life changing

Awkward Infertile Moment

So I’m that guy, standing at the front desk of a women’s clinic with his sperm sample in outstretched hand trying to explain why he really is in the right place.

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I believe that people struggling with infertility are some of the most mistreated people in our society. When stricken with the ailment, through no fault of their own, they somehow lose all rights to privacy and dignity. We have what is called secondary infertility. We were able to have a biological daughter, but following a miscarriage we were unable to get pregnant again

When my wife and I were first diagnosed as “possibly infertile,” she was put through a battery of invasive, painful procedures that according to the doctors had very little chance of having any positive result. To add insult to injury, the cost of the procedures was very high as our insurance would not cover any of these procedures.

This is what I like to call “The Infertility Rollercoaster.” We would save our money for a few months for new treatments. We would go to the new doctor that we were referred to after the last one concluded that we needed a more specialized physician. We would be given hope in the procedure and the steps they told us they were going through in order for this to be a successful attempt. My wife would get the shots and pills for the preparation for ovulation. Then we would go in for an IUI (Intrauterine Insemination), and the waiting game began. Two weeks later, we could not stand the suspense anymore so we would purchase a pregnancy test. Every test was a crushing reminder of our powerlessness in the situation, but we gathered ourselves back up and rode that rollercoaster several times.

So on one such occasion, we were finally at the day to perform an IUI. We had to go to a clinic in a town about 30 minutes from our home, so time was of the essence. We collected my “sample” at home and hit the road. We were told that it would be best to hold the sample under my armpit until we reached the clinic in order to keep it warm and alive until they were able to process it and to get it to them as soon as possible, so when we arrived at the clinic we knew time was running out.

I got out of the car, with the sample under my arm and walked into the lobby of the Women’s clinic. For some reason, I had been nervously anticipating this exact moment for weeks now. At the front desk there were three receptionists watching me as I entered the front door. I went to the desk and reached out my hand with the cup that contained my still warm sample. The looks on their faces were not encouraging. One woman said to me,” You must me in the wrong place.”

Those were not the words I had hoped to hear at that moment. I asked if this was the clinic we were scheduled to have our procedure in. The ah-ha moment came as one of the receptionists explained that their company actually had two clinics, and that the one we were looking for was on the other side of town, about 15 minutes away.

I got back in the car with my wife and as we drove to the other clinic we could not help but laugh the whole way there as we thought about the ridiculousness of the whole situation we were experiencing. Sometimes, the only way to make these things bearable is to laugh.

Long story short, that IUI, with the shots and visits leading up to it, cost us about $800 plus the negative pregnancy test that we had a few weeks later. That was a dark period in our lives. Thankfully, we had a beautiful 4 year old daughter to soften the blows that came with each failed attempt at growing our family.

Looking back and knowing that the difficult, humiliating, invasive, painful experiences we had with infertility, pushed us towards adopting 3 more amazing children, I would do it all over again. It helped us open our hearts to adoption and prepared us for the challenges we would face throughout the adoption process.

My thoughts on birth mothers

So I’m that guy, who after adopting three children from the same birthmother, respects and appreciates the strength and sacrifice it took for her the give them and us a gift beyond measure.

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First, to be clear, as a man and a father I can’t and won’t ever fully understand the bond that is created between mother and baby during those first nine months of a child’s development. In the same respect, I, as an adoptive father, will never fully know the struggles that a mother goes through in placing her child for adoption. With that being said, after adopting three children from the same birthmother, I feel like I do have a unique perspective to share about our experience that I hope can help people.

We get many different types of reactions when we tell our story of adoption. We know it’s unique and that it interests people, but it is amazing to hear the variety of reactions from people. When we explain that we have three adopted children who are half siblings, I can only imagine the thoughts that go through people’s heads. I am given insight when sometimes they choose to share those thoughts.

I believe the appropriate response is, “Wow that is amazing. What a blessing to you and your family.” That truly is the response of many people and it gives us the opportunity to explain all the ways our family has been blessed through this process.

Other responses that we get are somewhat different. I cannot say they are bad or wrong, because if I were in their shoes, I would possibly react in the same way.

Here are some samples of things other have said that have caused me to write this article. “Does she do this to make a living?” “How many more will she have?” “Those kids are so lucky.” “Will you adopt another child if she has one?” I think my personal favorite is, “Does she know where babies come from?” The one I dislike the most is, “How can she give a baby up for adoption?”

I will address the worst one first. A birth mom does not “give a baby up for adoption.” A birth mom CHOOSES to “place a baby for adoption.” This small change in wording speaks volumes. The choice our birth mom made has had a tremendous impact on our lives and the lives of our children. It breaks my heart to know that our happiness and the future of these children have come at such a great personal price to her.

When people say, “Those kids are so lucky,” I can’t help but think that we are so lucky. Infertility was a dark period in our lives. After having a biological daughter and wanting to have more children, we felt completely powerless to grow our family. We are lucky to have three more beautiful children in our home.

When people say, “Does she make a living with this?” I think, “That sure would be a hard way to make money.” Ask any mother what the most difficult experience she has had in life, and without fail in the top responses you will find, “giving birth.” Couple that with the added emotional pain of knowing that you will not be able to care for that baby throughout its life and you have a very traumatic experience. How much should a person be paid for that? We all know that adoption is expensive, but at best the birth mother will have a period of time where an agency or adoptive family will help with living expenses and medical costs. In some cases there is a small amount of money available to help her get back on her feet after the delivery. But in reality, the bulk of adoption expenses go to pay the lawyers, adoption agencies, and doctors. The answer to the question above, based on our experience is, “no she does not make a living as a birth mother.”

When people have asked us, “Will you adopt another baby if she has one?” it always makes us think. In our mind we do not expect that she will have another baby to place with our family. But we thought the same thing after the first and after the second. We cannot look at either of them and say there was not a doubt in our mind that they were meant to be in our family. We had a strong feeling to move forward with each adoption. We also feel strongly about keeping them together as much as possible. The answer to that question is, “Of course we would adopt another baby if we were in the situation and felt that same feeling prompting us to do it.” Our true hope is that if or when our birthmother does have another one, she has pulled her life together to be able to raise that baby in a secure home and enjoy the blessings of having a child.

Finally we have arrived at my favorite question. “Does she know where babies come from?” Surprisingly I have heard this one multiple times. I am pretty sure that the answer to this question is, “Yes. Yes she does know where babies come from.”
The birth mother of our children is the one of the strongest people I know. She loves these children so much and sacrificed her own feelings to place them in a situation where they could thrive. She grew up in very difficult circumstances and instead of continuing the pattern with her children, she broke the cycle and gave them a different future. I have tremendous respect for her resolve to do that.

As the adoptive father, her sacrifice leaves me in awe. I feel a great responsibility to guide these children toward the life that she dreamed they would have. I pray every day that the faith she had in me and my family is rewarded as she watches these children grow.

When she put our first boy into my wife’s arms, simultaneously her heart was breaking and ours were being filled. At the same time our hearts broke for her. Adoption brings about a flood of different emotions, and it is far from easy for either party. I hope my story conveys my respect for birth mothers. As I stated to begin with, I don’t pretend to know how they feel when faced with such a difficult experience. But I can say that their sacrifice changes lives for generations to come.