Sunday, June 7, 2009

How do you know when it’s over?

Many a blog post has been written about this question. How do you know when it’s time to stop trying? How do you know when to pull the plug on treatment? How do you know when it’s over?

The answer more or less is unanimous: You just know.

Like I know now. I think it’s over for us. I have finally accepted that you really can’t fight nature beyond a point. I’m spent, tired and helpless. Yes I’ve got 4 blastocysts on ice, but for the first time in my IF journey, I don’t feel like I have any hope left. And I know I’ve been repeating this over and over again, but what can I do? It is what it is. I am feeling entirely dismal and hopeless.

So in an effort to try and focus on having a family instead of focusing on trying to get pregnant, we decided we should attend a few adoption information sessions. A local support group held the first one we went to. The moderator suggested we start attending information sessions that are held by the various adoption agencies in the area, so that we could gather information, and make our decisions on what route is best for us. So a few days ago, we attended a session by a local agency.

While it was very emotional to just be there at these sessions, they were also very informative. Some of you mentioned you’d be interested to know more about what we found out, so I thought I’d list out some of my learning here:

1) Adoption is NOT as expensive as I had believed it to be. I was under the impression the whole process could cost us somewhere in the range of $50k. But apparently not. The average cost seems to be more in the range of about $15-$20k. (Big sigh of relief here. While that is still a lot of money, it’s relatively a whole lot easier to manage than $50k)
2) The average time for an adoption to be completed is about 16 months. This is for domestic adoptions. Of course things go quicker in some cases, and in some, they don’t. International adoptions could take upwards of 2 years.
3) International adoptions are limited to some countries that have been approved by the Hague Treaty. Being of Indian origin, we were pleased to confirm that adoptions from India are allowed under the Hague Treaty. However, we are not US citizens. We are permanent residents, and that could pose a problem in the International Adoption process for us. We still need clarity on this, and are trying to find out more details on whether we would even be allowed to pursue international adoptions.
4) On average, children adopted through international adoptions are usually older in age, and most international adoptions are of children between the ages of 1 and 4. Infant adoptions are possible usually only through domestic adoptions.
5) The county adoption / foster adoption is the cheapest of all. We have not got a lot of information yet on this, and I am going to try and find out more.
6) In domestic adoptions, the trend is moving towards open adoption across the country, where the birth parent(s) are involved in the child’s life in some form or fashion. The moderator described the birth parents as “an additional set of in laws”. This is something I have to get used to. I do understand how an open adoption is good for the child, and how the child would obviously feel more secure with the knowledge of his / her roots and birth parents, and how it would be good emotionally and psychologically for the child. However, I am still trying to make myself accept this mindset and I’m not sure I know how to. I can’t really explain why I’m having trouble accepting this kind of openness. I guess my next point may explain why I’m conflicted.
7) The home study process is a 4 step process: 1) The social worker meets both of you together. 2) The social worker meets you alone 3) The social worker meets your DH alone. 4) The social worker comes home to complete the home study.

You have to have “dealt with the grief of your infertility” before you jump into the entire process. The home study part itself could be emotionally very challenging, obviously. They will want to know about your childhood, your upbringing, your values, your ideas about parenting, your idea about each other’s roles in parenting, specially in disciplining the child, why you want to adopt, your income, and possibly many more such “interrogatory” questions. And that is where my conflict comes in. We have already been dealt a rough deal in life, and the “surrendering of ourselves” to this kind of exposure / questioning feels unfair to me right now.

For so many fertiles, the criteria for qualifying as a parent is oftentimes just a faulty condom, or an extra drink or two, or at most – a playful romp in the bed. Do they ever need to prove that they are capable of bringing up the child they are producing? Obviously not.

It bothers me that we would have to go through a validation like this, and then also have to have the birth parents involved in the child’s life. (I’m not judging the process here, and I’m not saying it’s right or wrong. I’m just saying that at this point, this concept is hard for me to process.)

Perhaps I’m so torn and conflicted because I’m not done “grieving my infertility”. So it brings me back to the question in the beginning of my post.

How do you know when you are done? How do you know when it’s over? How do you know when you are done grieving your infertility? When do you accept the loss of your biological children? Any thoughts?


DAVs said...

I think I could write a whole novel on this question and in the end, not have an answer. Instead, I'd likely just go around in circles.
I heard that when the alternative to treatment sounds better than treatment, then it shows you're ready to move on. Example: when adoption (the alternative) seems better than the FET, then you're ready. But geez, that makes it sound so simple. And it's NOT simple.
I think it's great you're looking into other options. You're going to make a wonderful mother...and any child, whether it is from your embryos or through adoption (whichever kind) will be lucky to have you.
I wish I had the answer. I really do.

Blossom and Her Fruit said...

I think DAVs has a great answer.

It is strange to get to the point where HOPE is just another four letter word. A swear. Offensive.

I often thought about the different options out there. In fact, I think about them constantly. If you feel comfortable, do you mind sharing if you would ever consider surrogacy?

Phoebe said...

I don't know when I'll be ready to give up, but I feel like I have already started the grieving process of giving up the dream of having my own children. My DH is not open to adoption, so if another IVF does not work, it's the end of the road for me. I already know that my chances of success with IVF are slim. It sounds like you have started the grieving process as well. It's as if I need to go through this grieving so that I will not be disappointed with any bad news as I start another cycle, which could end up being canceled. I just know that going to the fertility clinic can bring up the feeling of loss and anxiety, so grieving now helps me be able to undergo further treatment, if that makes sense.

Very good information about adoption. There are also some great blogs out there on open adoption, including Weebles Wobblog (Lori). It sounds incredibly difficult, but Lori has found a way to make it work.

Anonymous said...

I so agree with you about the "extra proof" we have to go through (we are in the same state)--i.e. we can't keep certain medicines in the cabinet, we have to attend classes, etc. On the one hand, of course you don't want for example pedophiles adopting kids so a background check, etc. should be required. On the other hand, as you state, any old fertile (including pedophiles) can just have a kid with no background check, no safety check, etc. Augh!
Not sure if they told you this at your sessions, but in CA the birth parents have something like 6 months after the birth to change their mind. Can you imagine--after all that wait, paying their expenses, etc., possibly even having the baby for 6 months, then having it taken away? Yet another reason why I am still not ready to go that route.

Anonymous said...

i do think that DAVs said it well. Deciding when enough is enough is a personal decision. and one that i think that i personally would go back and forth about for a long time.

i'm totally with you on the involvement of the birth parents. i can see from a theoretical standpoint why that is better for the child. but i also know myself. i think that i would have a difficult time with this.


Anonymous said...

Having gone through this myself, I just want to say "give it some time". Eventually you will know in your heart if adoption is right for you.
I agree that adoptive parents have to go through so much to prove they are up for the challenge of parenting but I think that's necessary to make sure these kids don't end up in a worst situation. You and DH have nothing to worry about, you are going to be great parents and the homestudy isn't as bad as I thought it would be.
As for the involvement of birthparents, I think it's absolutely the right thing to do. The huge sacrifice that the birth mom goes through to intrust the adoptive parents to care for her baby is unimaginable. I feel the least I can do is to keep her involved. It's not very often, I email pictures once a month and visits 2 times per year until the age of 5. You can negotiate contact. When the right birth mom picks you, you'll know instantly, it will just feel right and you will never look back! It will just "click"!


Anonymous said...

I too could go on and on and around and around on this.

My dh loathes the prospect of an open adoption - he is just flabbergasted that people who cannot/will not/unable to raise the child would still have some control - even if it is just photos and a few visits - over our child.

I think that I am almost there - I am so much closer to it than my dh - he does not want to go that route now or for a while. Sigh. I have some serious IF fatigue though girl.


Tennille said...

It's definitely not an easy decision to make and it's not always clear when it's "time". My DH pretty much made the choice for us. We were at a fork in the road - either stop IF treatments and live childfree or adopt. He was totally spent on the emotional rollercoaster of IF but I think I would have kept trying even though 2 RE's had not given us much hope. My DH made the best decision for us and it wasn't long before I realized that.

Please don't get scared off by the homestudy process. Yes, it is very invasive and it's not fair that good people have to go through it. However, my boss is a volunteer guardian ad litem and she told me that she's seen first hand that not all people who want to adopt are good people, so I guess it's necessary to weed those out. It truly is just a lot of hassle getting all of the paperwork together, but everything is confidential between you and DH and your social worker. The process is not nearly as scary as it seems.

I understand how you feel about open adoptions. It looks like ours is going to turn out to be less open than we expected. It appears that it is easier for Alexa's birthmom to not have as much contact as she thought she would like. I think it is good to at least know the BM's background and her reasons for placing the child so that you can pass that info onto the child. I think it is extremely important for the child to know that he/she was not given up because they weren't loved, which is so often the stigma associated with adoption.

I have also heard that agencies in CA push the open adoption thing much more than any other state, so you may want to look outside CA if you haven't already. I am not familiar with CA's adoption laws, but the BM having 6 months to change her mind is ridiculous. Most states range from 24 hours to 10 days.

Heather said...

What about using a surrogate for your four frozen embryos? How does that compare in cost?

the Mom said...

Look into adopting through Utah. The birth mother's rights terminate after a 72 hour period, and you can still get a closed adoption if that is your preference.

Jill M. said...

Thank you so much for posting the info you gathered, that was very informative.

I think I'm urked about the same 2 items you referenced. Why in the world after dealing with IF, do we have to be put through the wringer, basically put on trial, to adopt a child??? Hmmm, open adoption? I'm not so sure I'm comfortable about that either. Can we not just have a child to love, nuture and take care of like a normal family?

Obviously, no matter which path we take, we infertiles get the short end of the stick.

I hope everything works out for you my dear! Keep us posted.

Shelby said...

I too have felt infuriated by the process of adoption. As if by this point you have not bent over backwards enough for a child and they want further proof that you're are indebted to it? I question whether you will find anyone more devoted to parenting than those who have devoted their lives to their children years before they have met them.

The process of infertility is already pure exposure at best and yet you must open more of your personal information to evaluative strangers. I am immensly disheartened that adoption is so costly, convuluted and lengthy. It is putting amazing parents such as yourself and your DH through more unnecessary heartache, and most likely keeping so many amazing children from finding homes.

Finally, I too agree that open adoption is best for children, but only to a certain extent. I find a certain discomfort in where that line is drawn. It feels too squishy to me, like a possible slippery slope. It's hard to say until you're actually in the middle of it, though.

I'm sorry that you must face yet another hurdle, but I truly know that whether your child is biological or adopted, they will be so insanely lucky to have two parents like you guys. You have carried a million mountains for your child already. They will never doubt your love.

Bluebird said...

Just getting caught up on my reading, and was so interested to find this post. I of course don't have the answers to your questions :), but your writing suggests that you've found some . . . what's the word? Peace? Hope? Anyway, that you've found "something" in gathering information about adoption. And for that, I am happy. ((Hugs)) sweetie.

Lisa said...

Oh Nikki, what a hard question to answer. Maybe you never really know when it's over. But it's okay to move on. It's okay to let yourself be excited about adoption and let yourself be excited about becoming a mommy. And even though the adoption agencies want you to have grieved and accepted your infertility doesn't mean you ever have to give up hope. You can be excited about adoption, and STILL hope or try for a biological child. That's what we did. WE went into the program and continued to try and just didn't even tell them. And now that we actually are pregnant, we are still in the program and will continue to stay in it and adopt our second -- because I could never go through another round of IVF again, I'm sure of that. So I don't know how to answer the question of how you know when it's over... but I do know that you can move forward down two roads at once if that's what you want. you don't have to give up one for the other, I really beleive that. But whatever is right in your heart, is the answer for you. It's there, down deep, happiness is waiting for you. And you deserve it. Biological, adopted, or none of the above. You deserve to be happy and have some peace. Let yourself find some. And hold on tight.


Joy said...

Nikki, I am so sorry you are having a hard time with all this. I know how you feel since Chris and I are "done trying" right now. There really is no answere to the "when" question. We were forced to stop TTC because of Money, so that decision was made for us, and I still don't think I am 100% at peace with that. It takes time to heal, and yes(like someone else said) "hope" is a 4 letter word to me, it makes me cringe!!

Now on to the adoption, I think whether it is open or not is for you and the birth mom to decide, if you are not comfortable with the birth fam being part of the childs life then do a closed adoption. For some families open adoption is what they are comforatable with, I would not want the birth family to have close contact with my child. I would consider a semi-open, where you send them pics of baby and stuff like that, but I am selfish and that baby would be mine and I wouldn't want to share him/her with another set of parents. That is just my opinion. My mom was adopted and didn't know anything about her bio family until about 6 years ago. She was fine not knowing, so I think it depends on the situation, like others have said, that child needs to know that they were given up because the WERE loved so much by their bio parents that they wanted a better life for the child, and I think you as a parent can do a good job of instilling that in your child. Like I said before, open adoption may be the way to go for some, but not for everyone. Go with your heart and don't comprimise unless you feel it is the right thing to do.

So there is my opinion. I am so sorry Nikki, I wish there was somthing I could say or do to make all your pain go away. I wish I could give you a huge hug and make it all better. I hate the way IF has to rule our lives, it sucks. But we are strong and will get through it! You WILL be a mommy one way or the other.


Lorraine said...

I suspect that there isn't a choir-filled light-burst of a moment when you realize that, aha! we are done with IVF! - as much as that would make it easier. Most big decisions are more about gathering information and mulling over what you learn while trying to imagine yourself in that kind of life.

It makes perfect sense to learn everyhting you can about adoption and go from there. Take some time, try these ideas on and see what fits. We all know you will be an amazingly sensitive and caring mother, it's just a matter of when and how.

What do you think you'll do with the four frozens? Would it help the grieving process to finish that phase in some way?

Sarang said...

You know for me, it's always been about being a parent, having someone call ME "Mommy", being the one to raise, nurture, hold, care for when they're sick, teach and love with every fiber of my being.

Not the biological connection.

If treatment does not work (or if you opt not to purse treatment in the first place or stop), I think there is a point when you decide whether you will live childfree or you will adopt.

I don't think adoption is the "easy" answer, but I do think it's well worth any time completing paperwork, home study, etc. for the lifetime of reward that will follow.

Am sending you much love and I know that whatever path you will be the right path for you.

Sarang said...

PS - This is in response to Anonymous that birth parents have 6 months to change their mind (untrue).

I have heard that the birth mother has six months to change her mind in California. Is this true?
No, California law has never given the birth mother six months to change her mind, that is a myth that was repeated in the media so often that many took it to be gospel. Starting in 1995, California law gave the birth mother up to 90 days to change her mind, however, she could waive the 90 days if she wished. In 2002, the law changed to shorten this time period to 30 days. (Birth mother can also waive this right.)

"With agency adoptions in many states, including California, an irrevocable Relinquishment of parental rights may be obtained anytime after the Birth Mother leaves the birthing facility, thus shortening your risk factor for a reclaim of a child. Although, some states do allow a period to revoke the Relinquishment. The California independent adoption process allows the "placing birth parent(s)" 30 days to reclaim her/his/their child after signing the consent, called the Adoption Placement Agreement (APA), which is revocable until the 31st day. However, there is a Waiver which can be signed by the birth parent which waives the 30 day waiting period, therefore making the Placement Agreement immediately irrevocable at the time of signing."

Nichole said...

Nikki - (It's Nichole from ITSG, FB and My Grasp at Sanity) LOL
Thank you so much for your comment - this particular blog you wrote is the entire reason I wrote mine! It is nice to know someone who is in VERY similar shoes and at a very similar place in the process.

I know that in AZ, the BM can relinquish her rights as early as 72 hours after birth.

It really seems like such a daunting process, but I will share whatever research information I find, and will keep following your journey to learn from you as well!

Big Hugs Friend!

the Babychaser: said...

What a question. If you'd asked me four years ago, I would never have answered that I'd be on my way to IVF cycle # 5. I would have told you that was crazy, and that a mentally healthy person would just adopt.

But my god, there really is no such thing. I'll admit it--I'm terrified about the adoption process. I'm an IVF veteran: I've been poked, prodded, sliced open, and shot up with more different hormones than industrial livestock. I've reached a level of comfort with this process. The adoption process just seems brutal.

And while they tell you you have to take the time to grieve your loss, who the hell can afford to wait anymore? I've already waited four long years for a baby--and adoption can take a long time too. So exactly how long do they expect me to wait and grieve before I get on the list? If this is my path (and there's a good chance it is), I plan to do my grieving while I'm waiting for the baby to come through.

Okay, that was my personal rant, and probably not at all helpful to you.

But I hear you, I really do. How do we make choices that are so damn big, so freaking important, when we're already so battle-scarred and shell-shocked.

Here's to staying strong. You can do this. Just make a long long list and take it one step at a time.

Wendy said...

My husband and I did 4 IUIs and 3 IVFs. After that 3rd IVF didn't work out, I just felt like I couldn't do anymore. Emotionally, was all too much.

Before we did IVF #1, we looked into adoption, too. (We didn't know if IVF was going to be an option for us.) We found an agency we liked and started working with them after the last IVF.

We are in the domestic adoption program with our agency and will most likely have some type of open or semi-open adoption.

I understand how hard it is to grieve the loss of not having a pg. I've had 3 years of disappointment as far as that goes. I think I've come a long way from where I was back in September (the end of our last cycle). But every now and then I still have a really hard time with it. Maybe it just lessens a bit more every day?

Just wanted to wish you luck. There's more info about open domestic adoption on my blog if you're interested.

Anonymous said...

I know I havent been here in a while, but I wanted to tell you that I have been there. In the hospital after the girls died, I just looked at my husband and said "never again". I know I was just trying to protect myself.

I really do believe that you just "know". Obviously, the decision doesnt come easy, but I believe that it does happen, and when you decide you will find peace. It definately sounds much easier than it really is, and I think we all know that.

It is so hard going back and forth with the options, we did it for years.

As morbid as it sounds, if this pregnancy ends much like my last one, we are done, and in my heart I just "know".

I am so proud of you for exploring your options, knowledge is powerful.

Much love to you dear, I have missed you! Thank you for all your encouragement!

Anonymous said...

I think I knew that it was time when I just couldn't imagine physically going through another round of crazy injections. I literally couldn't do it.

Does that mean that I'm not completely aware of when I'm ovulating every month? Of course not. Giving up hope isn't the same as moving your energies towards something else. In our case, that's international adoption (I have the same discomfort with open adoptions as you do and though I'm a marketing manager by day, I didn't really want to have to market myself to birth mothers). But I think that you'll find the path that feels right to you and slowly that will bloom into the right thing and you'll know.

Anonymous said...

Have you considered dealing directly with an adoption agency or orphanage in India? I am in the same boat through I am from Africa. I have been told it will be easier for me to adopt a child directly from Africa while I am still a permanent resident (only because they have funky rules about non-citizens adopting)and then when I get my citizenship my child automatically will too.

Anonymous said...

somethings you never get over.. but then you realize that life moves on and more wonderful memories fill up your life..That's life..