My Not News

The adoption process moves very slowly. The wait seems like forever, especially because the wait to have a child started way before the adoption process ever began.

Here’s my sort-of-not-really news.  We’ve moved up on the list.  In December of 2012 we were #25.  By July 2013, we had moved up to #12.  Now, in March of 2014 we are #6 on the list.  That’s my news.  Being a Special Needs adoption, the list isn’t as straight forward as a regular list.  For example, if there is something on our “would consider” medical need list that comes up before someone ahead of us, we could jump the queue. The woman at the agency (the sweetest woman in the world) told me that there are two people on the list above us who have specified “girl only”.  If by some miracle more boys come up, that means we’re actually #4 on the list.

Hearing the single digit numbers got me excited.  Things are moving. There is hope. The conversation with the agency brought me to tears.  I can do this!  But then reality set in.

Optimistically speaking (I’m trying to be optimistic), the soonest we would be matched would be August or September.  That is two full years after starting the adoption process.  There is also a chance that we could wait another year before being matched. The long wait also means having to renew our home study, re-do our police, medical and financial checks and re-submit our updated application to Vietnam.

I’ve also just learned that the time from match to travel can be from 6-12 months.  This broke my heart.  Even if we get our optimistic September match it could feasibly be the following September by the time we meet our child.  I’ll still need to get through at least another Christmas, school year, couple of birthdays, Mother’s Days, friends having more babies. There goes my optimism.  It’s just so much time.

For all of those positive thinkers out there, I need you.  I need your pep talks, your encouragement, your reminders that I CAN do this and that it will be worth it, your positives vibes to match me with a boy so that I can move up the list, your hope that it won’t take so long.

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A Week of Tears

So many tears this week.  All for different reasons.  Here is my pity party list – I need to get it out of my system!

1. Tears of Joy Quickly Turn Into Grieving the Loss of Having Biological Children

I learned recently that the younger brother of a former student (and now family friend) has been diagnosed with a form of Leukemia.  It broke my heart to learn this and a community of support has been created for the little fella.  The boy needs a bone marrow transplant and last week they found a match!  Even more exciting is that the match is his older brother (my former student).  I was so relieved that I cried.  Then I cried some more.  Then I cried because I realized that through adoption I’ll very likely only have one child (if I’m lucky enough to even get one).  No sibling for support and definitely no genetic match.  I know this is such a stretch, but for some reason this is where my mind went.  I guess that’s just a symptom of living with infertility and pregnancy loss.  I never know what’s going to set me off.

2. The Birthday Party

On Saturday night the plan was to go out with a group of friends for a friend’s birthday drinks. Most of these friends are single gay men. It’s safe to say that a typical night out with these guys means freedom from the world of babies and family life.  I put on a cute dress, loaded on the mascara (something I don’t do when potential crying is on the schedule) and headed out with my hubbie to meet them.  We got to the restaurant and ordered the first round of drinks. A few sips in, my evening changed.  My friend and her husband came in with their 7 week old baby.  I think I broke some kind of world record for fastest downing of a dirty martini.  It took everything in my power not to cry or run away.  Instead I went pale and started to shake.  My friend was very kind and carful when she saw me. I’m lucky for that.  She suffered a significant loss a year ago and understands my pain.  She parked the baby at the other end of the table with her husband and talked to me about non baby stuff.  I thank her for that.  It was still hard though.  There was a lot of baby talk. “She has your hair”, “she has your eyes” (more grieving of my bio child – these comments sting). There was at the table breastfeeding (something else to let go of). There was “you look so amazing, I can’t believe you had a baby 7 weeks ago” (I’m still so bloated that I  look like I’m pregnant). It was a rough night and my only escape was to drink too much.  Thanks to all the drinks, Sunday was a rough day too!

3. Seriously????? It’s MY turn!!!! 

While nursing a hangover (something I haven’t experienced for YEARS), I got a message from my aunt.  My younger cousin is pregnant again.  All pregnancy announcements are painful right now (and maybe forever), but this one hurt even worse.  My cousin (who I used to be very close with) was pregnant with her first when I was pregnant the first time.  Our babies would have been a few months apart.  I still have a little onesie that she gave me in a box in the basement.  We were so excited to be having babies together.   I lost my baby the weekend of her shower.  Ouch.  Hearing that she is pregnant again only added to my “what if” list.  Would I be having my second baby now? Would we be starting the adoption process for our second?   What makes it worse (for her and me) is that she’s not even with her husband anymore. He’s returned , on her request after years of fighting to his country of origin and isn’t expected to return. This just goes back to the stork distribution problem. Why can’t I have a baby when I’m SO ready while other people can get pregnant when it’s unplanned and not the right time in their lives? I no the answer is “there’s no reason”.  It still stings though.  When I got the news I cried.  No, I sobbed.  I went up to my bed and sobbed for hours. I couldn’t stop, I couldn’t be consoled.  This news coming the day after seeing another baby was too much for me.  I was mourning my first baby all over again. It all came right back up the front. All the pain, all of the losses, all of the disappointments.  I’m sure I cried because I needed to.  I’m so tired of crying. When will this hurt less?

A Look Back and a Plan for the New Year

The last few years have been very difficult. Holidays like Christmas, New Year’s Eve, birthdays, Mother’s Day even Halloween always remind me of all that I have lost.  For years now I have suffered through “the worst Christmas ever”, only to have it trumped the following year.  On New Year’s Eves I have put the pain of the previous year behind  looking forward to a “fresh start” only to face another difficult series of events.

Christmas was hard.  It’s impossible not to think about what might have been, what Christmas in my home SHOULD be like, the celebrations that are happening  in the homes of my friends and their new families and where we could have gone on vacation if we hadn’t have spent our money on a failed IVF.  I got through it.  There were tears, arguments with my husband and loneliness but I got through it.

I got through New Year’s Eve too.  I thought a lot about last year’s New Year’s Eve reflection.   I knew last year that 2013 wasn’t going to be a good one.  I wasn’t being pessimistic, I was being realistic.  This year is a little different.  This year there is actually a chance.   Not a guarantee, but at least a chance.

My husband and I were approved for adoption over a year ago.  The original estimated wait time was 18 months.  The numbers have gone up and down since then, but it does mean that REALISTICALLY, we could be matched with our child this year.

As frustrating as the fertility treatment fails were, I’m glad that I did them.  I can say with confidence that I tried “all the ways“.  It doesn’t mean that I’m not mourning the loss of that potential biological child, but it does mean that I need to shift my focus towards the adoption.

Unlike fertility treatments, focusing on adoption alone feels much less productive.  There are no calendars or early morning appointments.  I had to consider what “focusing on adoption” meant to me.    I think it’s going to mean the following:

  • getting into shape to prepare to run after a potentially terrified running toddler (I’ve heard stories about this from other adoptive parents)
  • taking care of myself, continuing acupuncture and mourning my losses so that I’m ready to be a happy parent
  • continuing and possibly increasing my involvement with the adoption agency. ( I currently write for the newsletter)
  • saving money so if I get my referral the trip to Vietnam and time off work won’t put me into enormous debt.

That’s a start. If the adoption doesn’t go through this year, none of those actions will be a waste. They’re all positive things.

My husband wants me to start considering that our life may not include children.  I’m not ready to think about that.  For now I have to assume that I will have a child. I just “can’t choose when“.

 

 

The Other New Year’s Eve

I’ve been a very quiet blogger this summer.  I took a break from everything. I was off work.  I didn’t take any courses.  I didn’t see any doctors.  I didn’t make any decisions.

It’s been a good summer.  My husband by some miracle of timing (his industry is usually busiest in the summer) had time off as well.  We have spent a LOT of time together. We really needed it.  We needed down time.  We needed time just to “be”.

I’ll be doing some catch-up blogs to fill in those summer gaps.  My head is bursting with ideas and things that I need to write about, but it didn’t seem right to lock myself away in a room and type about sad things when I could be in a room with my hubbie getting cuddles or out enjoying the sun.

I’ve stuck to my “get healthy and exercise” plan.  I’ve lost a total of ZERO pounds, but I’m looking significantly “less pregnant” and my fitness level is back to that of a non-slug.  The “less pregnant” part is important to me.  So many people know I’m trying to have a baby so when my tummy gets to bloated I start getting those belly looks (one eyebrow up…I wonder if she’s… – nope just hormones and fat).

Labour day weekend starts tomorrow.  Right after that is back to school.  My summer of bliss is over.  For a teacher, back to school is the “other” New Year’s Eve.

This year marks the third “back to school” since my first miscarriage.  I barely made it through the first one.  My first loss was in August.  I’d had the whole year planned, I knew when I would be taking my maternity leave.  I knew when I would announce my pregnancy to the parents.  I knew which reports I would write and which ones I would pass on to the replacement teacher.  That’s the problem with teachers. We’re planners.

The second “back to school”, a few months after my third loss was also tough.  I resented being there.   I felt like I should have been off that year taking care of my baby (number one OR number two).  At the very least I should have still been pregnant with my third and planning a mid-year departure.  I never would have imagined that I would go that whole school year without even getting pregnant again.

Now I’m at the third “back to school”.  I’m not pregnant.  I haven’t been pregnant for over a year. I haven’t gotten a portfolio in the mail telling me that the adoption agency has found a match for us and that we’ll be travelling soon to pick up the squirt.

Nothing.  This is tough on a planner.

I’m also facing other back to school dread.  Two friends on staff are pregnant.  They’re not the big pregnant ready to leave any day.  They’re both just pregnant enough that I’ll be watching their bellies grow.  I’m dreading the next “batch” as well.   All of the young crew who weren’t ready to start a family yet when I first started my struggles are now happily settled in and will likely start reproducing soon.  Again, sometimes I wish I worked in construction!

So happy other new year to me.  I really hope this is my year. Sorry new crop of students, but I hope I get to leave you early this year.

(this is NOT me)

(this is NOT me)

Not quite a decision….

We’ve been sitting on our “news” for a couple of days. We haven’t talked about it much. I think the hubby is all talked out for the moment.
I contacted the adoption agency. We have moved from number 25 on the list to number 12. This is a big jump. I had been feeling negative, thinking that there hasn’t been much movement. The Special Needs program doesn’t follow a list the way the mainstream program does, but it does mean that people have brought their children home and that we are closer to ours. The rough estimate our contact gave us was another 6-12 months. This seems like forever to broken hearted me, but I know it’s not. The director of the agency is in Vietnam right now meeting children and will be making more matches when she returns in late July. That will be decision time for us. When she returns, we’ll have a better idea as to a timeline and the needs of the children that are presently waiting for families. Maybe we’ll even be matched (not holding my breath on this round).
IVF is still not off the table. I have this sting feeling that I need to try EVERYTHING before I “give up”. Once we have a better idea as to what’s going on with the adoption we will talk about it again.
In the mean time, the best thing I can do for myself (and my sanity) is to take care of myself. I have a month to eat well , exercise (something I’ve been too scared to do for fear of shaking a potential baby out of my body), be off of crazy hormone meds. This will (hopefully) help me start to feel like myself again. If we go ahead with IVF my body will be better ready. If the adoption is first, I’ll be ready to run after a toddler.
This is all I’ve got for now.

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How long???

I participate in an online discussion group that connects waiting parents from the same agency and the same program.  We are all waiting for Special Needs children from Vietnam.

Over the past year, there has been very little movement.  Only one or two adoptions have gone through (that I’m aware of).  There is much discussion about the changing political climate and the eventual demise of international adoption.

Recently one of the waiting moms got a referral.  When I read the subject line, I was so excited.  Things are moving again!  Then, as I read on, my heart sank.

This woman has been waiting for six years.  SIX YEARS!!!!!!!!

She was originally on a list to adopt a baby through the “mainstream” program (not Special Needs).  That list was simply not moving so switched to the Special Needs program.

The child that was referred to her is a five year-old girl.  This breaks my heart.  This woman has been waiting 6 years, for a child that’s been there almost the whole time.  It makes me so sad that the child has had to wait this long for a family.  It makes me sad that the mother has had to wait to long to meet her.  This referral story, which should have been inspiring, is so discouraging.

It hurts to think that my child is already “out there” waiting.  It hurts to think that I could theoretically have five more years to wait.

I need to remind myself that Special Needs lists do tend to move faster.  These lists don’t move in numerical order necessarily, but rather by match to the prospective parent.

I’m so glad that mom finally got her match.  I can’t imagine another five years without my family.   Patience and hope. You can’t choose when.

My Mother’s Day Gift to Myself: Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-sSeXv9QDAPQ/UVxS6yMwuhI/AAAAAAAAFXc/CJdrF9ZnnMM/s1600/VARDALOS_InstantMom_HC.JPGAdmittedly, I steered clear of this book when I first heard about it.  Books with “Mom” in the title simply don’t appeal to me right now.

I started hearing little bits and bobs about the book in the media and downloaded it to my iPad.  The preview of the book sat on my “bookshelf” for a while.  I still wasn’t sure that I could read a “Mom” book.

Mother’s day weekend came.  I was feeling really down and felt like I needed to acknowledge the day.  I knew I wasn’t going to get brunch, flowers or a card so I had to do something for myself.  I bought myself the book.  It was empowering.  It made me feel proactive rather than mopey.

I started reading and I could not put it down.

Within 20 pages I was sobbing and laughing (simultaneously – a very attractive look).  I immediately contacted friends and created an impromptu book club.  This book not only needs to be read, it also needs to be shared and talked about.  I shared it with one friend who has struggled with infertility and is now a mom through adoption of the cutest curliest haired girl I’ve ever seen.  The other friend is one of my closest friends and the sister of Lil Curly’s mom.

I fell in love with this book because it was so relatable.  The first half of the book follows Nia Vardalos’ personal struggles with infertility. Being a comedy writer (My Big Fat Greek Wedding), she is able to share stories about infertility, IVF, multiple miscarriages and surrogacy painful but still able to laugh  – much the way I try to approach my own life and my blog.  There is so much sadness in my life right now, I have to find some things to laugh at and I have to find the joy.  Nia’s (yes, we’re on a first name basis) voice was so refreshing.  I described it my friend (when I told her she had to read the book)  “this lady is our people”.  My friend agreed whole-heartedly.

Nia’s stories about infertility brought me to tears (and still do upon re-reading).  It really felt as if my own feelings were being articulated through someone else’s words.

One of my favourite scenes was her description of a Mother’s Day party.  Being Mother’s Day when I read it made it even more significant.  She describes Mother’s Day as “the worst day of the year”.  At the party she gets all of the dreaded questions including the classic, “When are you due?”  (WHY?? WHY do they ALWAYS ask that???)

Reading this passage, similar to the way I feel when reading other blogs, I no longer felt alone.  Someone out there gets it and is sharing her story very publically.

After years of struggling, the story moves on to Nia’s decision to adopt.  She and her husband (who sounds like an amazing husband by the way) considered and tried different avenues including private adoption and international adoption and finally came to the conclusion that foster adopt was the best route for their family.

The second half of the book, which focuses on the adoption and first few years with their daughter were much harder for me to read.  I feel so far removed from my “happy ending” right now that it’s hard for me to go there.   It comforted me that Nia acknowledged this feeling in the book,

“I could here a hundred fantastic adoption stories in a row and then be stopped in my tracks by a negative one”.

I kept reading and was very glad that I did.  Nia’s story is so honest.  She describes the process from the Home Study to the adoption ceremony.  Her daughter was adopted as a toddler and with that came the struggle to attach and to adapt to a new life (and to sleep).  The way that Nia approaches these challenges is heart warming.   She parents the way I dream of parenting one day.  She reminded me that when I do get my family that my wounds will begin to heal. More laughter, more tears, more hope.

Thank you Nia Vardalos for sharing your story.  Thank you for telling all of our stories.

*Here are the book club questions that we discussed (through sobs and giggles).  If you read the book, feel free to join in the conversation!

  • Which part of the book did you relate to the most?
  • What unique challenges Nia Vardalos face as a celebrity exploring adoption?
  • What were your favourite Canadian moments in the book?
  • What surprised you the most?
  • What made you sob?
  • Favorite quote from book.