Sunday, October 28, 2012

Adoption As a Plan B: Jen's Story

                For us, the transition from trying to have a biological child to starting the adoption process took several months.  I’m sure that others move from plan A to plan B faster and for others it may take years to make that transition.

                I think a key part of it for us was we had already started talking about adoption long before we even started fertility treatments.  I understand that not everyone who adopts struggled with fertility, but we did.  However, being adopted, it was always something close to my heart and a conversation my husband and I had early on in our relationship.  The conversation went “let’s have a few of our own and adopt one or two, and have one huge, loving family”.

                After doing several rounds of fertility treatments, we were emotionally exhausted and I felt like my body was close to done.  With each treatment, after 10-12 days of doing injectable hormones, I would skip a day after trigger and then start taking an injectable blood thinner during my two-week wait.  Eventually, I would get a positive pregnancy test, they would take betas, the numbers would rise, then the numbers would fall, and I would miscarry.  We called this point in the process “Beta Hell”.  Then, we would start the whole process over.  The only time during the months that I wasn't injecting something in my body was while I was waiting to miscarry through cycle day 3 when we would start the new round. 

                In December 2009, we were in the midst of our fifth cycle.  Between the hustle and bustle of the holidays and being in beta hell, my husband and I decided that after this cycle was done, we could only go through beta hell one more time.  If that meant I got pregnant next cycle, then it would be our last, or if it took 3 more cycles to get pregnant, that’s when we would call it quits.  As we were getting dressed up to go out and celebrate our 5th anniversary with dinner and tickets to the Nutcracker (my favorite part of the holidays), we got the call that the beta they had drawn that morning had fallen.  This pregnancy was over.  Needless to say, I enjoyed a glass of wine with dinner that night as we put on our brave faces, ignored the pain, and celebrated our five years together.

                After the new year we started what we knew could be our last cycle.  Just like my body had done the last 4 cycles, my two-week wait ended with rising betas…and then falling betas.  When we went in to meet with the reproductive endocrinologist I explained, through tears, that I just couldn't do it again. I couldn't go on the rollercoaster ride.  We had such a kind doctor who understood our decision. 

                For several months, we didn't talk about babies.  We each had to deal internally with the new knowledge that we would not have biological children of our own.  I grieved the fact that I would never know what it would feel like to have a baby move inside of me, or to look in my child’s face and see pieces of my husband and me combined. 

                Slowly, during those months, we stopped thinking about the treatments that had failed and started remembering how good it was to be ‘us’.  Us before the treatments; before the monitoring appointments, injections before bedtime, and timed intercourse.  We started laughing together again, and my husband started being silly.  For so many months, he had walked on eggshells around our house, not knowing what he might say that would turn his hormone-infused wife into a blubbering mess of tears.  Those days were past us and we could enjoy each other.  I remember that spring being extra warm so the pool in our neighborhood opened up a few weeks earlier than normal.  We decided to go up and swim.  It was that day that in my mind, we were back to ‘us’.  I will forever remember laying on the lounge chairs next to Travis, both with our eyes closed, enjoying the sun shining on us.  He reached over and grabbed my hand and said, “I love our life”.  For me, that was the defining moment.  No matter what we had gone through, no matter how we were going to build our family, he was with me, holding my hand for the long haul.  That was what I needed to hear.

                Within a week or so we started talking about the next steps we wanted to take.  We got information from several adoption agencies and met with a social worker from one of them.   We started filling out that agency’s short application in early May.  It only took us about 4 months to be able to move from our plan A to plan B, but that was very valuable time to us.  We needed those months, free of the stress of fertility treatments and absent of the stress that would come with the adoption process in the coming months.

                If I have any advice for couples thinking about adoption, particularly after they have been doing fertility treatments, is to take some time.  It doesn't have to be a whole lot of time, but you and your spouse probably would benefit from putting some distance between the end of fertility treatments and the beginning of the adoption process.  I believe that many agencies (like ours) feel this way too, because they often request that couples either do treatments, or pursue  adoption, but not simultaneously.   Both events are so taxing on your emotions, so don’t make either one any harder than then it needs to be!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Guest Post: Embryo Adoption

Today's guest post comes from Shannon. An area that we here at Give1 had not even considered when we began fundraising and advocating for adoption was the area of embryonic adoption. It is an amazing avenue for families to consider and Shannon shares more about this below. You can check out her family website at

I am excited to be invited to post here on Give1Save1! I want to share with you about a domestic adoption avenue that many people do not even know exists. Some have heard of it, but are not sure what it is, what the process looks like or if it is an option that might be right for them or someone they know. I would like to share with you about Embryo Adoption (EA) and if there is interest, I would love to be a guest poster again and share with you more of the process and our journey.

Today though, let’s start with the basics. What is Embryo Adoption/Donation?

Since the 1980's infertile couples have sought the guidance and direction from fertility specialists, called Reproductive Endocrinologists (REs). These REs along with the assistance of specialists called, Embryologists, use modern medical advances to extract eggs from a woman's body to begin a fertility option called Invitro-Fertilization (IVF). After the embryologist harvests the eggs, he/she introduces the man's sperm with the eggs under a microscope. If the sperm fertilizes an egg, then the embryologist incubates the new life. This stage of life is called the embryonic stage and for this post I will refer to these little lives as embryos.

The embryologist along with the RE decide choose some of the created embryos to be transferred to the mother's womb in a procedure called a "fresh IVF cycle". The mother will have undergone hormone treatments to prepare her body to accept these little lives. The other embryos, if seen as good quality to the medical professionals, are then frozen for the couple for later transfers called, Frozen Embryo Transfers (FETs). The couple pays the clinic a yearly storage fee to continue to save the frozen embryos for these later transfers.

So, back to our question, what is Embryo Adoption/Donation?

Some use Embryo Adoption and Embryo Donation interchangeably, though similar in many ways there is a bit of a difference. Embryo Adoption is when one of these families who has undergone IVF procedures and who has frozen embryos decides to search for another family to adopt their embryos they have frozen at a clinic. The family has chosen not to "thaw and discard or donate to science" as many RE clinic contracts read. Instead, the genetic family understands that these embryos are living human lives and as difficult as the thought of another family raising their genetic children, they trust God and they seek out a family in which to place their tiny embryos. The placing family usually wants to know that the family has undergone a home study, been approved by an accredited adoption agency, and is prepared to adopt their embryos. Some Embryo Adoptions are private arrangements through an attorney. The placing parents may want open, closed, or semi-open arrangements with the adopting family.

In Embryo Donation, the placing family places their embryos with a clinic and trusts the clinic or agency to find the best match based on the criteria they put into writing. Embryo Donation can also be made through private avenues, but usually one associates Embryo Donation where the placing family has given their embryos to a clinic to place. In most of these cases, the arrangement is a closed and occasionally a semi open adoption arrangement. There are several agencies, many clinics, and websites that work to match families together and one does not have to be infertile to adopt children as embryos.

I know, you have a lot of thoughts and questions running through your mind. I know Rhea and I did when we first started this journey. We have learned so much about a situation in our country we never knew existed. When we started the EA journey in 2009, there was a reported 500,000 frozen embryos in our country. Quite recently, as I held our precious Sarah, I received an email with the latest numbers. Sadly, the numbers continue to rise. At this time, there are now over 600,000 reported frozen embryos in our country.

Of that number, Rhea and I, through God's great blessing adopted 6 tiny embryos. One survived to be born from my womb. Her name is Sarah Faith. Her story is a beautiful story of God's amazing hand and love. We are in the process of adopting again through Embryo Adoption. Please join us on our adoption journey at our family website where you will also find helpful links to help you learn more about EA.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Box in the Closet

Searching for my winter sweaters the other day, I came across a box I threw in the back of the closet of old prescriptions, boxes of syringes, and small clear glass vials. The box contains a red medical-grade syringe "sharps" container, full to the brim. It contains a variety of little glass vials both empty and still full.

Keeping a box of old syringes in a closet probably isn't the safest thing in the world, especially when you live in a home with three toddlers. I can't imagine throwing it out. I'm even pretty sure if we moved into a new home tomorrow, next year, or years down the road....the box would follow us to our new home and into the back of a new closet again.

I remember a long time ago when the box was new. I remember walking out of a pharmacy with all of those same syringes and vials and pills new in their packages carried in two large grocery bags. A receipt a mile long trailed behind me. The brown paper bags contained all my hope, right there wrapped up in a convenient package. I didn't know at the time that all my hope at the time might have been in those bags - but my future was not with it.

The box reminded me of how elusive parenthood was for a very long time and how, at the time, I would have never predicted the three littles under our roof today.

Someday I'll share with my kids the story of our family in it's entirety. That story includes how difficult it was for us to conceive. The importance of sharing this truth with our children someday may help them understand our re-directed passion in fighting for them, our willingness to let go of one dream and begin with another, and why adoption became the heart of our family. I hope my daughters can also understand a woman's worth should never be placed on if she can carry her own children.

Parenthood is a blessing, not one that everyone gets to experience, and never to be taken for granted.

The box reminds me of that. So for now, in the closet it stays.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Special Needs Adoption: Trisomy 21 and HIV

For those researching about adoption as well as those who haven't yet selected their adoption path - I would like to share with you some information about adopting a child with special needs. In the adoption world, special needs can include any cosmetic or orthepedic or physical impairments (ex: missing digit, missing ear, cleft palate) to mental and learning disabilities (ex: emotional disability, specific learning disability, mild cognitive disability) to having a diagnosis of a known disease such as HIV or AIDS.

The term "special needs adoption" can be very wide.

Now before you click off this post, and tell yourself, "That's just not for us." I wanted to let you know about an organization that works to assist families who are interested in special needs adoptions, specifically, for children with Down's Syndrome and HIV as well as AIDS. The organization is called Project Hopeful.

HIV and AIDS treatment has come a long way since the early 1990s and the time of Ryan White. Adopting a child with special needs is something that you may have either considered or may be something you aren't comfortable with at all. To learn more about adopting children with special needs such as HIV and AIDS as well as other needs - please check out Project Hopeful's resources on their page. You may find that a special needs adoption is not as scary as it sounds. Project Hopeful also has a link to special needs children already identified and eligible for adoptoin who are currently waiting for families.

Please take a second to watch the Tweetmeyer Family's video below about the truth about HIV and AIDS that they made with their family through Project Hopeful and see their wonderful familily created through adoption.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Any Families Out there???

Just a quick check in since it has been a bit quiet around here lately.

We have so far featured 4 domestic families on our site since we launched over the summer. Together, we have raised over $3,000 for these families combined!

We are still looking for families to feature as Family of the Week. If you would like an application to be featured, please email me at onesweetworld67 at gmail dot com. We have had a lot of interested families ask for applications, but not so many returning them. So if you are waiting to turn yours in - now is a great time!

We are also looking for contributors for guest posts. If you would like to write a guest post, or you have a blog and would like to add a previous post that you think relates to our audience, please let me know. Some great topics include........

  • How to choose an adoption agency
  • Older child adoption
  • Adoption from foster care
  • Tips for transitioning
  • How you were lead to adoption
  • Birthparent support and resources
  • Birthparent perspective
  • Adoptee perspective
  • How to prepare extended family for adoption
  • Unique perspectives from transracial families
  • Adoptions of special needs children

Your Partner in the Process,

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Managing the Chaos - Life with Three Toddlers

I am new to this whole parenting thing.

There are days when I feel like a total failure. Days when, at dinner time, I look in the fridge and declare it's "breakfast for dinner night" and we eat scrambled eggs and cereal. Days Weeks were I let the laundry pile up and I can't muster the strength to go through it all. Days when my patience is thin and nap-time seems far away.

I'm learning.

One thing I have learned from parenting is to let some things go. As a type-A personality, I want things immediately. It's all or nothing. I've come to realize that life with three toddlers, life post-adoption, does not always go as planned.

It's easy with three kids around the same age to group them as 1. I find myself lumping them together for some things. Let's all watch Elmo. Everyone takes a bath. Jammie time for everybody. You want a snack? Everyone gets a snack. I find, although, the more I lump them together in things the more I don't realize their differences. Sometimes, in the rush to get things done and accomplished, I forget to slow it all down and look at who they are becoming. Noticing their differences.

My youngest girl, for example, just started loving Sesame Street. She has a strong personality and she wants things her way all the time - which is hard, when you're the smallest. She hates getting her hair done but she loves dressing up. I just recently found out she loves painting.

My only boy loves to cuddle. He lugs around a pink bunny rabbit which is actually his sisters but he claimed it as his own. He won't sleep without it. If he is away from his twin sister for even a little bit, he will greet her with a big hug. He struggles with nap-time and bedtime. He loves to play cars but also loves to play with baby dolls.

My oldest girl loves to sing and dance. She recently is totally into Disney princesses. She has a sweet tooth like her mom and loves to spend time with her dad in the vegetable garden. She loves to point out airplanes in the sky and she sings at the top of her lungs in the car during the morning ride to the sitters.

In playing off of their individuality, I've realized that each one of them needs and deserves alone time with their mom and dad. It's not just an "adoption thing." Each one of them values and deserves alone time with mom and dad. It doesn't have to be an entire day, but small moments that let them know they are loved and valued as individuals. This probably comes as "old hat" to veteran parents, but for me, this was a recent revaluation.

So I'm trying to incorporate more alone time with each of them. Taking my son to the grocery store for a quick errand. Taking my daughter to a movie. Letting the oldest stay up an extra hour or two to watch a show on tv with me. Cuddling with one of them during their nap time. Letting one of them work in the garden with dad for a while.....

These are all things I'm trying to do. They are little things, but I know they mean a lot.