Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Big Adoption Series - Chapter 1


All day long, my big boy and I have taken turns busting out into, "Light-light-light up the sky, you light up the sky to show me you are with me..." (Listen here.)

What does that have to do with adoption? Nothing really, except for the fact that I would be singing alone were it not for one of the shiniest gifts of my life here on earth. Adoption is something I stumbled into. Somewhere in my late twenties, I bumped my shin on it and now, I wear it like a badge. It has shaped who I am, it has shaped my whole view on the world. It has even straightened up the edges of my thoughts on the world after this.

Profound, right? Well, I know it sounds exaggerated, but it's just the plain truth.

My husband and I have adopted thrice. We are Mommy and Daddy to Calvin (5 - "and a half!", born in South Korea), Ruby (newly 4, born in South Bend, IN) and Silas (2 in September, born in South Korea).

My hope for this series is that it will serve as a stand-alone series, linked up in its permanent home on the side-bar of my blog. I hope to give the ins and outs and ups and downs and zig-zags of adoption and becoming a family. I hope I will answer your questions, because the single most-asked question I receive from readers is not about paint colors, or cameras, or farmgirlishness, or salsa. It is adoption. And I can promise you this - there are few things in this life that cut straight to the heart of me quite like this story does. Should we ever become friends, and I hope we do, I will probably urge you, at the most remote opportunity, to adopt. I don't see a good reason why more people do not do it. It is biblical and necessary and it will knock your socks off, in the best possible way.

Before the Beginning

From time to time I hear of people who get married and just decide to adopt. They just know they want to. They know it's important. And they must have a hunch that it's part of God's plan for their family. I am inclined to envy these people, just for a moment. I feel like they must be a little wiser than I to understand that adoption, beyond necessity, is the gift of a lifetime.

For us, the decision was born from necessity. As such, the necessity aspect merits a paragraph or two. (Or ten.) Maybe it's the story behind the story, or at least one of them.

Growing up, I was never really a "baby person". I babysat for money, because that's just what girls my age, in my town, did. But I didn't love it. I wouldn't have done it for free, like some that I knew. Still, I never doubted in that young, hazy way, that one day I wanted to have children of my own. In fact, I had a strange feeling that I wanted several. Though it didn't entirely make sense to me at the time, I can look back now and see that I saw in my own Mama the truth that loving all different kinds of random babies was not a requirement for being a fun, loving, present mom. I saw in her that even though I didn't want to grow up to be an elementary school teacher, even though I would not be the church nursery chairperson, I still might have what it took to love being Mommy one day.

I boxed those thoughts up, folding them into the tidiest square, and shelved them in the way-back, where I knew I would be able to find them when the day came.

Then, I got married. I got a job. I got another job. I did what I did, which was to push myself toward success in each opportunity. Five years into our marriage, living in an over-priced, slightly ghetto apartment in Arlington, VA, after landing an exciting job that I was not qualified for, the day came. That hidden switch was flipped. Why? I really don't know. But almost overnight, I wanted to be a Mama.

The flipping of the switch launched the roller-coaster, that would become our lives for the next two years, into motion. I was not especially surprised that I did not get pregnant right away. I wasn't especially tortured over it. Yes, it was frustrating. It became redundant, quickly. I was the hamster on the wheel, running, running, but going no where.

Eight months later, we were back in Indiana and I scheduled an appointment with a fertility specialist named Jan. He was a he. I fibbed and told him we had been trying for a year, which was what I had heard was the requirement. He, in return, told me that a healthy woman at my age (27) should seek help after six months.

We did the drills and jumped through hoops. Most of the time, I was not an emotional basket case. I was frustrated and tired of it all, but I was very hopeful. Month after month, I would sit in Jan's office and he would look at me all perplexed and say, "Why aren't you pregnant? I really thought you'd be pregnant by now." I would look back at him, even more perplexed, and not say a word.

I Googled message boards and home remedies. I chugged cough syrup on certain nights and thought fertile thoughts and flew through home ovulation predictor kits. Each month, I rode that rickety car up the hill of hope. I sat at the top, suspended, for days, then I plummeted, the metal bar pushing into me the whole way down.

Jan did procedures and surgeries and more blood work and every result came back normal. Before long, I was up on the drugs. Hiney shots, ya'll. Jan informed me that I could do a total of four rounds. My aunt (a nurse) would shoot me in the hiney and a predetermined number of days later I would go back in to the office for an ultrasound to ensure that I would not end up with six babies, a reality tv show, a busted-up marriage, bad hair extensions and a humiliating DWTS gig. I would get the green light, then a week or so later, I would go back for another procedure designed to put everything exactly where it should be under optimal conditions, thereby maximizing the potential for success.

As you can see, things had taken a turn for the...clinical.

Jan, whom I respected greatly for his conservative approach to infertility, had discussed with us the fact that most couples had success by the 4th round. If we continued to defy the odds, our only option would be In Vitro Fertilization. From the start, we felt strongly (for reasons mostly unknown) that this was not a road we wanted to travel. Never once did Jan push us in that direction. In fact, he warned us of the expense, the health implications for the baby born under these circumstances and the risk of going into debt only to remain baby-less.

After our second round of Clomid and the whole rigmarole, still lying in the office in my paper gown, my eyes welled up, and tears coursed down my cheeks, puddling in my ears. At that precise moment, I was done. I was not hopeful, that it would be successful. Cory and I decided right then and there that if it didn't work, we were calling an adoption agency.

It didn't work.

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Join me here next Tuesday for Big Adoption Series - Chapter 2