By: Stacey Ellis
I didn’t share any of our infertility world with my parents. I have an older sister who is not having kids so I am their last hope for grandkids. And all of their friends have grandkids. Needless to say, the pressure is intense without them even saying a word. So with every failed IUI and IVF, I didn’t want them to feel the pain as bad, if not worse, than we already felt it. I didn’t want the constant, “How was your doctor appointment today?” Things just don’t change overnight in the fertility world. One day everything looks hopeful, the next day it’s hopeless, the next day hopeful again.
We made it through the weekend. Barely. My father only mentioned “pregnancy” or “when you get pregnant” a few times. Maybe he could sense something was going on. Maybe he just didn’t want to give up hope. I kept reminding him we are not getting pregnant; we are adopting. I needed to stay focused on the adoption. That is what makes me feel good. While he relented each time, I could see the sadness in his eyes, sadness a father has for his daughter when her original dreams are gone.
The next day’s doctor’s appointment is uneventful. Stay on the pill another week to get rid of that cyst completely. One week later, it’s time to start the fertility drugs…one shot—450ius of Follistim– a night until my next appointment. Dr. T’s nurse sends me the calendar. In 15 days, we will do an egg retrieval. I think to myself, really? I know my body; normal numbers or not, my body isn’t going to work on anyone’s schedule. I won’t cancel my dinner plans on that 15th day until it’s really happening. Still, I think this will be over in fifteen days no matter what – it will either work or it won’t in 15 days.
In the meantime, we don’t skip a beat on the adoption. We pick pictures for our Birth Mother letter and have a friend who is a professional photographer come and shoot some nice posed close-ups of us. We submit them with the birth mother letter to a graphic designer. Also in fifteen days we are in the “pool” of prospective parents. Fifteen days. The moment of truth.
We both know it’s a long way between “we have a healthy egg” and we have a “healthy pregnancy that is going to result in a baby.” It’s also a long way until we are approved to adopt, but we continue to chisel away at the requirements. For the first time, we learned what the words “home study” mean. Most people know the part where the social worker comes and checks out your home, but oh, there is so much more. They pretty much want your first born, if only you had a first born to give!
When we received the initial packet of information from the home study agency, my husband looked at it and said, “This is at least a ten hour project!” I say, “No, it’s not that bad!” It was only six hours. Okay, that was the first session. Add two more 3-hour sessions and NOW we’re done, almost. When you adopt in California, you are not the legal parents for six months. The birth mother can’t change her mind after 24 hours, but we would be foster parents for six months until it is finalized. So, our house becomes a “foster care” or “child care” facility and must be certified as such. So the paperwork is extensive.
The Adoption Application which covers the basics is in addition to the Adoption Questionnaire that we both have to fill out individually, which… also covers the basics. The basics include references, work information, financial information and I mean FINANCIAL information—exactly what we make and exactly how we spend it. We both need three sets of fingerprints through “Live Scan” which takes approximately two hours at a live scan facility. We need to pull our “pay stubs” but since we do direct deposit, we have to hunt for the verifications. We need a complete emergency disaster plan, inclusive of sketches of our floor plan and backyard by room measurements, showing all doors and windows and a separate location for a meeting place. Hello, neighbors. We both need a criminal record statement, and we need to sign off on the Swimming Pool Agreement (even though we don’t have one), the Weapons Agreement (even though we don’t have any), the compliance agreement, the Complaint, Discharge and Discipline Form, the authorization to release information, the grievance form and the list goes on. Then we need to attend a training at the home study agency in Dana Point at 6PM on a Tuesday night (if you are unfamiliar with Los Angeles traffic – that’s 90 minutes from us on a good day), also attend a red cross infant CPR/First Aid training (the entire day on a Saturday), both get TB tests and have our doctors fill out the medical forms, provide our marriage certificate, copies of our driver’s licenses along with DMV printouts, income verifications (again), references, copies of our home and car insurance paperwork, animal shot documentation and oh yeah, we have to actually child proof our home as if we have a toddler. Complete childproofing with gates, drawer locks, toilet locks, medicine cabinet locks, you name it. And, we have to buy the baby furniture because we have to show that the baby will have a place to sleep! Then when it’s all done, we pay the $2000 for the official home study analysis.
Tired yet? I haven’t even talked about the most intensive part. The hardest part so far was actually writing our autobiographies from the time we were born, to the time we met, to the time we married, to the time we realized we couldn’t have children, to today. We had to cover how we were raised, how our parents disciplined us, what we did as families, what kind of parenting “style” we will use, how we will be like or different from our parents. We were given five pages of questions that we had to answer, but in story form. Fortunately, I’m a writer in my spare time, so this wasn’t hard; it was just incredibly time consuming. We spent two eight-hour days working on this and it did cause us to discuss things most soon-to-be-parents never think to discuss. We both identified a couple whose parenting style we like. We called that couple and discussed how they parent, how they form a strong sense of identity in their children, how they discipline, and how they move through their everyday lives. Just listening to that couple put their parenting style into words was incredibly helpful. We ordered some books on parenting, such as “Dear Parent: Caring for Infants with Respect”. We know we’re not ready, but we nearly feel ready. We’ve talked about so much more than most other soon-to-be parents who are more worried about what crib to get and what name to pick.
I start to wonder, after doing all this, when will our baby arrive? Would the meds work or would we be waiting for a birthmother to pick us? On day 8, my doctor saw a few potential follicles. And then we learn that our insurance ran out and will no longer cover fertility treatments. I have a $15,000 lifetime cap on fertility treatments and now it is gone, forever. And we are in the middle of a cycle. With adoption costing $35,000 overall, we hadn’t expected to spend any more money on another try. $4200 later for the fertility meds, and $1600 later for the ultrasounds and blood work, today will answer all of our questions. Today is day 15 so today I go back to see Dr. T to find out whether there is any hope of a successful IVF or whether we will close that door forever…