Monday, October 24, 2011

Adoption 101

When considering adoption there are lots of choices and options. It can actually be quite overwhelming! You can choose from international adoption, infant domestic adoption, foster-to-adopt and embryo adoption. Here's a run-down of the various options.

1. International Adoption obviously means you will be adopting a child from overseas. There are positives and negatives to this. A real plus is that you're going to likely be adopting a child that has been orphaned, so you are saving an orphan! Which is quite an exciting thing to do. International adoption is also quite a complicated process because depending on the country you choose you will be filling out loads of different paperwork. One big reason you need to choose an agency in order to adopt internationally is because all of this paperwork is going to need to be translated. Another downside (at least for us) is the uncertainty of it all. We were considering adopting from Ethiopia, but this summer the government there decided they were going to really slow down the processing side of adoptions, so that means that people that signed up to adopt from Ethiopia and were told there would be a 9-12 month wait, may be now looking at 2-3 years of waiting.

When you adopt internationally, once you are approved you are basically put on a waiting list. Whenever there is a child ready to adopt they go to the next person on the list. That can be a real positive because it's not like you have to try to "convince" anyone that they should choose YOU as the adoptive parent. As long as you pass your Home Study process, your name just goes on a list, and to that country's government you are just a name on a list.

Another interesting thing about International Adoption is that in terms of how many orphans and countries there are out there, there really aren't that many countries to choose from. This is truly a shame! I wish we could just go to a country with a lot of orphans, visit an orphanage and take home a child that needs a home. However, it's WAY more complicated than that! Even just a few years ago it was very common for people to adopt from Guatemala, but it is now shut down for adoptions. I don't know why, but that definitely really stinks for the people that had gone through all the process to adopt from there when the adoption process was shut down.

International adoptions are also extremely expensive. This is because you have to pay so many legal fees, translation fees, and fees to both the US and country from where you adopt. There are also the international flights (and in the case of Ethiopia, you need to go twice) and lodging and food while you're in the other country, for up to 3 weeks in some cases.

I know this sounds like such a complicated process! But, we did consider International Adoption a lot. But, the fact that we were leaning toward Ethiopia when the news came out about the much slower process, we decided that was too risky for us.

2. Foster-to-Adopt Programs
I have to admit that I don't know much about this because I don't care to work much with the US or local government. I also think it would be extremely difficult to get close to and love a child not knowing whether or not they could be returned to their biological family. I don't think I could handle that. This is by far the least expensive route to go, but it also is more common that you would adopt older children. I greatly admire people that go this route. This may be something we consider in the future.

3. Embryo Adoption
This is an extremely appealing route to take! Basically, if a couple chooses to do Invitro-Fertilization, part of the process is that the lab creates embryos from the egg and sperm of the couple undergoing the process. Often, when IVF works and the woman gets pregnant, they will not use all of the embryos that have been created. This may be because they had triplets or something, or maybe because they have had all the children they feel they need. Hopefully, instead of discarding the embryos when they're done they will donate them. This means that another couple can adopt the embryos and complete what is called a "Frozen Embryo Transfer" to transfer these frozen embryos to another women's uterus and hope they implant in her! So, in our case, we would try to get matched up with a couple that wanted to donate their embryos and we would transfer them to my uterus and hope they implant.

This is appealing on many levels, mostly because you have a say in who the donors are (ie: people with good health, etc.), but also because you can be sure to create a really positive, in-utero experience for your child. This is also generally less expensive than both domestic and international adoption. There is one big problem with this though. Just like other fertility treatments, it just may not work. I think the rate of success for each round is somewhere around 30%. So, you may have to pay for a few Frozen Embryo Transfers (FETs) before one implants and you get pregnant. That's why it would be good to choose a couple who has a lot of frozen embryos, so that if the first or second time doesn't work, you could try again with new embryos. That's kind of the reason why we have chosen to not go with embryo adoption. Although it may be something we would like to pursue in the future.

4. Domestic Adoption
Our chosen route! In domestic adoption you first choose the agency you want to go through. We looked into both national and local agencies and decided to go with a local agency, who works with local pregnant women and local adoptive parents. After deciding which agency you're going with you go through the Home Study process (which we started this month and I will write more about as we go along). After you go through this process, which is mostly to be sure that you will make good adoptive parents and have a safe home for the child, you make a profile that lets the birthparents see what you're like, etc. We're not to the profile-making stage yet, so I'm not exactly sure what all that entails, but I don't think it's as "over-the-top" as Cam and Mitchell's profile book on Modern Family... haha

Anyway, then, you are put into the "pile" of adoptive family profiles. When a birth mother comes to the agency, she is usually about half-way through her pregnancy. The main job of the agency is to provide her with counseling and support to be sure that she knows what adoption entails and is confident in her decision to place her child for adoption. Then, the birthmother looks through the adoptive family profiles and chooses a couple of families that seem like a good fit to her, meets a couple of them, and she eventually decides on the couple she would like to raise her child! Can you imagine the roller coaster of emotions she must be going through? Whew!

Anyway, after that there's usually about 2-3 months for the adoptive family to prepare. There are a lot of legal issues that need to be taken care of, such as the birth father needing to surrender his rights, and the birthmother doing the same after the baby is born (this is the point where oftentimes adoptions fall through as the mother changes her mind and wants to parent the baby). But, we can get into all that later.

Anyway, that's where we are. The next month will be busy as we complete the Home Study process, but after that we'll mostly be waiting... with an average time between home study completion and placement of a child at 18-24 months. So, there may be very few updates in between. But, that's where we are. I hope you'll be praying for us and supporting us through this new adventure. It seems like this is our "new" rollercoaster... hopefully the ups-and-downs will be less frequent, but it does seem like there's a more guaranteed outcome of parenthood even if that does take 2-3 years. Oh dear... I'm SO not a patient person! :-)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Big Steps

So, we've made some big steps in the adoption direction! Back in May I did LOTS of research on adoption, agencies, etc. and found the "right" agency for us.

Well, last week (a week ago exactly), we decided to fill out the application for the October Home Study process! It didn't seem quite "real" yet, since we were told the average wait time is around 2 years. But, getting the invoice/bill for the Home Study fee made it much more real! Starting October 22nd, we're really doing this! AH!

Here begins our big adventure!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Timeline of our Story

April 8, 2006 - We met on a blind date!

December 29, 2007- We got married! Our Birth Control method of choice was Natural Family Planning. So, I've never been on birth control pills. Our NFP teacher told us my charts were "beautiful" and she'd never seen a clearer chart. This led us to believe that getting pregnant would be very easy because my ovulation looked so nice on a chart.

May 2010- Started TTC, a little terrified because none of our friends or family members were yet and were afraid of being left out! So, we took a long break until our friends were in the same place. If I were to regret anything about our journey, that would be it. Now, many of these friends have babies.

December 2010- Started TTC again, but not paying much attention to the details. We were lazy with charting because we thought it would be easy without it.

February 2011- REALLY started TTC, charting and reading all I could related to fertility to be SURE we were doing everything "right." Quickly got concerned because it wasn't happening right away.

April 2011- I started acupuncture, not only for fertility, but for anxiety related to infertility.

May 2011- Dave got a SA that revealed we have "little to no chance of natural conception." Because we had talked about adoption early on in our marriage as a plan for after having biological children, this becomes more of an option and we begin to look into agencies, countries, etc. However, we also decided to have Dave try the natural route to help with the issue and so he took supplements and also did acupuncture.

August 2011- Dave got retested and his numbers were much improved! Enough for us to try one IUI procedure. It was a BFN and we were crushed. Natural conception was still pretty much out of the equation and we had no interest in further fertility treatments. We attended the Catholic Charities informational meeting.

October 2011- We began the home study process! Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork... and meetings too!

December 6th, 2011- Our official home study visit was complete and we passed! We officially became a "waiting family!"

January 2012- We signed up with another TN agency as well.
We also applied for Adoption Grants from 4 non-profit groups.

April 6th 2012- We have officially been waiting for 4 months... no news yet...

May 4, 2012 - We received an email that a birthmother had chosen us! Not knowing much about her we were on pins and needs all weekend wondering if she would be a good fit for us. We found out the baby was due May 26th! Without much time to plan I still get 5 baby books from the library. :-)

May 6, 2012- Found out the birthmother was having a girl! We also found out she was healthy and seemed like a really good match for us. Wahoo!! We planned to meet her on May 14th, so we weren't really telling anyone IRL until that meeting when it would be more "official."

May 13th, 2012 (Mother's Day)- While telling my (Elizabeth's) family that we were chosen by a birthmother and were planning to meet her the next day we got the phone call that she had given birth and it was a BOY!  We were to get the necessities together, drive to Memphis and pick out a name first thing Monday morning! We obviously went into total excitement/panic/flurry mode!!! We didn't have any time to prepare at all! INSTANT maternity leave time!

May 14th, 2012- We met the birthmother and her baby. Both sweet as can be. Warning to potential adoptive parents: The hospital is WAY MORE emotional than you plan it to be no matter how much you feel prepared for it!

May 15, 2012- We brought home our beautiful and precious son, baby N. He is a true gift from God and we are so grateful for him each day... here begins our launch into parenthood!

December 10th, 2012- We legally became the buddy's parents! We even have the birth certificate to prove it. :-)
(When the buddy turned about 5/6 months we TTC again because we wanted him to have a sibling close in age.)

April, 2103
- We saw a new RE hoping to try a few IUIs, but instead discovered Dave's low testosterone. Dave began a series of different drugs to help get this in balance and this consisted of about 6 months of trying different things, getting more blood tests and semen analysis than we'd like to count.

July 2013- An improved semen analysis! We thought we were on the right direction, so continued the drug protocol and hoped for an numbers good enough to try IUIs in the fall.

November, 2103- After improved blood work we were very disappointed to discover that his most recent semen analysis was the worst yet. We decided to follow the new recommendations of the RE, but were told we would most likely need IVF w/ICSI in order to conceive. Feeling tired out of this process we thought about when to start pursing another adoption.

December 2013- We started the process of renewing our home study to adopt again!

March 1, 2014- Our home study is completed and we are officially a 'waiting family' at 2 different agencies.

October 2014- Spoke with our adoption social worker at our busier agency and were told our profile has been shown at least seven times and just hasn't been chosen yet. We are discouraged but pray that another child will join our family soon.

December 27, 2014- Got the call that a birthmother chose us and her daughter was already born and in the NICU and would be ready to come home in a week! Effectively freak out.

December 29, 2014- On our 7th anniversary we met our daughter and her birthmom. It's a match! Sweet P was ready to go home the next day, so we had about 12 hours to prepare for her (and somehow also sleep).

November, 2015- Knowing that our insurance would cover one round of IVF, we met with an RE 2 hours away who was in network. We loved him and decided to make the 2 hour drive to work with him, and have insurance cover the procedure.

April 1, 2016- Start daily IVF shots. Drive 2 hours every few days at 5am for appointments to check on follicle growth. Feel very nervous but excited.

April 14, 2016- Egg Retreival! 10 eggs were retrieved

April 19, 2016 - Embryo transfer day- We had 2 good-looking embryos. We transfer the highest quality and freeze the other one (and then one more very mediocre one on Day 7)

April 27th, 2016- Pregnant! BETA of 71.

May 16, 2016- Saw our baby on the ultrasound with a heartbeat flickering away.  3 months of joy and anticipation followed. Found out at 18 weeks we were having a girl along with a healthy ultrasound.

August 10th, 2016- Got a cervical polyp removed despite requesting it to not be removed. More on this to come in time...

August 16, 2016- Water broke- found out at Vanderbilt Hospital and sobbed. Chose to do home bedrest and pray baby stays in until 24 weeks when hospital bedrest would start

August 26th, 2016- She didn't make it to that 24-wk mark. Miriam Anne both entered and left the world at 7:11pm. Our hearts are broken. She was dearly loved and will continue to be loved and missed every day of our lives.

December 1, 2016- Abdominal cerclage procedure (TAC) with specialist

February, 2017 - Frozen Embryo Transfer

October 7, 2017- Our daughter (Baby Girl) was born! Our family is complete!