Thursday, April 30, 2009

poll on the worst things people say!

Hi bloggers!
I made a poll about the most irritating / annoying / upsetting things people say to us because we are IF / TTC/ experiencing loss. etc.
Vote and then tell me here if you have any other priceless ones!
Gotta pass the time between appointments / two week wait / paying credit card bills!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Happy go eggie!

I am ecstatic to finally have some good news on the whole baby / adoption / egg front!!!
I called my RE's office to schedule a consult to find out the whole egg donor process and find out how much it would cost and the good news is that everything but the agency egg donor fee ( I know - it's still about $12,000 - $14,000 but in this business that is good news!) sperm and co-pays up to $500 is covered by my insurance. It's the blessing of living in good old Illinois where they have great laws covering fertility treatment and having great insurance ( which is kind of a lucky accident for me). We could do a cycle and produce a whole load of embies and still have left-overs for next time ( I know - I am dreaming in a very grandiose way! )
So I have a consult on Friday morning. I could actually go to my old clinic which has the donor sperm there and is much closer, but I will have to think about that. I really like the new guy but it's at a BBBF ( Big Baby Business Factory!) down-town.
I am going to go straight home and start taking pre-natal vitamins again! Off with the coffee and the booze!
I know that I am extremely lucky to a. live in illinois and b. have great insurance c. have a wonderful honey who supports me 100% and I know that I am blessed someway and somehow. I know that is a speech but I feel like I just won an Oscar!!!
Happy end of ICLW week to everyone!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

adoption agency #2 part 2

Update: Unfortunately I never made it to adoption agency #3 today. I was so beat and feeling so icky last night that I went to bed at 7pm and stayed there till about 10am today. So I missed the last of my scheduled adoption investigation appointments. I am going to sign up for the next one as well as scheduling an appointment at the Big Business Baby Factory to talk about my options with egg and embryo donation. Then I will flip a coin to decide....Just kidding!
But here is my review of adoption agency #2 part 2
This was my visit to the actual agency. My previous experience had been a talk at the Big Baby Business Factory and featured a speaker from the agency Ruby aka funny and flippant who gave us an overview of adoption 101.
I was reluctant to go; it was a weekday evening, I thought I knew all there was to know about adoption and it meant giving up my prime parking spot to go out and come back later in the evening when all the parking on my street is gone. This agency is actually in my neighborhood – I know - I am so lucky to be living in the big city. I have driven past it many times and only half realized that the cheerful mural on one of their outside walls is connected to an adoption agency. Inside it is a brightly painted old building that has had something of a renovation. The bathrooms are cheerful, the walls are fun colors, there is new hardwood flooring and nice wainscotting.
I was welcomed by miss fun and feisty and I introduced myself again. She remembered my face. The long narrow conference room was lined with three tight rows of chairs on one wall facing a white board and a couple of chairs for the speakers. It turned out there was one speaker and he was the ED of the agency. The room was full of couples who all looked pretty straight-laced and ordinary. They were all talking to their respective spouses and did not emit any airs or wafts of friendliness in my direction. As the talk started the latecomers started arriving and by the end of the first half hour we were really crammed in there.
I am so glad I did go to this talk though. I learnt such a lot. The ED – Richard, is one of the founding members of the agency and he and the people who started it (all of them members of the adoption triad ) did so because they were dissatisfied with the adoption agencies that they saw around them and the experiences that they had had. The birth moms felt that they had been treated like s.hit; the adoptive parents had been psycho-analyzed into delirium and the adoptees (I don’t think that is the pc word, is it?) felt lied to and cheated of an understanding of a very important part of their life.
He made a distinction between agencies that say they are not for profit and ones that really are charities. I am not sure if it’s just true of Illinois, but he said that to be an adoption agency you have to be a charity with a 501 c3 status. Along with the fees that they charge, they still need to raise about $400,000 per year to keep afloat.
His intent was not to paint a rosy picture of adoption for us. Not to make a Hallmark movie of it, but to tell us how it is. His message was that working towards an adoption is a roller coaster ride and you have to be ready to get on again after dusting yourself off and try again and again. He also stressed that adoption was not a finite act, but a continuum that lasted all through the adopted child’s life and included all parts of the adoption triad.
He told us that as a child welfare agency it is their job to find good homes for children. It’s not a place where we can go and pay lots of money to “get” a baby. He can’t guarantee any of us a baby. He can offer us the tools to be give us the best chances possible to be picked by a birth mother or to go out and find a birth mother ourselves. According to him, no agency can guarantee anyone a child, it doesn’t matter how much money adoptive parents are willing to pay.
This agency has a set fee scale. The first $3,000 is for the home study, the next $3,000 is for helping with the photo album and foster parent license ( I am going from memory). After that the fees vary from $13,000 to $27,000 total ( including the first $6,000) for a traditional adoption ( i.e. the birth mother comes to the agency and based on her criteria picks the adoptive parents.) If you want to go out and find your own birth mother after the first one or two stages then you pay only a smallish fee to have an "agency assisted" adoption. In an agency adoption, this agency pays the birth mother’s costs – the only other out of pocket costs to the adoptive parents are lawyers fees. You only pay the placement fee ( which is the largest part of the cost) after placement, so it does take away some of the risk of getting to that point and paying the birth mom’s expenses and then the placement not working out and you are out that money too.
The thing I liked about this agency was that they were very open about not trying to win our business. He really wanted us to know what adoption was like, what their philosophy meant and where they were coming from. They don’t advocate one kind of adoption, because there is no one size fits all. So they don’t say: we only believe in open adoption – they say they want the birth parents and the adoptive parents to be in charge of their own lives and to work out what works best for them.
So what are the odds? He said that adoption is enduring a difficult time right now. There are less birth moms placing infants for adoption, in part because of contraception, the morning after pill, more acceptance in families of “unplanned” pregnancies, abortion, etc. Also many people who were doing international adoption are now moving to domestic adoption. I asked him what the odds were – I have to know odds – it comes from the infertility experience I think.
He said that if you are not super picky then the odds are around 60% of getting a placement if you just wait for the agency to do the work of finding a birth mom who wants to place with you. If you amp up the publicity and find creative ways to get your message across to the most people your odds increase to 85%.
I sat there comparing those odds with egg donation ( about 60%) and embryo donation ( about 25%). Hmmm.
He offered for us to have a short one on one with the assistant director ( miss fun and feisty) or himself whenever it was convenient. They must be awfully busy is all I can say.
And then it was over, anti-climactically. Unfortunately there was no parking lot bargaining for eggs and uteri. This being the city it was parking meters, no parking lot.
I am still mulling it over. I talked to S. about it and she is mulling too, in between her studies. We don’t know what our chances are of getting a child that is right for us. It does seem to be about odds, and we aren’t really sure which ones to go with. There aren’t any guarantees. Here are the options:
1. Egg donor = pick a gorgeous young college student’s eggs, pick some gorgeous sperm, hope my gorgeous uterus can carry the off-spring for nine good months.
2. Embryo donor = hope some gorgeous infertile couple picks us to offer their gorgeous embryos to so my gorgeous uterus can carry that baby for nine good months.
3. Adoption = hope some gorgeous young pregnant woman thinks we would be the best couple to love and nurture her off-spring and that she is able to give us the baby after she carries the baby and gives birth to it.

None of these choices guarantee that the kid won’t have schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder or get addicted to drugs and alchohol or engage in public indecency. And working as I do in the field of mental health I am scared of all of the above happening. Despite us giving the kid all the love and nurturing and baby bjorn snuggling we can manage.
I don’t know why I don’t sound more excited. I was excited at some point during the presentation last Wednesday, but at some point I got really really over-whelmed. Why is it so hard for some people to have a kid? It don’t seem fair or right. Ah well… off to watch the Hallmark channel.

Friday, April 24, 2009

welcome ICLWers! - the story so far....

HI! I got on the intro band wagon a little late, but here I am!
I have enjoyed reading all about a whole host of people I have not "met"before and it has been enlightening, uplifting, fun ( i know sometimes it can be heavy going with what we are all dealing with but yes, sometimes fun too!) distracting, etc etc.
To introduce myself:
I am 41, my dp is 51, we have been together for over ten years, thinking about babies for most of that time, and the biggest word to describe my feelings in that process would be AMBIVALENT for most of that time. And I have been the one driving this whole baby thing the whole time! Yes, maybe ambivalent but determinedly focused would be a better if more cryptic description! When I was thirty -five I decided it was time to get serious about this whole thing and found myself a shrink that dealt with women ttc with erm..."issues", got a new therapist and then hummed and haa-ed about it all for about 3 or 4 years. I figured I had to have my fun and accomplish all my goals before we could have a baby. Then I wasn't sure, then I didn't think I would ever be able to accomlplish my goals, then we had family crises that got in the way, then we were not wealthy, then our house was too small and we had to move first, etc etc. You could typify me as a passive, ambivalent, yearning procrastinator. I didn't find out all the stuff I needed to about this whole LARK (sic!) until I was well on the way to being too old and fried to do anything about it. You could say I stayed in the contemplation phase for a long time!
In October 2007 I started temping and charting, which I did for almost eight months, from May to September 2008 we did 4 cycles of IUIs. We had planned to start in January, but I had missed cycles, had huge work stress, my dad died, our apartment flooded, I did not ovulate. I did three of those 4 rounds with clomid when it was discovered that I was not ovulating and that my FSH was too high ( even though I had had the high FSH for a long time no-one really noticed it until I was not getting positive OPKs and the alternative crunchy feminist clinic that I was using changed it's protocols and got more interested in my high FSH which previously would have been marginal. Even my lousy internist seemed disinterested in my FSH levels or the results of the day three tests I was told to have as I was already 40 at the time. But internists, as I have found out, know little about getting pregnant. I asked at least two internists what I should do to prepare for pregnancy or to see if I could get pregnant and they said "oh just go ahead, it'll be fine - how exciting!!!!". yeah, right!
We had our first IVF consult in October 2008 and because of their batch timing we did not do our first cycle till January - can that be right? doctor grumplestiltskin said he thought I had OF but to see if I might respond to an aggressive protocol of meds. After heavy doses for 8 days I had one tiny follicle and the whole cycle was canceled. His two word piece of advice to me as I am still sitting on the table with my dignity on the outs was "donor eggs."
We went for our second opinion in february. it was the same thing. I cried and screamed and threw shoes. ( after we left the clinic of course)
So as you can see, our journey to infertility has involved not a huge amount of medical intervention, lasted only a few months, but came to a screeching halt quite quickly.
We are now considering domestic adoption, embryo adoption or donor eggs.
I have been blogging about my experiences visiting adoption agency open houses. I am behind on my most recent open house which was wednesday and I still have not written about it. We have no internet at home till tomorrow. I am catching up at work.
Tomorrow I go for my last open house at a large and very prominent adoption agency here in Chicagoland. Not that I am boasting - just that the other two I have been to have been much smaller. I have spotted the same couple twice now - who are doing the rounds with me, - I wonder if it will be three for three tomorrow?!
Well ICLWers and others, please keep reading and help me along my journey and I promise to do the same for you:)
Happy Friday, everyone!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Adoption agency #2 - funny and flippant

There is something slightly scary about a room-full of infertile couples. The air is tinged with a quiet desperation. I look around and wonder why this or that couple can't conceive - what did they go through to get here?
The adoption talk happens at a branch of the Big Business Baby Factory out in the Burbs. It's so hard to find that one person arrives at 8.30pm as the whole thing is wrapping up. She couldn't find the place and when she did find it she was locked out and was left banging on the door in no man's land until someone happened to leave the building and she could get in.
It's really adoption 101. I meet my IRL IF buddy there (IF=infertile for the acronymally challenged). It's a rare chance to hang with someone I know in real life who is going through similar but different IF issues. S. can't come - and as I am busy info gathering I don't really expect it. It's nice to have someone familiar to sit by. The rest of the room is couples - all straight looking - (meaning comprising a male and a female) and one very heavily made up and slightly slutty looking female couple. When we are asked for topics we would like the speaker to cover I pipe up "same sex couples and singles" which covers me and my friends' issues. Everyone thinks we are a lesbian couple.
The speaker ( let's call her Ruby- not sure why but that name just popped out!) has been busy drawing a diagram of squares and circles in the shape of a family tree. With it she is illustrating that no matter whether the adoption is domestic, international, closed, open or whatever, the adopted child is irrevocably connected to two families at least - his adoptive and his birth family. She or he will always be connected to both - period. Adoption isn't a one shot or finite deal. It isn't over when the papers are signed. It evolves as the child grows and the complex relationships inherent in this truth cannot be ignored. Good point - I had not thought of it in that way before.
Ruby writes a list of topics that the audience members shout out on the white board - agency vs. attorney, domestic vs. international, open vs. closed and the two biggies - TIME FRAME and COST.
She saves those two till last. She is very engaging. She tells stories about the birth and adoptive families she works with. The most memorable points she makes ( and I actually did not learn anything new from her except the family tree analogy above) are about waiting time and cost. She talks in extremes - which is actually a touch misleading. It feels like we have been waiting an eternity to find out the answers to the biggest questions on our minds - how long will it take and how much will it cost? An hour into the talk she starts telling us about a couple who handed their "book" - photo and story book about the adoptive family to be shown to the birth mother so she can pick us - in on a Friday and were picked the following Thursday. That was the quickest turn around she had seen and she almost felt like telling the birth mom not to pick that couple as it wasn't fair to all the other people who had been waiting such a long time. The longest a couple has been waiting ( they are still wating) is 3.5 years. They have very strict criteria - only a caucasian baby and one where both birth parents are involved. As for same sex and single couples - how long do they wait? She did not say that they were less attractive to birth moms than straight couples - she just said that birth moms pick adoptive families for the most bizarre reasons - like they have a dog that looks like one the birth mom's grandpa had and it reminds her of him and so she picks that couple. Or they look down to earth. Or they have the same name as her best friend. Now I still know that same sex couples are going to be picked less but I feel better about it.
Onto the million dollar question: how much?
Well - miss cutie pie funny lady Ruby says, one couple that she knows spent $50,000 on an international adoption in Kazakstan (sp?). Another couple got a baby from a Balkan country which was also the birthplace of the adoptive mother. The baby came from an orphanage which was all too pleased to hand over the child to a national of that country and it cost no money at all! And we're all thinking - well where do we fall in this range? The room is thick with sweat and rapid mental calculations. We're all thinking - can I get a second mortgage? Will my mother lend me the money? Can I sell my soul to somebody for this baby?
And then it's over and we all pile out of the windowless room into the night. On the way to the parking lot I turn to a couple who were sitting on the other side of me and ask them which Baby Factory they go to. We talk, shivering in the cold, relieved to be spilling the beans to each other after an hour and a half of tension and anxiety. The wife says she has great eggs, but she had two IVF cycles and neither worked. Not sure if she miscarried or did not get pregnant but she feels her uterus is bad news. I on the other hand have an as yet unproven uterus - but one that I optimistically still believe can carry a baby - and eggs that have done a sorry disappearing act. She jokingly tells me that maybe we could make a deal - I carry her eggs and cook two babies - one for me and one for her. I almost take her up on it. She's blond, so is her husband, they are nice people. Sure, why not?
We go our separate ways and drive back to our respective lives, where our secrets and longings for a baby are tucked away a little more carefully. It feels like a let down. It feels like it's back to reality, back to the grindstone and back to dreaming of babies that miraculously appear regardless of miscarriages, losses, genetic anomalies, bad eggs, slow sperm, lethargic libidos. What a picture!
And by the way, I give the agency a B.

my dad

Sweetest kindest gentlest most dedicated dad, died a year ago today, April 17th 2008. I hope you're tooting on your saxophone and twiddling on the piano wherever you are:)

I miss you so much, dad!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

adoption agency #1 - small and personal

Well - I guess I have set myself up for three posts - one for each adoption agency. So here goes.
I went by myself - I am the designated information gatherer - I will collect info, digest, share it with S and then we will decide what to do next.
The small and personal agency is in a non-descript building in the suburbs. One of the directors opened the door to me. It's a small office. They schedule their information sessions to be one on ones - the personal touch, you know.
I wouldn't say she was warm - open and friendly enough but not warm. She wanted me to tell her a little about what had brought us to this point. I told her a short version of our journey. I tried really hard to use all the correct terminology - because I am a social worker and I like to be pc! She probably saw right through that! ( yes I can read minds!)
She basically told me that the birth mothers get to choose who they want to be the adoptive parents (I knew this of course) and that their agency doesn't have specific categories or criteria that would rule us out like many other agencies, but us being older and being a lesbian couple would mean that less birth moms would be inclined to pick us. She said that we needed to be realistic about that and that the more open we were about what we would accept in a potential match, the less likely that we would be disappointed. She also said that it wasn't hopeless, but that we probably weren't what most birth moms were looking for. ( I am paraphrasing)
So that was kind of a wake up call. And confusing and a little discouraging.
We talked about the money - it's kind of a pay as you go deal. The most money gets spent once you are matched with a mom. You can lose a lot of money if the mother changes her mind after the baby is born or any time up to that point. You could spend $30,000 and lose some of that.
The next step is to have a long consultation with them ( which we would pay for) and set up a plan of action: dear birth-mother letter and our profile, legal issues, home study, foster parent training and licensing.
I know this is sounding incredibly flat. That's honestly how I am feeling. It is hard to get excited about something that is so difficult, expensive,and where the odds are not good. I know that we will have to decide if we want to accept a baby that has been drug or alcohol exposed at some point. Etcetera etcetera etcetera!
I am honestly re-considering the whole egg/ embryo donation route. One thing is for sure - or more than one thing - there are no guarantees, we can't control it, the element of risk and uncertainty cannot be denied. Whichever way we go - we could sink a lot of money into this and come away without any children. I know - it's sounding like the glass is half empty right now!
Onward and upward.
Watch this space for the next installment of the wonderful world of adoption and infertility!
Part two after Thursday!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Icky work stuff and adoption stuff

1. I have had four bosses in 19 months. The first was a control freak who liked me because of my English accent (1 month - left for bigger and better things after 5 years with the organization), the second was an abusive, unstable, mean and nasty B.IoTCH (4 months -she got fired) the third was one of my previous collegues who taught me quite a bit about organization and accountability ( 6 months - interim director) the fourth was a consumate professional with good boundaries and a healthy respect for organizational hierarchy ( 8 months). She likes me and values me. The feeling is mutual.
My co-workers have not made her feel welcome. She resigned on Monday.
We are like a monster without a head, a train without an engine, an unruly class without a teacher. I am part of it whether I like it or not. It is not pleasant to be there at the moment.
2. I am excited about going to the adoption open house next week - in fact I have two next week and one the week after. I am doing the initial "reckying" before having S come with me. One is a small "non-traditional" agency which touts itself as helping all kinds of families ( you know, gay straight and single parents). Their application form has a "marital status" section that does not include partnered but the usual, married, single, divorced, separated thing. Hmmmm. I might point that out or I might not. I don't want to get on their bad side. They want to know about mental health issues - I plan on telling them I am the most compliant and well behaved depressed and anxious person they could meet. I see my shrink every few months, I take my meds and I have therapy every two weeks. I have never been hospitalized, I have worked full-time for 13 years in high stress jobs, I don't have two heads and most people would never know my secret. It's not a secret now, is it?
The second open house is at my most recent fertility center - it's an info session on adoption and a guest speaker is from another local adoption agency that accepts all kinds of families. The third is one of the largest agencies in town and I have heard mixed reviews about them.
I am looking forward to getting this party started. I know the home study and getting all the paperwork together will be lots of work. We need to start being more frugal and saving up our pennies. We need to make sure we have talked about all this stuff and got on the same page about parenting. We have spent so much time figuring out how to have a baby we haven't talked much about what we will do when a little one actually joins us.
Well that's all for now, folks!
I'll be hanging out at the fire station on my spare evenings. Care to join me?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Plan B - and kind thoughts from co-workers

I think it's really time for a new post! It has been almost a month and I have been brooding about a lot of things and doing lots of thinking, research and soul-searching.
The title comes from one of my co-workers whose car I was riding in the other day. We were just chatting and she asked me how the IVF project was going. I told her that it wasn't and had not for some time. She very gently asked me if we had a plan B. I was so pleased to hear that I immediately congratulated her sensitivity and thanked her for not asking me if we had thought about adoption!!!

Another co-worker who is really a friend had heard the options from me - I had outlined what i thought we were willing to do - domestic adoption. She just came up to me one day and said I was just having some thoughts about adoption and came up with some really interesting perspectives that I had not thought of before. She was so genuine and so obviously wanting to be helpful and thoughtful that we both teared up. What great experiences in the scheme of things where people's comments are often so thoughtless and can give so much pain.

In fact almost everyone to whom I have spoken about this in depth and who knows our story has been incredibly supportive and loving. You know who you are!

When we considered adoption over egg/ embryo donation we were thinking that there would be no need for medical intervention or huge unknowns in that area, we wouldn't be unloading a huge amount of money without knowing what the result might be, and we would be helping a child that was already going to be born rather than creating one out of one stranger's eggs and another's sperm. Those were our personal thoughts - everyone is different I know. Once I realized I could not get pregnant with my own eggs I gradually lost the desire to give birth - or gave it up - and for a while I thought I had given up the idea of having children. But throughout the last two months I have been contemplating all of this and am still contemplating - but feel much closer to taking action.

I have an info session coming up in two weeks at an agency that looks good that does "non=traditional" adoption and another one at the fertility center.
I will keep you posted and try to write more now that I am over my bloggers' block!

PS (added later) I was driving along on my errands today - I am off work for a week of bliss that has been not quite as exciting as I anticipated but nevertheless a very welcome break from stress - and something on the radio made me think to myself: oh, those conversations that women always have about labor and how hard it was and oh the breast-feeding was a blast ( or not!) and the pains and aches and morning sickness - I am never going to have that. Don't get me wrong - I am secretly relieved about the morning sickness but I don't get to have that big dramatic birth story that women seem to wield in all kinds of coffee and tea klatches for all eternity. I'll get over it - but it was seriously the first time I had ever thought about another thing I am going to miss.