It’s hard to believe that it’s been six months since I wrote here. This blog was my lifeline for a long time, and being able to express what was going on for me in this space was always such a relief!
Some of my IF friends already know about this, because I have written about it elsewhere. I chose not to write here for reasons of protecting the privacy of this somewhat fragile situation. But now I feel it’s safe to share what happened, because it is now well and truly over.
In January this year, I got a call from a very dear friend, herself an adoptive mother, and someone who is just always thinking of how she can help others. She had heard through a friend of hers of a woman who wanted to place her unborn baby for adoption. I can’t tell too much of that woman’s story, because I feel I still have a duty to protect her privacy, although I can say that she was in a dire situation. I think that everyone who considers adoption is. I love this description of it: the burning building test.
We phoned her with our hearts pounding in our throats, and she sounded really kind. That was my first and lasting impression of her. We arranged to meet for lunch, which I had assumed would just be a first introduction, but she brought her mother along, and it turned out to be the most intense grilling interview of my life. In all fairness, we were discussing the future of her baby, so it should have been. By the end of the lunch, the decision had been made. We were to be the parents of this tiny little 17 week old fetus. For us, the decision was a little premature, we weren’t comfortable, and we also weren’t entirely convinced. Even if we had been, it’s unlikely that we would have been quite as over the moon as they seemed to be expecting. You don’t remove 6 years of infertility like an old jacket and start leaping around with joy. I would imagine that it’s something that peels off a little more gradually like a cloak of thorns, a process that might require a little love, patience and disinfectant along the way.
That night, we started getting some freaky sms’s. You wouldn’t have been entirely delusional in reading these sms’s and thinking that perhaps we were being asked to provide a laptop computer, and who knows, maybe some cash and a cell phone. But at the same time, it was clear that the potential BM was freaking out substantially, and that was understandable. Like I said, her situation was dire, and she’d recently been through a fair amount of trauma. Adding the concept of handing her child over to complete strangers clearly wasn’t helping her emotional well-being. I felt as if I needed to be strong, calm and comforting. But see, the potential BM wasn’t the only one freaking out. The intensity of the day had landed me with a migraine that was scared of nothing, and I just wasn’t feeling ready to step into the fairy godmother role of solving everyone’s problems. Because I’m not a fairy godmother. I might have spent the entire day trying to portray the perfection of our lives, our finances, our home and our parenting ideals, but truth be told, I’m just a gal whose ovaries aren’t playing along and at some point along the line as a parent, I’ll probably fuck up a little here or there. I simply don’t have all the answers, and I was wary of pretending that I do and setting a precedent in that direction.
In the following week, our social worker met with her. Our social worker has been in the business a while and I reckon she could spot the uncertainty from a mile away. She wasn’t convinced either way, but together we decided to take the next step and arrange a fetal assessment scan (there had been no medical care up until this point). We knew the risks and decided to view it as a charitable gift for the time being. The scan was possibly one of the most hectic days of my life. I had signed up for a diploma which cost the same as an IVF (the currency of the infertile woman – how much is this beautiful couch/overseas holiday in IVF’s?) and I was suffering from severe Imposter Syndrome. Google it. Basically I had managed to convince myself that despite having a degree with a major in some seriously tough mathematical subjects, I was for sure the only person doing this course that should not be there, and that the course administrator had made a mistake in admitting me. It was the first day of the diploma, and I was going to have to sneak out half way through to go to the only appointment the fetal assessment clinic could give us in the next three weeks. I had to sneak out and go and hold the hand of a woman who was very possibly carrying a child that we might become the parents of, a child who we were going to see on a TV screen. An actual scan. The kind that infertile women dream about in the same way other people dream about winning the lottery. Not surprisingly, when the very first thing we had to do on the diploma that morning was a personality test to see which we had the highest traits of, dominance, influence, steadiness or compliance – mine came back as basically being the most ridiculously insecure person alive (after I had to throw away the first test because I filled it in wrong).
That afternoon we went home with those scan printout things. The kind that people stick on their fridges. And Facebook pages. It had gone well, BM had been just as nervous as us, and like I said, she was really kind and she and I got on quite well, so we were able to laugh about it. I held her hand and the three of us stared at that screen with equal disbelief. That night we got an sms from her mother, congratulating us on the gender of the baby. The next day, the stream of sms’s that we had exchanged a few times a day with the BM over the last three weeks, suddenly fell silent.
We were unsure on what to do, was she just taking some time out? We wanted to give her some space. And then I did something, that well, I’m not terribly proud of. I Facebook stalked her. Her profile, the birthfather’s profile and the profiles of his entire family were wide open to the world. Wide. Wide. Open. And hers was covered in scan photos, of a baby who had a name and whose birth she was really looking forward to.
It would have been nice to hear from her directly that she had changed her mind, that’s all. From our perspective we were not completely surprised, but we were completely gutted. Much more than we had expected to be, it seems that protecting yourself with logic doesn’t work any better in a situation like this than it does in a failed IVF. I literally felt like my heart had fallen like a stone onto the floor. Again.
Eventually, as usual, we did get over it, and we realised reluctantly that there were some upsides to the whole thing . First of all, it was a change in theme from a failed IVF. Much cheaper (one lunch, one scan and some prenatal vitamins). And there was an actual baby involved, which somehow seemed to be a step up from 43 severely damaged and completely hopeless embryos. I don’t know, but there was a human element to it that we never experienced in IVF. I can’t say we walked away from it with a song in our hearts exactly, and in fact DH is fairly angry about it. But sometimes I think there is just a specific amount of suffering that we have to go through before we can be parents, and maybe we’ve just crossed one more off that list and stepped a little closer. Please God let that list be getting shorter. Please God.
It has also finally opened our hearts to something that we never really considered before, something that I never felt drawn to. Donor eggs. I so badly wanted that miracle adoption, the one where the birth mother and I became fabulous mates and everyone lived happily ever after. The one where we got to give a baby a better chance at life and so the world would be a slightly better place (how arrogant is that). But I learned some things along the way here too. Money doesn’t make a better parent. Maybe that child would have had a better chance of attending university in our household than it does now (it was born two weeks ago). But it (sorry I can’t mention the gender) definitely is not lacking in love. My prayers that the right thing would happen, have been answered, no matter how much heartache it brought us.