March into My Heart

Today’s Drip: Making the Decision to Adopt Amidst Other Choices

Having children is not easy for millions of women and their partners. The lifelong dream of the “picture perfect” family transitions to an ongoing, frustrating situation beyond the control of even the best infertility doctors.  Wanting children and not being able to conceive or maintain a viable pregnancy creates an emotional phenomenon I call “ChildDrenched: Drowning in the Passionate Need for a Child”.  Each passing month brings an excruciating blend of impatience and sadness.  There is no doubt in my mind that infertility is a disease and sometimes requires seeking alternatives through scientific or legal methods.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, reported that about 10% of women (more than 6 million) in the United States ages 18–44 years have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant.  This is an overwhelming number of frustrated women.  The good news is that options available to those who choose to give up trying on their own have grown significantly.  Infertility doctors are getting smarter and the technology is getting better.  Many women turn to intrauterine insemination (IUI) often called artificial insemination or the more complicated assisted reproductive technology (ART).  There are many different kinds of ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF) which is the most commonly known, and has been around for over 30 years.  IVF works by removing eggs from a woman’s body. The eggs are then mixed with sperm to make embryos which are then put back in the woman’s body. The CDC reported in 2010 that over 60,000 infants were born using IVF.  Success rates of IVF range from as high as 42% in women younger than 35 years of age all the way down to 5% in women aged 43–44 years.  Unfortunately, by the time a woman truly understands her infertility problem, she is typically in her 30s and pregnancy success rates keep falling from there.

My fertility went haywire two years after the birth of our second child at 35 years old and striving for a third child was extremely frustrating.  We tried IVF twice with no success.  We also became pregnant “by accident” twice but neither pregnancy lasted beyond eight weeks.  By the time I was 39 years old, I was truly ChildDrenched.  We adopted “the best puppy in the whole wide world” hoping to quench my thirst for motherhood (again) but sadly, I still felt cheated out of my third child.  We looked into surrogacy since our “reproductive mechanics” were still available to us.  We worried about finding someone we could trust to carry our baby and how many embryos to implant.  For many couples (particularly those with one or no children at all), it is an excellent solution to infertility. Making the choice between having multiple births vs. no pregnancy at all was a hefty decision we chose to avoid.  So we opted out of surrogacy, despite its growing popularity at the time.

My husband and I settled on adoption.  Adoption is not the best alternative for all couples facing infertility, but for us, it was the perfect answer to our prayers.  There were no science-related decisions and aside from exerting some patience and emotional concern, the physical hardship was non-existent.  Given my age, this was the big plus.  My ability to carry a child had clearly come to an end and I was thrilled to let a younger woman enjoy that privilege, as long as she was willing to let us raise the baby.

Finding a birthmother with the qualities and background we were looking for, who would also choose us to be the parents of her child, was the challenge.  Beyond that first hurdle, we were warned about the countless risks and possible outcomes (good and bad) after finding a birthmother.  We knew early in the adoption process that emotionally, adoption was a challenge.  But now, after ten years as an adoptive parent who also survived two pregnancies, adoption was, and still is, just as gratifying as giving birth and I love all my children equally.

I endorse and embrace all available alternatives to infertility.  None of the alternatives are perfect for everyone and given the various circumstances of life, we should embrace all the solutions to infertility, scientific or not, as well as all children.  We live in a time when there are excellent choices to avoid being ChildDrenched forever.  I encourage all people who feel the pain I once felt to explore the possibilities and live their dream.

Today’s Drip: Sending Kids off to Camp can be Emotional

In honor of summer, a departure from my usual subject, adoption, today’s post may still resonate with my “ChildDrenched” readers who have children.   Summertime brings warmer temperatures and sunnier days, easier schedules and thankfully, no homework.  It also brings camp.  Sending your child off to sleep-away camp can be a very emotionally draining time for parents.  I am about to send my third child away for an extended respite from the luxury of her own bed, technology at her fingertips, and improving  her reading skills.

She’s excited and cannot wait.  I, on the other hand, am nervous, panicking over packing her too much, and worried about homesickness.  I am preparing to be (temporarily) ChildDrenched once again; drowning in the passionate need for MY child.

This isn’t the first time she’s gone to camp, but this will be the longest adventure away from her home, her parents and her brothers.  She doesn’t talk about the homesickness she suffered last summer when it was a mere ten-day camp (and I haven’t reminded her).  I found it painstakingly difficult to resist the urge to go pick her up when I learned how unhappy she was.  This upcoming session will be 18 long days. She’s a year older and should be able to handle it, but I will undoubtedly be struggling to get through it.

Looking back, sending my two boys away to camp was easier.  Their only complaints were about the food, not how much they missed their home.  I was less concerned about how much clothing to pack or how they would keep their hair and body clean.  With my daughter,  I am also more concerned about the “life” experiences that will affect her while at camp.  Now that she’s ten, there are signs of puberty popping up and following her friends is much more important to her these days.  Will she make the right choices at camp, especially around boys?   She doesn’t talk much about them, but I have seen boys looking at her.  My older sons reassure me that boys that age may look, but they have no idea what to do. This is just the beginning of  the “boy issues” that I will worry about while she is gone.

Usually summer days seem to go fleeting by, but I know the days that my daughter is at camp will crawl.  I will be anxiously scanning the camp’s online photo gallery every day looking for her smiling (I hope!) face, which will make me miss her all the more.  I will resist the temptation to complain about the same dirty sweatshirt she is wearing for the fifth day in a row when I packed three others or that her hair doesn’t look washed, or even brushed.  If she is smiling in those pictures, I will be delighted and continue missing her warm hugs and sweet kisses goodnight.

Camp is a good for kids.  It challenges them in emotional and physical ways that they can’t get anywhere else. I am a big fan of building the independence and confidence through sleep-away camp.  I don’t mind paying those hefty fees to send her away happily while her parents remain at home pining away for her, knowing that she will be building friendships and memories that will hopefully last a lifetime.  I encourage other parents to give their kids the gift of camp, despite the loss of control over their daily activities and deep emotional dips we suffer while they are gone for 18 long days.  Yes, I anticipate being ChildDrenched once again; not for the child I longed to find through adoption but for my child who now holds a huge place in my heart and who I cannot live without.  Enjoy camp, my dear daughter!!