Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Paper Pregnancy

"Paper Pregnancy" is the term used to describe the mountain of paperwork and requirements to meet before being accepted as a waiting family with an adoption agency. It is possible to receive embryos from a clinic, and not go through an agency to do so. It is also possible to receive embryos directly from a family known to you without going through either a clinic or an agency. We chose to look for an agency to match us, mainly because we wanted it to be as close to a regular adoption as possible, out of respect for the babies involved.

EVERY baby needs a family. This is not in question. Our choice was a matter of making a statement about how we viewed a process the law calls a "transfer of property." We see it as an adoption- opening our family to a life that we did not have any genetic part in creating. To go through an agency was more expensive, which is why many couples do not choose the same as we did, but we saw it as completely worth the cost. 

Because we chose to work with an agency, we got to work through the "Paper Pregnancy" of a traditional adoption, which included:

-Homestudy visits and safety inspections of our house
-Interviews, both individually and as a couple, with a social worker
-A physical and bloodwork (STD checks, mainly)
-Child Abuse Registry checks for every state we'd ever lived in
-Exhaustive questionnaires about our backgrounds, relationship, parenting philosophies, etc.
-Letters of recommendation from 3 different non-related person, including a pastor
-An intro letter and picture page for potential donating parents
-A letter stating that I had no conditions that contraindicated pregnancy
-Financial budget worksheets

Some of the things were humorous- who has to baby-proof their house before they even are allowed to try to get pregnant? We did! Others were embarrassing, like the bloodwork and doctor's visits required, but most of this process was very helpful to us as a couple as we worked together and became more solid on what we wanted and who we were. Our homestudy was performed through Bethany Christian Services, and I can't speak highly enough of their professionalism and helpfulness. Our social worker was wonderful, and we felt more than comfortable meeting with her and discussing our plans.

We began the process in January 2010, and had everything turned in by June 2010. So, all in all, a 6 month "Paper Pregnancy." It was exciting to be working towards a goal, and also strange to see our entire lives written out in the homestudy report. I would say that the paperwork process was much less stressful than the waiting for us.

The draw of EA

When Sam and I first sat down and bold-faced our looming infertility, we did what we usually do when making decisions together: we made a list. This list included all possible paths we could think of that we could go down, and it looked something like this:

Non-medical interventions to try to conceive:

  • More vitamins, herbs, & diet changes.
  • More charting
  • Ummm..... cross our fingers, don't think about it, stand on my head, and/ or quit our jobs and start an illegal drug habit?

Medical things to try to conceive:

  • Clomid
  • IUI
  • IVF
  • I can't think of anything sarcastic to add to this list, but I'm sure there's something. Somebody give me some ideas!

Non-conception options:

  • Foster-to-adopt
  • Domestic infant adoption
  • International adoption
  • Embryo adoption
  • Forget about kids and I can go back to school to become a nurse practitioner, which may in fact result in pregnancy if I manage to get us heavily into debt to do so.

Given all of those options, after I got done reading the list, Sam said he wanted to try EA first. I asked him why. I mean, I secretly agreed with him, but I wanted to know his reasons before I told him that. He said that he wanted me to have the chance to breast-feed, because he knew that was important to me, but that he really wanted to adopt too. The funny thing? He was right

There are a myriad of other reasons we wanted to do it, not the least of which being the sheer moral weight of the knowledge that we could be part of a solution to a problem few people knew about. I felt pulled, obligated to the little frozen babies as soon as I learned there were some that needed homes, and that I had arms that longed to be filled. We also knew that while older and medically needy children were waiting for placement too, we had no experience parenting yet, and didn't feel equipped yet (maybe in the future!) to address the needs of children who had had different caregivers before they came home with us. 

But I am not kidding, we picked EA so that I could have every opportunity to nurse the baby. Everyone has a reason for what they choose that goes beyond the standard "I saw a need that I wanted to fill." Mine was both the most self-centered and the most giving thing I can think of, but it still blows my mind a little that my husband knew what it was before I even voiced it myself. The rest of the list was never even touched- we found what we wanted and didn't ever have a reason to look back, for which I have absolutely no regrets.