexpected emotions we faced. 

On labor day weekend it happened, she changed her mind and wanted him back. Of course she can't get him back. But knowing that she felt that way was heartbreaking. She was offered counseling several times throughout the process, but refused it each time. She decided to take a break from us for a while and we went about a week without talking. Then we were talking again more often, and she seemed to be doing much better. Most of the conversation was about Tucker and how he was doing with a few comments about how they were struggling or needed something, but didn't specifically ask for anything. She asked for a lot of things and help throughout her pregnancy. Her expenses were covered for six weeks post pregnancy and we were now past that point. 
It was almost Halloween time and I asked her what her children were going to be for Halloween to which she replied they couldn't afford costumes. I asked her what they wanted to be so I could send costumes. She told me what they wanted and then asked if I could send money for food. I said no, I'm not going to help you with living expenses any more, (I told her that before) but I would like to do nice things from time to time. She said she was angry about that, but that I could send the costumes. This led to her asking if I was going to send Christmas presents and of course I was. So she began to send me their entire Christmas list, and asked me if I could help them get more gifts through local resources as well as our church. We did what we could, and actually got them set up to get help from several resources. They opted not to follow through with most of them because it required a walk in the rain or a bus ride (they don't have a car) to pick up their free Thanksgiving meal. I did some creative shopping and was able to come up with several nice gifts for them on their wish lists. I mailed it on 12/7/14 so it would have plenty of time to make it there. Except it never made it there...  
This made both of us very upset. She said some mean and hurtful things out of pain, and I couldn't resend her the gifts. We had a heated discussion over my role and responsibility to them. I reached out to our TX adoption agency worker to help explain things to her as well. She again told her not to ask us for anything again and not to speak negatively. I felt it necessary to tell her that I wouldn't buy anything for her or her family again. Things were much better for a while. I did receive a few negative texts and texts hinting at asking for things, and I explained to her that those were examples of the kinds of texts she wasn't supposed to send anymore.
I sent her a picture of Tucker and his new teeth. This was the first time I sent her a picture without her asking for one. She replied telling me she was busy with her life and her kids. The next day, January 17th, she wanted me to send her something. I tried to ignore it, but she kept texting. I then reminded her that I told her I wasn't sending her anything again. She said she made a mistake choosing us. I then told her that I would no longer be talking to her and I would send letters and pictures through the TX adoption agency. I never wanted to close things off. It was a last resort way to deal with a toxic situation. 
Things stayed quiet. Miles was born. I mailed her pictures and a letter when Tucker was six months. Then on March 4th, when I was beginning to think that I had seen, heard, or experienced all things adoption I received an email. At 11:48 AM she emailed saying that things were tough with Tucker's biological brother and they were placing him for adoption... WHAT?!? Wow. That's about all it said. Did she want us to adopt him? Was she serious? Was her husband on board? Did we want to adopt him? Can we adopt him?
How would it work? Can we afford it? Talk about a shock! Yes, she wanted us to adopt him so he could be with his brother and she knew he would have a good home. Yes, she was serious. Yes, her husband was on board. Yes, we wanted to adopt him, and no, we didn't. It would work similar to a newborn adoption including an ICPC wait. No, we can't afford it, but we could make it happen. There would be no money for living assistance. That only applies to pregnancies. Oh wait; at 5pm they changed their minds. They will get him help... Whew. Wow, that was overwhelming.
March 11th we finalized Tucker's adoption!!! Yay, it's official, no more visits or reports from the social worker. We have a birth certificate and can apply for a social security card! Oh happy day. Well, it was actually a little anticlimactic. We got to the Dallas juvenile courthouse about 8am and waited for our turn. We were in front of the judge for all of 5 minutes while the attorney read some paperwork and we answered yes to some questions. The judge never even looked up at us. 

As mother's day approached I really wanted to open things back up with Tucker's birth mother. After all, she carried him for nine months, chose life, and chose us! I sent her a text, and things have been much better since then. One of the nice things about open adoption was being able to ask about family medical history when Tucker needed ear tubes. She did feel left out of his birthday celebration when I didn't mention them on his birthday chalkboard. I apologized and showed her the other ways I included them in the celebration. We talk about once or twice a week and she always tells me to tell Tucker how much they love him, and I love that! He will always know how much he is loved. 
With all that has happened with our two adoptions, you can probably understand why I have been so quiet on our blog. I don't know how you are going to react to the details of our story, but I have felt pulled to share it for a while now and it has taken me months to write it! It was a difficult experience that we handled the best and most loving way we could. Thanks for being part of our story. We love each other and our sons very much and couldn't imagine life any other way. 

So Worth It!